Attending a new church can be a little unsettling, especially if you have not grown up in the church or are attending one that is different from your home church. Feeling a little “unsettled”, however, is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is an opportunity to ask yourself some important questions, such as:
- Who is the Church?
- What is it here for?
- What are its beliefs?
- What is the source of its beliefs?
- What is the purpose of worship?
- How should the Church worship?
- What is my place in the Church?
These are just a few questions that anyone considering a relationship with the God’s family (the church) might seek to answer as they explore the Church.
Who is the Church?
When people hear the word “church” it stirs up lots of images–from steeples to soup kitchens and prayers to preachers. The Bible likens the church to a household, a body, a bride, a temple, even a nation. The church is not just a building but the people of God gathered in worship and ministry. Contrary to popular opinion it is not made up of perfect or “holier-than-thou” people, but individuals and families that have come to faith in Christ and are seeking to follow in His footsteps. Our Holy Trinity family is bonded in love for Christ and one another and a desire to share His transforming love with our community and beyond.
What is it here for?
The mission of the Church, according to Jesus is to make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19-20). Disciples are those who have come to faith in Christ and have committed themselves to follow Him. Their allegiance in life is first and foremost to Jesus and to the work of His kingdom in this world (Matthew 6:33; 1 Peter 2:9-10). Disciples are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.
At Holy Trinity we express this purpose in our motto:
Raising Up a Servant People to Display the Majesty of God.
We are committed to making visible the love of God in Christ Jesus through a servant’s heart and attitude as a church family and as individuals, so that others will be drawn to follow Him too.
What Are the Church’s Beliefs?
Throughout history the Church has expressed itself in a number of creeds and confessions that outline or state in great detail the basic beliefs of the Faith. At Holy Trinity we accept the following creeds and confessions that teach biblical truth:
- The Apostles’ Creed
- The Nicene Creed
- The Athanasian Creed
- The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion
All of these can be found in the Book of Common Prayer or the online Book of Common Prayer.
At the heart of these creeds is the message of the Gospel (the good news of Jesus Christ):
“We rejoice in the grace of the Triune God, who has forgiven our sins and given us redemption in Jesus Christ. We proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine, who became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, lived a life of perfect obedience to his heavenly Father, died on the cross to atone for the sins of the world, and rose bodily in accordance with the Scriptures. God the Holy Spirit draws us to faith in Jesus Christ, through whom alone we are justified and found acceptable by God the Father.” (A Place to Stand).
The Faith we believe at Holy Trinity is the Faith of the historic and undivided Church founded on Christ and His apostles.
What Is the Source of the Church’s Beliefs?
Our primary and supreme source of authority for our Faith is the Bible (II Tim. 3:16-17). As the Articles of Religion say, “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation.” (Article VI of the Thirty-Nine Articles).
We also accept the authoritative understanding of the Scriptures in the Ecumenical Councils of the Church and the consensus teaching of the Church Fathers. Such teaching helps guard us from private error and misinterpretation of Scripture.
What Is the Purpose of Worship?
When we take a look at the landscape of the Church we see many different expressions of worship. These differing expressions are largely due to different understandings of the purpose of worship. Some churches, for instance, see the main purpose of worship is to gather as many people as possible. Some see the purpose of worship is to be a training ground for ministry. Others believe that the main purpose of worship is to honor, praise and express their love for God with all of their heart, soul and mind. (Matthew 22:37-40).
At Holy Trinity we understand that worship is to focus on God. It is not primarily a Christian mode of entertainment or a classroom, or Christian therapy. We in no way demean the value of any of those things, but they are not the purpose of worship. The ‘audience’ in worship is not the congregation. God is the ‘audience’ and we come not so much to receive but to give ourselves to Him.
Glory to God in the Highest!
How Should We Worship in the Church?
Given the purpose of worship, this will have a definite effect upon the manner of worship. You will discover at Holy Trinity that our worship is biblical, Spirit-filled and guided by the manner of worship of the early Church. Our liturgy is designed to keep our focus upon the Lord in praise, in hearing the word of God, in prayer and in thanksgiving, and in meeting the Lord in the visible signs of His presence–the sacraments.
Worship at Holy Trinity is not designed according to the latest trends or fads. Our worship has been handed down to us through the centuries and is akin to the worship of heaven as seen in the visions of John in the book of Revelation.
What is My Place in the Church?
Paul said, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1-2). At the end of that chapter we are called to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. The point being, we cannot truly live the Christian life except in love and commitment to one another. The Christian life is not a private enterprise. It is lived out in God’s Church. Our place in the church is not as a spectator but as a participating member of God’s family.