The Order of Worship: The Call to Worship (and announcements)
One of the principles of worship I mentioned last week is the dialogical principle—worship is a dialogue between God and his people. We see this in the worship described in Exodus 19–24, for example. Appropriately, the dialogue begins with God calling his people to worship and only then do his people respond.
This principle has two practical impacts on our worship. First, our worship begins with God speaking to us. Second, because God only speaks to us by his Spirit in his Word, our call to worship is always a text of Scripture which calls or commands God’s people to worship him.
There are a few things I want to make sure you take away from this. Matt and Nathan aren’t calling you to worship. The session isn’t calling you to worship. To the degree that your pastors and session are involved in the call to worship, it is only as instruments. The One calling you is God. And though God is a loving Father to us, his call is no less a summons and a command. Perhaps it’s easier to think of this as a command for our good. Sometimes we do not need to be commanded to do what is in our best interest. Sometimes we do. We recognize this instinctively in children who often don’t know what is good for them. We mistakenly believe this is a stage we grow out of. Too often, though, it is not, and we must be instructed for our good. I hope you come to corporate worship for the joy of being in the unique presence of God and to declare his praises. But even when you do not feel like it, or something else competes for your Sunday morning, you should jealously guard the time and obey God’s command instead.
I am also concerned that you not miss this truth: God calls you to gather for worship because he loves you, wants to be with you in this way, and has made allowance for you to be with him by restoring our fellowship with him in the perfect life and satisfactory death of his Son! Jesus died to restore to us the fellowship Adam and Eve had with God in the garden. And that fellowship is ours now by faith and repentance. And its ultimate expression until Christ returns is Sunday morning corporate worship. God calls us to corporate worship because he loves us and wants to be with us in this way.
One final note about announcements. We choose not to insert announcements into the middle of our service because they are not a proper element of worship. Once the call to worship has been issued, worship has begun. And until God sends us out with his blessing, it is an ongoing exchange in which he speaks to us and we respond to him.
What a comfort and source of confidence that corporate worship is not something invented and required by man but something which God calls us to because he loves us and wants to be with us!
I hope to see you Sunday!