Chapter 5. Worship and Personal Discipleship

5.1 Personal Worship, Discipleship, and the Community of Faith

5.1.1 Personal and Communal Worship

Christians respond to God both in communal worship and service and in personal acts of worship and discipleship. The life of the Christian flows from the worship of the Church, where identity as a believer is confirmed and where one is commissioned to a life of discipleship and of personal response to God. The believer's life of response and discipleship flows into the Church's life of worship and service.

5.1.2 Worship and Life

Through worship people give attention to the presence of God in their life. From a Christian's life in the world comes the need for renewing one's commitment to God in worship; in worship one sees the world in light of god's grace; from worship come vision and power for living in the world.

5.1.3 Worship and Ministry

The Word of God proclaimed and received in worship calls each believer to faithful discipleship in the world. From such service the disciple turns to give thanks, to confess, to intercede, and to hear Christ's call anew. The rhythm of the life of the believer moves from worship to ministry, from ministry to worship.

5.1.4 Worship and Discipline

The life of a Christian is empowered by grace, is expressed in obedience, and is shaped by discipline. God has given as means of grace the elements of worship (see chapter II) to be used by households and by individuals as well as by congregations. It is appropriate that the Session/Parish Council by example and teaching to encourage people to use the disciplines described in this directory as expressions of their obedience and discipleship and as means for living and growing in the grace of God.

5.2 The Discipline of Daily Personal Worship

Daily personal worship is a discipline for giving attention to and accepting God's grace. The daily challenge of discipleship requires the daily nurture of worship. Daily personal worship may also occur in a gathered community of faith, in households and families, in groups, in whanau or hapu, or in private. Scripture, prayer, self-offering, reflecting and commitments to service are elements of daily personal worship (see chapter 2.) Baptism and the Lord's Supper are by their nature communal, but preparing for and remembering these Sacraments are important in daily personal worship. An aspect of the discipline of daily personal worship is finding the times and places where it is possible to focus on God's presence, hear God's Word, and respond to God's grace.

5.3 Scripture in Personal Worship

5.3.1 Scripture

Scripture is the record of God's self-revelation through which the Holy Spirit speaks to bear witness to Jesus Christ and to give authoritative direction for the life of faith. Personal worship centres upon Scripture as we read and listen for God's Word through the Spirit to speak. We may read Scripture for the guidance, support, comfort, encouragement and challenge which the Word of God presents. We may study the Scriptures to understand them in their literary forms and in their historical and cultural contexts in order to hear the Word of God more clearly and to obey more faithfully. We may meditate upon the Word,

i. committing passages of Scripture to memory,

ii. recalling and reflecting upon the revelation of God,

iii. analysing and comparing biblical themes, images, and forms,

iv. finding touchpoints and exploring relationships between Scripture and our own life,

v. entering imaginatively into the world and events portrayed in the Bible to participate in what God does and promises,

vi. wrestling with the challenges and demands of the gospel,

vii. offering ourselves afresh for life in response to God.

5.3.2 Helps in Using Scripture

It may be helpful to keep a record of our insights and personal responses to reading, studying and meditating upon the Word, or to share them with others. It is especially important in personal worship to read widely in Scripture. Using lectionaries, reading guides and various translations and paraphrases is helpful in seeking to hear the full message of God's Word.

5.4 Prayer in Personal Worship

5.4.1 Prayer

Prayer is a conscious opening of the self to God, who initiates communion and communication with us. Prayer is exploring and accepting, receiving and responding, speaking and listening, waiting and acting in the presence of God. In prayer we may respond to God in adoration, in thanksgiving, in confession, in supplication, in intercession, and in self-dedication.

5.4.2 Expressing Prayer

In personal worship we may pray in various ways.

  • We may wait upon God in attentive and expectant silence.
  • We may meditate upon God's gifts, God's actions, God's Word, and God's character.
  • We may engage in conscious conversation with God, putting into words our joys and concerns, fears and hopes, needs and longings in life.
  • We may contemplate God, moving beyond words and thoughts to communion of our spirit with the Spirit of God.
  • We may draw near to God in solitude.
  • We may pray in tongues as a personal and private discipline.
  • We may practise an individual discipline of enacted prayer through dance, physical exercise, music, or other expressive activity as a response to grace.
  • We may enact prayer as a public witness through keeping a vigil, through deeds of social responsibility or protest, or through symbolic acts of disciplined service.
  • We may practise the discipline of holding before God the people, transactions, and events of daily life in the world.
  • We may offer every activity to God through the day.
  • We may enter into prayer covenants or engage in the regular discipline of shared prayer.

The Christian is called to a life of ongoing openness to God, of "prayer without ceasing" (Rom 12:12; 1 Thess. 5:17) Care must be taken that prayer in personal worship expresses the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

5.4.3 Helps in Prayer

In exercising the discipline of prayer in personal worship one may find help for shaping the form and content of one's prayers

i. in scripture, especially the Lord's Prayer and other prayers, the psalms and other biblical songs;

ii.  in hymns and other songs;

iii. in books of prayer and worship aids;

iv. in the heritages of prayer and devotion expressed in literature and visual arts.

Such resources may also help one see the occasions and subjects of prayer, as may the daily news, church publications and guides to personal worship.

5.5 Other Disciplines in Personal Worship and Discipleship

5.5.1 The Lord's Day, Disciplined Observance of:

i. God has given means of grace beyond Scripture, Sacraments and prayer.

ii. Christians have received the Lord's Day to be kept holy to the Lord. It is the beginning of the believer's week and gives shape to the life of discipleship.

Observance of this day includes

a. participation in public worship,
b. preparation for and involvement offering social care and compassion,
c. intentional recreation and rest from daily occupation.

In observing this discipline, Christians whose work takes place on Sunday should set aside other times of the week for these observances.

5.5.2 Seasons

The seasons of the Christian year provide a rhythm and content for personal worship and discipleship. Special seasons, occasions and transitions in one's own life also may prompt personal worship and discipleship.

5.5.3 Disciplines of Fasting and Enacted Prayer

Christians observe special times and seasons for the disciplines of fasting, keeping vigil, and other forms of enacted prayer. It is also appropriate to observe these disciplines at any time, especially in preparation for specific acts of discipleship or as acts of penitence, reconciliation, peacemaking, social protest, and compassion.

5.5.4 Christian Giving

Giving has always been a mark of Christian commitment and discipleship. The ways in which a believer uses God's gifts including money, material goods, personal abilities, time should reflect a faithful and generous response to God's self-giving in Jesus Christ and Christ's call to minister to and share with others in the world.

5.5.5 Stewardship of Life

Those who follow this discipline of Christian stewardship will find themselves called to lives of simplicity, generosity, honesty, hospitality, compassion, receptivity, and concern for the earth and God's creatures.

5.6 Christian Vocation

5.6.1 God's Call

God calls a people

i. to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour;

ii. to follow Jesus Christ in obedient discipleship;

iii. to use the gifts and abilities God has given, honouring and serving God

  a. in personal life,

  b. in household and families,

  c. in daily occupations,

  d. in community, nation, and the world.

5.6.2  Our response

i. A person responds to God's call to faith in Jesus Christ through Baptism and the Lord's Supper and through life and worship in the community of faith.

ii. A person responds to God's call to discipleship through the ministries of God's people in and for the world and by co-operating with others who work for compassion and justice.

iii. A person responds to God's call to honour and serve God in every aspect of human life

  a. in their work and in their play.

  b. in their thought and in their action,

  c. in their private and in their public relationships.

5.6.3  Worship and Work

God hallows daily life, and daily life provides opportunity for holy living. As Christians honour and serve God in daily life, they worship God. For Christians, work and worship cannot be separated.

5.7 Worship in Families and Households

5.7.1 Household Worship

When Christians live together in a family or in a household it is appropriate that they observe times of worship together. When it is possible to worship together daily, households may engage in

i.   table prayer, which may be accompanied by the use of Scripture and song;

ii.   morning and evening prayer;

iii.  Bible reading, study, reflection, and memorisation;

iv.  singing psalms, hymns, and other songs;

v.  expressions of giving and sharing,

vi.  discussion of community and world events.

Given the complexity of schedules and the separations incurred in daily occupations, it is important to encourage the discipline of regular household worship.

5.7.2 Children in Household Worship

The parent(s) or the one(s) exercising parental responsibility should teach their children about Christian worship by example, and by discussion and instruction. Where there is household worship children would be encouraged to participate. Children should be taught appropriate elements of worship used regularly in the Service for the Lord's Day.

5.7.3 Special Occasions and Seasons

Household worship should reflect those occasions of special recognition and celebration which occur in the life of the Church and in the lives of those in the household. Birthdays, baptismal days, and other anniversaries are all appropriate occasions for special observance. It is also important in household worship to anticipate and remember the Lord's Day and the celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Seasons of the Christian year provide direction and content for household worship. Worship in this setting will also recognise the cycle of seasons in nature and the rhythm of community, national, and world life, as well as those events and needs which remind believers of their call to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the world.