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Gathered Worship

Why We Do What We Do || Why Sunday Liturgy?

Each Sunday we have a unique opportunity to gather as God’s people to hear from his Word, be reminded of his Story, sing his praise, and enjoy his presence. As a church family, we gather around Jesus and his remarkable grace. Over the course of ninety minutes we have an order of worship: readings, prayers, songs, sermons, announcements, and sometimes a potluck meal. All those parts make up a Liturgy. Liturgy has been described as ‘embodied worship’; worship expressed through a certain visible order or structure (thus the phrase “order of worship”).

Liturgy simply means “the work of the people.” In one sense ‘liturgy’ is what we do together as we gather to worship God. But in a much deeper sense, liturgy isn’t at all about what we do; its about what God does. Each Sunday, we believe that we encounter God through song, scripture, sacrament (communion and baptism) and the fellowship of the saints. In other words, we gather around the Word and the Table, singing and praying together as the family of God, listening to the Spirit of God along the way. In our liturgy, we draw from the rich treasury of the Church's historic worship practices while being attentive to the fresh work of the Spirit in our day. Our worship at Missio is rooted in history with room for mystery.

Many think of liturgy in terms of something churches did in the past or what more formal churches do today. We’ve found that instead of thinking in terms of “Formal/Informal,” it is more helpful to think in terms of “Intentional/Unintentional.” We want to be intentional with our Sunday gatherings. Our liturgy is not put together haphazardly. The repetition, the structure, and the communal nature of the liturgy is all done on purpose with the prayer that the Spirit draws us into God’s Story again and again. So much of our lives are lived out hearing other stories with other saviors. In the ninety minutes we have week after week, month after month, year after year, we are drawn anew into God’s story. We are formed to be a community shaped by the Gospel and sent out on God’s mission.

WHY LITURGY IS IMPORTANT

We could give a ton of reasons, but here are a few:

Liturgy tells the True Story of God. Each day we are bombarded with false stories that prompt individualism, promote consumerism and push hyped-up emotionalism. We need to fight these idols with the good news of the gospel. Our liturgy draws us back each week into God’s true story (we’ll talk more this week about the elements of our liturgy and how they do just that!)

Liturgy helps form a missional people. We are called to declare and demonstrate the good news of Jesus Christ in all of life. We are a missional people who must have our desires, our vision, our very selves reordered out of the ways we have been trained in consumerist America and ‘re-gospelled’ into the Missio Dei. Liturgy that is Scriptural, historical, theological, accessible and organic (part of everyday life) helps form us as God’s servant missionaries who are equipped and sent out, energized and empowered by the Spirit to bring good news to our neighborhoods, workplaces, communities and homes.

Liturgy teaches us how to worship. Liturgy teaches us to reorient our lives in complete devotion to God. Liturgy calls us to repentance and faith as we acknowledge God as King of all creation; as we confess our sins; as we embrace the promise and reality of forgiveness; as we hear God’s Word preached and read it together; as we celebrate the gospel in the Lord’s Supper. Liturgy helps us to rehearse Christ-centered worship and allows engagement with the Holy Spirit to be sent out on mission.

Liturgy creates much-needed habits. James K.A. Smith’s work has been influential in teaching how all of us have liturgies in life that shape and form what we love (read his book, “You Are What You Love”). We know by knowledge and experience that doing something as a regular rhythm of life can be powerful. Our habits form what we love, and we are shaped by what we love. Each Sunday we come back to something familiar to us. We are shaped and formed by Christ-saturated liturgy. We stand together and acknowledge God’s power and sovereignty. We confess our sins together. We hear the God-breathed word of scripture. We sing praises to our King. We partake in the Lord’s Supper, having our faith nourished once again in a tangible and visible representation of God’s grace. These rhythms and habits are powerful and life changing.

May the Holy Spirit shape and guide our Sunday liturgy, using it to form us as Jesus’ disciples and to send us out as faithful missional communities. To God be the glory!

Why We Gather As A Missional Church

*This past Sunday we kicked off our new series, "Missio Basics," a four-week preaching series aiming to reorient us around four gospel distinctives that fuel Missio Dei Peoria. These four “basics”--gather, go, grow and give--help to shape and define the way we live out our gospel identity here, near and far for the glory of God. You can read more about these four “basics here.  

If you’ve been a part of Missio Dei Peoria for any length of time you’ve heard us teach that church isn’t an event or a building. You’ve heard us preach that the church is God’s people, saved by God’s power, for God’s purposes. We emphasize the importance of living everyday life with what we call gospel intentionality—purposely living out the good news of Jesus in word and deed. We encourage people to see all of life as countless opportunities for evangelism and discipleship, happening over coffee and meals, in the workplace, at the gym, in our neighborhoods. We seek to live our lives as missionary servants, sent by Jesus to show the world what God is like, beautifully demonstrated in a Jesus-centered community on mission (what we call Missional Communities).

So why is it important for us to gather together every Sunday morning to sing and hear a sermon and partake in communion? If we teach that discipleship is life-on-life, in community and on mission, doesn’t a Sunday gathering seem to conflict?

You can listen to Sunday’s sermon for great answers to these questions…in fact, start there!

Heres' some additional thoughts on why we believe it’s essential for the scattered church to gather regularly as a family of missional communities:

1. We gather to remember the gospel story.

The Church is a story-formed community that is rooted in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. As we gather together each week, we sit under the authority of God and hear him speak through his word, the Bible. The Bible narrates the world for the Church, and the gathering of the family of God is the primary place for this to happen. We hear God’s true story loud and clear as we remember his mighty deeds—past, present and future—and find our place in his story. The organization of our gatherings, including the songs we sing, the liturgical rhythms of praise, confession and assurance we recite together, and the other elements of worship point to who God is and what he has done in Jesus to rescue the world from the ravages of sin.

2. We gather to retell the gospel story.

Each week we gather to hear God’s word preached. Preaching is a powerful means by which God’s people may be nurtured and empowered for God’s mission. Preaching helps us to see that the Bible is one unfolding story that is the true story of the world. Preaching helps us to see that the family of God must learn to live everyday life more and more in this story. Preaching brings listeners face-to-face with Jesus and his saving power to equip us to live all of life for his glory. We retell the good news of Jesus as we encourage one another through times of prayer, sharing of stories, and partaking in communion together.

3. We gather to respond to the gospel story.

Our Sunday gatherings help nurture and form a family of missional communities that are rooted in the gospel and come to know God’s saving power in worship, preaching, and prayer. But it doesn’t stop after the gathering is done. In fact, we gather to be equipped and encouraged so that we can be sent out into our culture as a people living the new life of God’s kingdom. We respond to the gospel story as we live everyday life—Monday through Sunday—with gospel intentionality.

Michael Goheen in his book A Light to the Nations points out that a people responding to the gospel story will be:

  • A community of justice in a world of injustice; a community of generosity and simplicity in a consumer world
  • A community of selfless giving in a world of selfishness and entitlement
  • A community of humble and bold witness to the truth of God in a world of uncertainty
  • A community of hope in a world of disillusionment and consumer satiation
  • A community of joy and thanksgiving in a hedonistic world that frantically pursues pleasure
  • A community that experiences God’s presence in a secular world (pp.209-210)

What other amazing things occur when we gather together? How is God glorified, Christ exalted, and Missio Dei Peoria empowered for mission as we gather together each week?