The Essence of Worship pt. 1

BY Chris Wolfe ( Worship Director at City Church)


As we gather ourselves into the sanctuary on any given Sunday morning, we can safely predict certain events to happen over the next hour and a half. When put into its basic parts a service contains about nine separate events: singing, announcements, offerings, singing, corporate confession, singing, sermon, singing, and benediction. Four out of nine of those items are singing, this places almost half of the entire service in the form of song. If you break it down further into how long those items take, the song portion may even seem to take up more than half of the service some weeks. Singing must be something very important to our services if we are to include so much of it next to all the other parts. If it is that important, it must have a lot of thought and work put into it. Truth be told, it may not be something you always notice on these “predictable” Sunday mornings, but hours and hours of reading, prayer, and consideration go into the songs we sing every week. Where we experience the fruit of these hours is in the form of our worship.

All worship is liturgical. “Liturgy” is nothing more than the order of a service, its form. If any thought at all was put into the structure of worship in any way shape or… “form,” then it is “formal” and “liturgical.” We are commanded in scripture to worship mindfully, soulfully, and with honor to God (Mark 12:30). We are likewise commanded to sing to the lord with thankfulness in our hearts (Colossians 3:16). Even more clear to this point, scripture commands us to maintain order and structure in our services (1 Corinthians 14:26-40). Our worship is meant to honor and glorify God. In order to do that well, we need to put some kind of effort into how that worship takes form. Yes, we may sing the same songs that appear on our Spotify playlists or on the radio, and maybe we sing them to drums and electric guitars, but this worship is still liturgical.

So if our worship is liturgical, then what does that liturgy look like? We must remember that the goal of liturgy is not to add unnecessary rules or make things super controlled, rather, it is to keep us from forgetting who this worship is about: God. As such, the liturgy we use at City Church often changes from week to week, but it usually follows one of three orders or some combination of them.

1.       Scripture reflective. The scripture and topic the sermon is from is very often used in choosing the songs we sing. The scripture is read and themes or lessons are picked out. The goal is to select songs that match up well with these parts so that they go along with and reinforce the sermon.

2.       The Story of God. Songs are chosen and ordered to tell the story of God laid out in the bible. For example, I might choose songs that talk about creation, man’s sin, Jesus’s sacrifice to bring us out of sin, God’s grace and forgiveness to us through this sacrifice, and our new lives and perspectives as God's forgiven people. By putting the songs in this order, I am telling the story of God through the songs.

3.       General Theme of liturgy. This is similar to the story of God, but with a specific definition of each part. Songs would put in order of the following themes:

·         A Call to Worship

·         Songs of Adoration

·         Acknowledgement of Sin and Imperfection

·         Affirmation of pardon

·         Affirmation of Faith

In taking the liturgy of City Church into mind, it is my sincere hope and prayer that the members of City Church will be blessed immensely by the worship that we engage in. I pray even more that our worship is God glorifying and God honoring.

1 Corinthians 14:26 & 40 (CSB)

“26…Whenever you come together, each one has a hymn, a teaching, a revelation, another tongue, or an interpretation. Everything is to be done for building up… 40… everything is to be done decently and in order.”

circle chris .png

About the Author

My name is Chris Wolfe. I've been involved with worship ministry in some capacity since I was 14 and I now serve as the worship director for City Church. I've had an affinity for music for as long as I can remember and God has used that to His glory pretty much everywhere I've ended up. Even when I've tried to take a break from worship ministries, God has a way of getting me back on stage anyway. Over the years I have come to passionately love God, and as a result, I passionately love to worship Him. When I'm not playing guitar and singing into mics, I enjoy reading, writing, cooking, games, and most important, spending time with my wife.