When I saw a tweet about the new series Stranger Things, I knew right away the series was going to be a hit.
Tweny-four hours later, I’d finished the entire series (ashamedly)! The incredible sound track, “coming of age” vibe, and 80’s feel hooked me. I started naming playlists after the show and listening to more 80’s music. I even began visiting music stores that had classic synthesizers/pianos reminiscent of the 80’s. The more I began to learn about the show, the more I came to love the show. I began to absorb elements of the Stranger Things soundtrack into my songwriting. My taste in TV shows suddenly became circa 1980. Stranger Things became something I love.
In his book, You Are What You Love, James K.A. Smith makes the argument that humans are more than just knowing beings. He notes that most of us have gone into a sermon, had a bit of an “ah-ha” moment, but walked straight away into the same old sin. The knowledge did not change us. But practices we use, in conjunction with the knowledge, in faith guide us into repentance. Similarly, the knowledge of Stranger Things did not cause me to love it, but the action of me diving into the world of Stranger Things grew a love for it.
This isn’t just a textbook concept; it’s biblical.
- Romans 12:2 – Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
- Philippians 2:12 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling
- Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
These texts point to habits, experiences, and practices that help generate affection and conformity toward Christ. We all have habits. And our habits, schedules, and things around us shape who we are (and what we love). Liturgy is all around us. When you walk into a mall or browse through an app on your phone, you are being told what to be, what to look like, how to respond and ultimately what to love. At City Life, our aim is for your loves to be formed around the gospel story and focused on Jesus.
These biblical texts instruct us to do formative things as a a church body: singing, reciting, teaching, listening, praying, obeying, thanking, etc. Liturgy is not a genre of music, nor is it cold, dead orthodoxy; it is a immersive, formative experience we cannot escape. We want to immerse you into a gospel liturgy. Gospel liturgy feasts on the satisfying truths of Christ. Gospel liturgy feeds you, not as a mere “brain on a stick” but like an existential shark, moving and darting for life. Here are some of the formative ingredients of our Sunday liturgy.
Call To Worship
Worship is a response to who God is and what he has done. The Call to Worship, then, isn’t a simple, “Hey, good morning everyone!” Instead, it is a gracious summons for the church to worship the triune God, an invitation to receive God’s grace through Christ by enjoying his presence and delighting in his truth.
Saint Paul instructs the church to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (1 Tim. 4:13). Reading Scripture aloud reminds us that we share a common authority and King. It reinforces the discipline of meditating on what God has done. It also prepares our hearts to hear from the Holy Spirit. During this time, we encourage you to slow your thoughts, focus on God’s Word, and ask the Spirit to speak to you.
Confession & Assurance
The Confession and Assurance part of the service is like a picture of our relationship with God—an alternating pattern of God’s initiative and our response. This shapes our faith over time by underscoring the power of the gospel and highlighting the tenacity of God’s covenantal love. Participating in this as a community helps shape our identity as saints together, a people committed to loving one another.
Communion is a physical, ritual action, mandated by the Lord Jesus, through which God nourishes, sustains, comforts, challenges, teaches, and assures us. Although highly symbolic, it is a profoundly spiritual time meant for reflection on life, death, resurrection, and promised return of Jesus Christ. We encourage you to receive God’s grace and forgiveness for your sins, and to cherish Christ as your Redeemer and King.
The Sending is the final exhortation to take what we have received into the world. It is a reminder that we do not exist only for ourselves, but also for the city, that as we have received the gospel, so we are sent with the gospel to bless those around us. It is a final charge for us to go into the world and abide in him, to love deeply, run from sin, trust his Word, and represent the Kingdom of Christ.