Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
teaching and admonishing one another
in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,
with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
We believe the focus of our gathered worship is the word of Christ, the gospel. Everything we do, we do so that the word of Christ might dwell in us richly. This includes not only the sermons, but everything else we do each week—from singing to celebrating the Lord’s Supper. We regularly participate in a few traditional practices which might be unfamiliar today, such as reciting a historic creed or a prayer of confession—but everything we do is designed to reshape our hearts, minds, and lives around the gospel of Christ Jesus.
While everything in our worship services is in some sense a ministry of the Word of God, we do place special emphasis on the preaching of the Word. We believe Christ is the central message of Scripture (John 5:39, Luke 24:27). Therefore, our sermons take a closer look at a specific passage to explore how the Bible reveals the person and work of Christ, and what that revelation means for us today.
In Colossians 3, Paul tells the church to be “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” A key purpose of congregational singing in the Bible is for us to teach and encourage one another. In other words, singing does not merely prepare us to receive the Word of God. As we sing, we proclaim that Word to one another. Singing is also certainly meant to express our praise and worship toward God. But praising God and encouraging one another are not mutually exclusive. We do both every time we proclaim the truth of what God has done for us in Christ!
Our worship seeks a mix of classic hymns and contemporary songs that express the rich truth of Scripture in a way that is both clear to the mind and moving to the heart. We are less concerned about when a song was written or whether it’s popular, and more concerned about the content of our songs.
Both Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19 instruct the church to sing Psalms. Jesus Himself sang Psalms (Mark 14:26). The majority of Christians throughout history have sung Psalms in worship—and some Christians today only sing from the Psalms! While this is a recent practice for Christ First Church, we have begun singing through the Psalms together. We use settings that work with familiar hymn tunes.Singing the Psalms can be a challenge, but it is a rewarding one! There are emotions and ideas in the Psalms that we are not used to expressing to God in worship. And yet, that is exactly why Psalm singing can be encouraging. It reminds us that the Bible has words for the broad range of human experience, including not only joy and praise but frustration, lament, anger, and fear. Singing the Psalms helps us worship God as we are, trusting Him with our ups as well as our downs.
confession and Assurance
Many worship traditions include a time for confession of sin followed by a Biblical assurance of our pardon in Christ. We believe this is a helpful reminder of the gospel. The sins of believers were forgiven once and for all on the cross—Christ said “it is finished.” Yet as Martin Luther said, “when our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent,” he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. We continue in confession and repentance, because this is how God works in us to conform us to Christ. It is fitting that we make this part of our corporate life together as well as our private devotional lives. The prayer of confession is usually a written prayer we recite together, but may also be a moment of silent prayer.
Remembering our sin also helps us grow in our appreciation for the grace of God by which we are redeemed. After the prayer of confession, we hear a passage of Scripture that reminds us of the assurance we have in Christ.
Each week, we recite either the Nicene or the Apostles’ Creed. We don’t believe either creed is divinely inspired or on the same level as Scripture—these creeds were written by mere men. However, they have stood the test of centuries as Christians across the globe have found them to be faithful expressions of some core truths of Scripture. They summarize who God is, who Jesus is, what He came to do, and what it means for us.It may seem strange to recite a creed together in worship, but remember that most school children recite what is essentially a patriotic creed every morning when they stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. It may seem like a routine at the time, but over time it turns out to be a powerful way to instill some core values. In the same way, reciting these historic creeds reinforces and reminds us of the core of our faith. It is also an expression of unity with countless Christians who hold those same truths today and the generations of believers who came before us.
The Lord's Supper
We celebrate the Lord’s Supper (also called communion) every week. As Paul writes, “as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26) This is a visible, tangible proclamation of the gospel. As we receive the bread and juice, we remember that we come to God to receive the grace He freely gives us through the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ.
You do not need to be a member of Christ First Church to partake, but we do ask that only baptized believers come forward to receive the Lord’s Supper.