The worship of God is central to the life of God’s people in all ages. In Israel under the old covenant, worship was centered in the Tabernacle-Temple with daily sacrifices, and weekly and annual sacred assemblies (Lev. 23). God’s intent for that worship was to point people to Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:24-25). With Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, and the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost, the church’s worship under the new covenant focused directly on our Lord, with the gospel-shaped pattern shown below emerging over time. The worship of the church includes the proclamation of the gospel through Scripture reading, preaching and singing; the administration of the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper); praise and intercession in prayer; and the giving of offerings.
Gospel-focused worship pattern
Along with many others in the body of Christ, worship in Grace Communion International follows the Christ-centered and gospel-shaped pattern of the Western Christian calendar as detailed in the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). This pattern is organized around a weekly celebration of the gospel (typically on Sunday, the day the risen Lord Jesus was first encountered). For a suggested order of services (liturgy) for this weekly gathering, click here. The worship pattern then includes several annual celebrations that highlight key aspects of the gospel with most of them focusing on events in our Lord’s life and ministry:
- Advent (four Sundays preceding Christmas)
- Christmas eve and Christmas day
- The season of Christmas (Christmas through January 5)
- Epiphany Sunday
- Transfiguration Sunday
- Ash Wednesday
- Lent (Ash Wednesday through Palm Sunday)
- Holy Week services:
- Palm Sunday (celebrated as Passion Sunday when there are no Maundy Thursday and/or Good Friday services)
- Maundy Thursday
- Good Friday
- Holy Saturday (Easter Vigil)
- Easter Sunday
- Easter season (Easter through Pentecost)
- Ascension Sunday
- Pentecost Sunday
- Trinity Sunday
- All Saints’ Sunday (Sunday after All Saints’ Day)
- Christ the King Sunday
Liturgies for church services & ceremonies
To assist congregations in following its standard worship pattern and content, GCI publishes RCL-synced sermons in GCI Equipper (click here to access) and the following liturgies for worship services and church ceremonies (click on the links below to download each one as a Word file).
- Weekly worship service
- Communion (The Lord’s Supper)
- Baptism of an infant
- Blessing of a child
- Renewal of marriage vows
- Anointing the sick
- Commissioning of a ministry leader
- Ordination of an elder
- Installation of a pastor
GCI congregations may adapt the denomination’s standard liturgies to accommodate local customs and needs (though the basic formats and content should be followed). Congregations also may adapt GCI’s standard pattern of worship, though all are to provide services celebrating Jesus’ birth during the Christmas season and his resurrection during the Easter season. It is recommended that each of the other key aspects of the gospel (listed at left) be celebrated in a weekly worship service at the designated time of year.
GCI congregations may hold their primary weekly worship service on any day of the week, though Sunday is the norm. Also, congregations may determine how often to offer the Lord’s Supper, though it should be offered no less than quarterly, and at least once during Holy Week. Offering the Lord’s Supper every week is recommended.
In making decisions concerning adaptations to GCI’s standard worship pattern and liturgies, congregational leaders should seek divine guidance, understanding that worship is the divinely created response to the glory of the triune God revealed in Jesus Christ.