In most traditions of corporate worship, there are three parts. Each part
seeks to encourage a particular act of worship. The first act is to recognize
the presence and greatness of God (Presence). The second act is to pull our hearts’ affections off of things we adore besides God and then to adore Him (Renewal/Praise). The third act is to set our hearts’ affections on God (Commitment).
The first part of Spring Meadows’ service is designed to bring us into His presence. All the elements in this part are designed to shake the participants free from distractions and remind them about the possibility of meeting God in His presence. The preparation/devotional, the opening singing, the doxology, the “call to worship,” the prayer invoking God—all try to focus us on the fact that this great God is present and accessible. In addition, we remind ourselves that God alone is worthy of praise, that He is perfect and infinite and glorious. We sense His attractiveness; we find our hearts going out toward Him.
The second part of the service leads us to self-examination. “Confession” is a time to ask for forgiveness for our sins. But the cause of all violations of the law is the deep way in which our hearts adore other things besides God. During renewal we recognize what those false trusts are. We confess how we give our hearts’ truest devotion and adoration to things beside God. As we repent of these things, we must then hear the word of God’s pardon in the gospel, through Christ, and rejoice in it. If we don’t do that, we aren’t ready for stage three of the service. That is why this section follows repentance with the joyous reminder of God’s promise of grace (“Words of Encouragement”), and usually with a way to sing with relief and delight about His gracious forgiveness.
The third part of the service begins with the sermon. Having focused on God’s worthiness for our devotion/praise, and having pulled our hearts off of unworthy objects of devotion/praise, the third section begins with teaching that delineates some particular way in which we need to be committed to God. After the sermon there are times for self-giving/commitment. In this final part, the participants now very specifically “set their hearts” anew on God. The most complete worship service ends with the Lord’s Supper. This sacrament gives us an extended and concrete opportunity to renew our old commitments and make new ones.
Presence – Recognize what a treasure He is. Begin to address Him, conversing with Him instead of just thinking about Him.
Renewal/Praise- Recognize what you’ve treasured and invested in more than Him, and how this is the root of all your troubles. Praise Him out of gratitude for your forgiveness and adoption as His child.
Commitment-Treasure Him above all and invest in Him—give Him your sins, talents, resources, worries, dreams, goals, plans. . .give Him your entire self.