A couple weeks ago Jen and I took off for the Acts 29 Newzealand Conference in Wellington. It was a great time of teaching and fellowship. But the best part was being able to spend time with our friends at Gracenet Community Church. Pastor Michael Beck and I have been friends for years, and if you know him you know me, and vice versa. We are very much alike in our striking good looks, theology, temperament, fears, etc. Turns out, the churches we pastor are remarkably similar as well.
We were able to spend days with the people of Gracenet but what I want to share with you is how their corporate worship services are put together. First, let me give you a thumbnail sketch of the church itself. Gracenet is about 8 years old and has over 60 in attendance on Sunday mornings (which is good sized church in Wellington, NZ). They are a very diverse body characterized by a passion for God and genuine affection for one another. They meet in a local community center on Sunday mornings and in smaller groups during the week. Jen and I felt immediately at home with our brothers and sisters at Gracenet.
If you read my blog you know I believe corporate worship is critical to the life and health of the local church and individual believers. Liturgy matters and should be theologically-grounded, gospel-directed, and word-saturated. Gracenet is a great example of all of this and more. Below is a summary of what went down.
Reading the Word
Worship began with a formal Call to Worship. Intern Ryan Vinten read Psalm 32. His reading was expository, meaning it wasn't a boring, stale reading of words on a page, but a passionate reading emphasizing key aspects of the passage. That we read Scripture in our gatherings is a necessity. But it is also critically important that we read it well.
Praying the Word
Pastor Michael then lead us in prayer with biblical and theological language, but in a comprehensible way. There was no strange preacher cadence. Just heartfelt pleading with God for grace.
Singing the Word
The music at Gracenet was incredible: Hymns and songs led with instrumentation and harmonies that elevated the corporate singing rather than obscuring it. At this point we sang, Jesus we Look to Thee, O Help My Unbelief, Our Only Hope is You, Grace and Peace.
Supporting the Word
During this time the offering is taken and prayer is offered for other churches and church plants around the world.
Preaching the Word
Pastor Michael typically preaches, but he also shares the pulpit with the elders and interns. This Sunday I was invited to preach.
Seeing The Word
The Lord's Supper was officiated by Benny (and elder) and was beautifully explained biblically. Bread and wine was brought to each person and we all partook together.
We sang a final song, Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah, and Pastor Michael concluded the service with a benediction from Heb 13:20-21.
Pray for Gracenet Community Church. God is doing amazing things there converting the lost, sanctifying the people of God, and uniting them all in the mission of the church.
Big thanks to Max Behle for sharing some of the photos he took during the service!