In the American church today, there exists a growing tendency to create a concert aesthetic or ethos for the corporate worship service. Many churches have incorporated complex praise bands, darkened “worship centers,” laser-light shows, and music so loud that earplugs may be necessary to fend off hearing loss. These innovations have silenced the congregation, appealed to man’s base emotions, fueled a need for entertainment, and corrupted the holistic vision of worship, limiting the time of “worship” to when the band is playing.
If this has been your church experience, you may be a bit shocked if you visit us at Berean. While many might describe our worship service as “traditional,” we believe that we are being biblical. To us, biblical worship means that our worship is simple, regulated by Scripture, and focused on the ordinary means of grace.
Our worship service is simple. We believe congregational singing is essential to the gathered, corporate worship of God’s people. Therefore, instead of a complex praise band and loud music, you will find that we employ a simple musical accompaniment (usually a guitar or piano) to aid and assist congregational singing rather than drowning it out.
We primarily sing theologically rich songs from the Trinity Hymnal and the Psalter and employ these physical books as we sing. We also believe congregational singing is vital because children need to hear their parents singing the praises of God, and believers are mutually encouraged when we hear each other sing to God. As our Book of Church Order says, “From its beginning to its end, a service of public worship should be characterized by that simplicity which is an evidence of sincerity and by that beauty and dignity which are a manifestation of holiness.” (BCO 47-6)
Scripture regulates our worship service. Our Confessions and Scripture teach what is called the Regulative Principle of Worship. Simply put, God alone commands how people should worship Him, and we must avoid corrupting His worship with the inventions or devices of man. God prescribes how we ought to worship and reveals such prescriptions in the Scriptures (See Westminster Confession of Faith 21.1). The 2nd Commandment provides the basis for this principle. These prescribed ways to worship God are called “elements” of worship. These commanded elements are the: “reading of Holy Scripture, singing of psalms and hymns, the offering of prayer, the preaching of the Word, the presentation of offerings, confessing the faith and observing the Sacraments; and on special occasions taking oaths.” (BCO 47-9)
Our worship services focus on the ordinary means of grace. The ordinary means are the word, sacrament, and prayer. The “means of grace” are an appointed way that God conveys grace and the benefits of salvation to His people. These means become effectual when genuine, saving faith is present. Therefore, in our worship services, we preach God’s word, read and hear God’s word, and pray God’s word. Biblical preaching is a pillar of our ministry, and we preach through entire books of the Bible in an expository and exegetical manner. We recognize two sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and the latter we observe monthly. Lastly, our services are full of prayer, whether the worship leader up front prays or the congregation prays in unison. These ordinary means are the primary way we are discipled in the Lord.
Thus, our worship service will not feel like a top-dollar, finely polished professional production. Rather, we are a church who gathers not to have our emotions stirred or to be entertained but to worship the True and Living God as He has commanded us in His Word.