Introduction to Reformed Worship

This short article is the first in a series of bulletin inserts on worship at Trinity URC


“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” These words, which make up the sixth verse of Psalm 95, are a favored selection to open worship services throughout reformed churches. They contain a beautiful invitation to come into the presence of God, to confess him as Creator and Shepherd, and acknowledge ourselves as the sheep of his hand. That’s what worship does, it reminds us of who we are (sinners in need of grace) and who God is – the Holy Creator and blessed Redeemer. Worship is the living expression of God’s relationship with humanity in Christ Jesus.

But perhaps you’ve wondered in the past – “why do we do what we do in worship?” Why do we have a liturgy, a call to worship, the reading of the law, the preaching of the gospel, or the celebration of the sacraments? Our prayer is that over the next few weeks these short articles will serve to deepen your understanding of the elements of worship to the glory of God.

Setting the stage for a series on the elements of worship brings us back to the Reformation. Specifically, to the doctrine of  Sola Scriptura. For our worship to truly be God honoring, it must be centered upon his holy Word. This truly is the first characteristic of Reformed worship: worship “according to Scripture.” The First Commandment tells us that we are to worship God alone his the splendor of his majesty. The Second Commandment tells us how we are to worship God: not according to our desires but only in the way which he has revealed. This means His Word must be central to every aspect of our worship service. The Third Commandment tells us that we are to worship sincerely. Our worship must not be vain, or empty. And the Fourth Commandment tells us when we are to gather for corporate worship, on the Sabbath day.

Right at the very opening of his Law the Lord reveals his will for our worship. This is how important proper worship is to God, this is how important it should be to us. The Reformers picked this up and therefore turned away from many of the man-made traditions and ceremonies of Rome in order to return to a simple, Scripture driven liturgy. So as you worship this Lord’s Day, pay attention to how saturated the service is in the written Word of God. From the call to worship, to the declaration of pardon, the sermon to the benediction, the Word of God stands central to our worship! Hear the Word! Feast upon the Word! Receive it by faith as the Spirit’s ordained means of conforming you into the image of Christ! And through the Word, hear God speak!


-Rev. Brian Vos and Austin Reed