The worship of God is central to the life of God’s people in all ages. Under the old covenant (the Law of Moses), worship in the nation of Israel was centered in the Tabernacle-Temple with daily sacrifices, and weekly and annual sacred assemblies (Lev. 23). God’s intent for this form of worship was to point people to Jesus, the promised Messiah (Gal. 3:24-25). Following Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, the worship of the newly formed church (under the new covenant) focused directly on Jesus, with the gospel-shaped worship pattern shown in the diagram below emerging over time. Worship within this annual cycle includes 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.
GCI’s standard worship pattern
Along with many others in the body of Christ, worship in Grace Communion International follows the Christ-centered, gospel-shaped pattern of the Western Christian calendar detailed in the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). This pattern has the weekly and annual components noted below.
GCI’s weekly worship services focus on celebrating the gospel of Jesus Christ. These services are typically held on Sunday (the day our risen Lord was first encountered). For a suggested order of services (liturgy) for the weekly service, click here.
As shown in the diagram above (click to enlarge), GCI worship includes annual celebrations that highlight key aspects of the gospel with most focused on events in our Lord’s life and ministry:
- Advent Season—spanning the four Sundays prior to Christmas
- Christmas Season—beginning with Christmas Day on Dec. 25 and continuing through Jan. 5
- Epiphany Season—beginning with the day of Epiphany on Jan. 6 and continuing to the day before Ash Wednesday—the season includes the Baptism of our Lord (the Sunday after the Epiphany) and Transfiguration Sunday (the Sunday before Ash Wednesday)
- Season of Lent—beginning with Ash Wednesday and continuing to Passion (Palm) Sunday
- Holy Week:
- Passion (Palm) Sunday
- Maundy Thursday
- Good Friday
- Easter Season—beginning with Easter Sunday and continuing to Pentecost, including two special celebrations:
- Easter Sunday—celebrating Jesus’ resurrection
- The Ascension of our Lord—40 days after Easter Sunday
- Pentecost Sunday
- Ordinary time—the season between Pentecost and Advent, including two special celebrations:
- Holy Trinity Sunday—the Sunday after Pentecost
- Christ the King Sunday—the Sunday before the start of Advent Season
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 Christmas Season and his resurrection during 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. 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.