A Guide to Worship
This little guide is meant as a way of introducing you to the kind of worship service you’ll find at Cedar Lane. Whether it is your first time in a church service or just the first time in one of ours, we hope it’ll answer a few questions and encourage you to join in.
We believe that worship is a formative practice. It has the potential to shape us. It has the capacity to help us become the people God created us to be. We pray that when you join in our worship, that it will be a useful step in your own journey of following, and becoming like, Jesus.
Each worship service is made up of several different elements. Below you can read about the significance of each and how we practice them at Cedar Lane.
Typically we have a couple of moments in our worship where we pray to God, which is simply a way of saying we address God. There are many forms of prayer; sometimes we ask God for help, and sometimes we say thanks for God’s gifts. To join us in prayer, simply give attention to what’s being said in the prayer, and if you’re in agreement with it, say “Amen” (which simply means, “Yes!”). You can either say that in your on mind, or out loud—we have a lot of people who do both. It’s kind of like signing your name to the bottom of a letter, saying, “Yes, God. That prayer goes for me, too!”
One of the features of our particular worship tradition is a cappella congregational singing, which simply means that we all sing songs together without any kind of instrumental accompaniment. We know that’s different than the way most places do it, but we find that it’s a helpful way of emphasizing that the songs are something we all participate in, our way of saying important things to God and to each other. You’re welcome to join in, no matter what your voice sounds like! What’s important is the spirit of the songs—the thoughts, emotions, and intentions that the lyrics and music express. We’ll project the song lyrics and music so that everybody can see them.
Each week our church takes communion together. Jesus had a habit of sharing meals with people, and on the night he was betrayed, one of his last acts was to give his followers a special way of remembering him. Since then, Christians have kept that tradition as a way of keeping the memory of Jesus’s story alive, and reminding ourselves of his presence with us. Sometimes we call that practice “communion”, or the “Lord’s Supper”, and some traditions refer to it as “The Eucharist”. Sometimes we simply refer to it as “The Table”.
Our way of practicing communion is for someone to share a few thoughts about what is happening when we share the table together, and then we pray and pass around trays that have small amounts of flat bread on them. Each person breaks off a piece of the bread and eats it, calling to mind the story of Jesus and what it means for us to all be a part of a community living out Jesus’s story in the world together. Then we pray again and pass around trays that have small cups of grape juice. Each person takes a cup and drinks it, reflecting on Jesus’s story of sacrificial love and what it means to be called by God to live out that story in the world.
Each time we gather for worship, we have a time of preaching, which means that we have a moment when we explore the scriptures together, typically through a prepared sermon by one of our ministers or somebody else. Our typical style of preaching is to have sermons that explore one particular piece of scripture, but at other times they are centered around some specific piece of wisdom for life, or a value we need to talk about.
Usually our sermon revolves around a piece of scripture that we read together in worship. We read the passage together because we value the way God’s scriptures shape our lives. After all, when read attentively, the scriptures have the capacity to teach us what’s important to God, what it means for us to be fully human, and they invite us to join God’s work in the world.
Each week we also collect an offering. The money is used for many purposes, from paying our staff and for our facilities here at Cedar Lane to supporting missionaries abroad and making a difference here in our community. We practice financial transparency, and our budget is made available each year. We are grateful for the chance to practice generosity, as we believe it is one of the values of Jesus’s people. Guests should not feel obligated to contribute!
Worship is an essential part of who we are as a church, but it’s not the whole picture. We hope you’ll also consider taking some other steps to engage further in our faith community. Here are some things we hope you’ll consider:
Joining a small group. Our small groups meet on Sunday afternoons or evenings, and are simply small gatherings of people who spend time encouraging each other in their faith journey.
Study in a Bible Class. Right after worship, we have Bible classes for all ages. Every three months or so we switch to a new subject, but typically we’re studying a part of the Bible or some other aspect of our faith.
Serve with us. We often have things that we’re doing in our community, and there are plenty of opportunities to serve. One of the best ways to get to know us as a church is to roll up your sleeves and join in!