Understanding Worship at HBC


The Sunday morning worship service at Huron Baptist Church (HBC) follows a standard format with only small, occasional changes.  This format reflects our understanding of corporate worship.[1]

Corporate worship is a time of interaction between God and his children in which God reveals himself through his Word and his children respond with praise and obedience. This definition implies numerous principles that guide our worship service choices.  For example:
  • God is the focus of corporate worship.
  • Christians are the primary audience in corporate worship.[2]
  • Biblical exposition is the center-piece of corporate worship.
  • Worship follows the two-fold movement of proclamation and response
  • The effect of corporate worship extends to all of life.
 We believe that the Bible regulates the elements of the corporate worship services and provides the content of the elements.[3]  In other words, we may only include what God commands in our services and each element focuses on the Word of God.  Consequently, each Lord’s Day we gather to . . .
  • Sing the Word—We choose songs with scriptural, theological content to support the theme of the message.
  • Read the Word—We select Scripture readings that complement the theme of the message.
  • Pray the Word—We offer prayers with content and language shaped by Scripture and connected to the theme of the message .
  • Preach the Word—We listen to expository sermons, that is, sermons that “expose” the meaning of the Scriptures; these are the centerpiece of the worship service.
  • See the Word—We visually depict the gospel, the Bible’s central message, through the Lord’s Supper and Baptism.
Here is a typical order of service with an explanation of the various components:

Preparation for Worship

A musical prelude helps us prepare for worship. We suggest that you be in your seat at least five minutes before 9:00a.m.  When the prelude begins, use that time to prepare your heart to meet with God.  Ask the Lord to help you focus on him, to understand his Word, and to respond to its truth in a way that brings him glory.

Call to Worship

The service begins with a brief Scripture reading selected because it 1) summons God’s people to praise and thankfulness and 2) reflects themes contained in the sermon text.

Invocation

This prayer “invokes” God’s presence, assistance, and blessing in the service.

PROCLAMATION

Hymns of Proclamation

We sing several hymns throughout the service.  Hymns in the first portion of the service proclaim the truths found in the sermon text.  The first hymn in the service is typically an anthem; the others express a variety of emotions appropriate to the truths conveyed.

Worship through Giving

The weekly offering is an act of worship that demonstrates the believer’s utter dependence on the sovereignty and goodness of God.  At the conclusion of the offering we sing an expression of our belief that God is the source of all good things and/or our commitment to live as faithful stewards of his blessings.

Pastoral Prayer

Each week the pastor introduces a prayer by briefly explaining a theme connected to the sermon.  Sometimes the explanation expands a theological idea.  Other times it gives background information or a reason the sermon theme is vital.  The prayer that follows usually confesses our failure to live in the light of the truths under consideration, seeks forgiveness, pleads for divine aid, and expresses thanksgiving for the provisions that belong to us in Christ Jesus.  We consciously employ the language of Scripture to shape these prayers.

Scripture Reading

Paul instructed Timothy to devote himself to the public reading of Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13).  We select a reading for each service that complements the sermon text by expanding its theme(s) or enlarging our understanding of its background.  The selected reading is usually taken from the opposite Testament.  For example, if the sermon text occurs in the New Testament, the supplemental Scripture reading will usually come from the Old Testament.

Message

Biblical preaching is the center-piece of corporate worship.  We believe that expository preaching[4] best serves God’s purposes and his people.  Typically, we work section by section through large portions of Scripture, usually complete books of the Bible.

RESPONSE

Hymns of Response

Hymns in the second section of our service express an appropriate response of God’s people to the subject matter proclaimed in the first half of the service.

Prayer Response

Each Sunday our service concludes with a prayer offered by a member of the congregation.  He represents the assembly before the Lord, acknowledging the truth that we have heard and declaring our commitment to honor our Savior by obeying it.

Benediction

The final element of the service 1) calls the congregation to remember and obey what they have heard and 2) calls for the blessing of the Lord upon his people.


Note:  Frequently we include prepared music (e.g., songs sung by our choir).  We include this music only when it serves the themes of the service, not simply for entertainment value.  See our page, “Why We Sing.”




[1] By “corporate” we mean worship that takes place in community.  It is public and collective rather than private and individual.
[2] Current ministry fads have retooled the historic understanding of corporate worship, assuming it serves evangelistic goals.  This establishes the non-Christian as the target audience.  We believe in evangelism and acknowledge that genuine worship always has evangelistic value.  However, the unbeliever can never truly worship; by definition, only believers can worship.  So we conduct our worship services with sensitivity to the presence of unbelievers (1 Cor. 14:23), but always plan the content and structure with Christians in mind.
[3] The historic formulation of this idea is called “the regulative principle of worship.”
[4] Expository preaching “exposes” the meaning of the text of Scripture.  The text shapes the form of the message so that the preacher is less inclined to substitute his own ideas for what God has said.