I love my church and I love gathering with God’s people to worship together in our particular church. However, I also love the opportunity that vacations afford for visiting other churches.
Observing how they worship, experiencing church as a visitor, sitting under someone else’s preaching and not thinking about a service that I am responsible for has, many times, challenged, encouraged and even refreshed me.
However, having said this, I often miss an element of the service when visiting other churches that I have come to love more and more.
It is an element that has a long history in the worship of the church. It is pastorally sensitive, encourages the believer, exhorts the unbeliever and is entirely biblical. Yet, for all that, I find that it has become “a spin of the roulette wheel” as to whether the church I am visiting will have it in their service or not.
I have worshipped at Baptist, Presbyterian, Reformed and Independent churches that don’t have it, while I have been to others that do.
It doesn’t seem to matter whether the church has a traditional, liturgical, blended or contemporary service—some will have it and some won’t.
I would suggest that no matter what Evangelical Christian church we attend, whether Baptist or Presbyterian, traditional or contemporary, we should expect to see it.
What is it? A confession of sin and an assurance of pardoning grace that accompanies it.
I wouldn’t expect to find a confession of sin in the order of worship at Joel Osteen’s church. I wouldn’t expect to find it in a Unitarian church. In those places, everyone is “alright.” Sin is that negative thing that fundamentalists are always harping about.
But I do expect to find it in the average gospel-proclaiming Christian church.
Why should it be in our services? Because we love the gospel, we want to remind ourselves of it and we want to encourage joyful worship.
We love the gospel, so there is an odd sense in which we should relish confessing our sins.
We don’t wallow in our sin, enjoy it or are proud of it—just the opposite. It is something we want to be far from. It is our enemy and grieves us. But we relish confessing it, because we love the gospel. The gospel is good news, because we are sinners. No sin, no gospel.
Not recognizing our sin while worshipping a holy God, at the very least, takes away from the proclamation of the gospel.
We should also want to confess our sins weekly in corporate worship because it is a good reminder.