Worship is the highest task of the church. Our predecessors in the faith understood this. They led a great Reformation of the church in the sixteenth century, not only to challenge corrupt behaviors and recover gospel doctrines, but also to restore true worship.
In the twenty-first century the church has become divided over the purposes and principles of worship. Labels like “traditional” versus “contemporary,” or “high church” versus “low church,” or “formal” versus “Spirit-led,” can be misleading. They imply false dichotomies and misunderstood motives. So instead, we describe worship at Sandy Springs as simple, substantial, and scriptural.
Our worship is simple because it is not adorned with religious sights, smells, and sounds; nor is it structured around holy days and seasons beyond the weekly Lord’s Day. The complicated rituals and calendars of the Old Testament have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, whose priestly ministry they foreshadowed. Now, through Jesus, we have clear, simple, spiritual access to God.
God requires that everything in worship should be done “decently and in order.” Therefore our worship services follow a predictable, simple sequence of hymns, prayers, preaching, and Scripture reading. Services are mostly led by the pastor, who represents Jesus Christ as his minister.
Our worship is substantial because it serves God’s glory and answers mankind’s deepest need. That need is for fellowship with our Creator – to know him is true life! Adam and Eve once enjoyed it, but lost it when they listened to lies and rebelled against God. Now through Jesus Christ, God has graciously re-established fellowship in the form of a covenant with his people. Once again, human beings may “glorify God, and enjoy him for ever.”
This fellowship will be perfected in eternity. But the church already enjoys it in Sunday worship, which is really a covenant conversation with the living God. He speaks to us as his word is read, preached, or depicted in sacramental form. We respond to him through singing, praying, and giving. This conversation is reverent, grateful, joyful, and substantial, and is able to engage the the mind as well as the heart of a believer.
Our worship is scriptural in two different ways. First, its activities are regulated by Scripture, not by mere tradition or personal preference or outreach effectiveness. Scripture forbids man-made activities in worship; instead, it teaches us the proper way to approach God, honor him, and enjoy him. God desires worship in spirit and truth, expressed in the biblical activities of praying, singing, giving, reading Scripture, preaching, and celebrating the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Second, the content of our worship is filled with Scripture. The Old and New Testaments are not only read, but explained and applied in the sermon with scholarly care and pastoral passion. (About half of the worship service is spent in preaching.) Our songs and prayers are filled with the language and ideas of Scripture. Each worship service begins with a summons from Scripture, and ends with a blessing from Scripture. Even the sacraments are signs and seals of scriptural promises!
You can learn more about our worship from this website. But the best way to understand it is to visit us and join in the worship of God with us this Sunday.