Worship at East Cooper Baptist is the corporate expression of the delight, awe, and thankfulness that comes from knowing our infinitely glorious and sovereign God and Savior.
The following principles guide us in the planning of corporate worship that will unite us and help us focus on the essence of true, authentic worship:
God-centered and Christ-exalting
High priority is placed on the vertical focus of our corporate worship. The ultimate aim is to so experience God that He is glorified in our affections. Worship is for God and is ordered for believers to express their love, praise, and thanks to Him for what He has done. A high view of God is paramount.
All elements of our corporate worship will always conform to the truth of Scripture. The content of God's Word will be woven through all we do in worship and will be the guide for and the ground of all our appeal to authority. Substance, not style, is the litmus test for authentic worship.
An Expectant Cross-Centered Spiritual Dialogue
Our worship services will be structured to foster a spiritual dialogue between God and His people. He speaks through His Word, we respond through our singing, prayers, confessions, etc. We direct ourselves toward him and we earnestly seek His drawing near according to the promise of James 4:8. We believe that in worship God draws near to us in power and makes Himself known for His glory, our good, and for the salvation of unbelievers in the midst. We will expect God's presence and provide an opportunity for people to respond to the moving of God in their hearts.
Congregational participation in all acts of worship is paramount for reformed worship. Congregational singing, public reading of Scripture, litanies, testimonies, creeds, observance of the sacraments, times of silence, confession of sin and assurance of forgiveness, giving (and other elements) will be structured and presented in such a fashion that the congregation is equipped and encouraged to participate with vigor. Preaching is the apex of Biblical and reformed worship. In preaching, we encounter the living God of truth and have our hearts laid bare before him.
Earnestness, Intensity, and Authenticity
We will avoid a trite, flippant, superficial, frivolous atmosphere, but instead set an example of reverence, passion, wonder, awe, and joy. The utter renunciation of all sham, deceit, hypocrisy, pretense, affectation, and posturing (Be Real). We will avoid the atmosphere of performance, but rather envelop the atmosphere of a radically personal encounter with God and truth. We will try to sing, play, pray, preach and do all things in such a way that people's attention will not be diverted from the substance by a shoddy ministry. We will seek excellence in all areas for His glory. Natural,
The Manifestation of God and the Common Good
We expect and hope and pray (according to 1 Cor. 12:7) that our focus on the manifesting of God is good for people and that therefore a spirit of love for each other is not incompatible with, but necessary to authentic worship. Community and unity will be fostered and encouraged through authentic worship regardless of personal preference and stylistic issues. Expanding our own comfort zones is not only good for but is necessary for our worship health as a church.
Music Style, Selection, and Preparation
We seek to incorporate into biblical worship music that is thoughtful, well prepared, aesthetically pleasing, technically excellent, Christ-centered and Spirit-led. Our worship services blend the great hymns of our faith with contemporary choruses and songs of praise. “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:19) The tune, the musical style, and the instrumentation should support and not distract from the tone, mood, and message of the text. Attention will be given to make sure all music is theologically sound and carefully chosen.
Gifts in Worship
As an equipping church, we desire to be a place where believers who have been entrusted with artistic gifts may discover those gifts, develop those gifts, and give those gifts back to our Lord for His service and glory. We will use as many of these God-gifted people as possible in all our worship leadership teams (choir, orchestra, worship teams, ensembles, art teams, etc.) and equip them to serve and lead in our church and elsewhere both now and in the future. All participants in any form of worship leadership will be held to a high standard of spiritual, moral and ethical maturity, as they are a reflection of Christ and His church.
Head, Heart, Hands
Reformed, authentic worship aims at kindling and carrying deep, strong, real emotions toward God, but does not manipulate people's emotions by failing to appeal to clear thinking about spiritual things based on shareable evidence outside ourselves. An authentic encounter with a holy God will always result in heart change. Spiritual service, evangelism, and discipleship are a result of and natural response to authentic worship.
Passionate and Focused
We will strive to minimize any and all distractions in corporate worship to keep all our hearts focused on the weightiness of meeting with God in worship. This will include (but not limited to) starting services on time, careful planning, being fully and adequately prepared, keeping all a/v equipment, instruments and other tools up to date and in good working order, educating our congregation on the value and importance of corporate worship, limiting excessive volume, freedom of style within boundaries, being welcoming and friendly to all worshippers, modest dress of all worship leaders, minimizing announcements, etc. Nothing or no one should draw attention away from the focus of true worship – God Himself.