Worship is the heart of what we gather to do as a community of faith. We seek to worship the Triune God, not ourselves, not our culture, not even our own giftedness. We gather in worship to give thanks to God, to offer adoration to God, to pray for God's mercy and guidance, to hear from God's word and to be challenged to live for God's kingdom.
Worship at Wilshire is "traditional," in the sense that we seek to remain faithful to the stream of Christian and Baptist heritage that has shaped us. We do not start with the felt needs of the culture and then craft a religious experience to address those needs. Instead, we begin with the traditions of the church—the creeds, the hymns, the liturgies, the preaching—and invite people to join the ongoing stream of faith.
You'll find no big screens and projectors in the Sanctuary at Wilshire. We sing out of the hymnals found in the pew racks because we believe the old and new hymns of the church are rich in theology. The hymnal encourages worshippers to sing in parts, blending voices in a symbolic act of unity. You'll find no "praise team" leading worship because we believe worship is not a performance like a pop music concert but rather a time for the people of God to sing together.
Worship leadership includes an intentional mix of clergy and laity, male and female, young and old. This intentional mixture demonstrates weekly the common ground on which we approach the task of worship. We gather in community, and we worship in community.
Following the tradition of the larger Christian church through the centuries, we normally include both an Old Testament and New Testament reading in worship. One or both texts will relate to the topic of the morning sermon. Sometimes, we will have a Gospel reading in addition to the New Testament reading, drawing from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We stand for the reading of the Gospels to symbolize the priority given to the four books, which tell of the life and ministry of Jesus on earth. The Bible is not a flat text to be read with equal emphasis on every part. We read the Bible through the lens of the Gospels, particularly the words of Jesus. Worship leaders at Wilshire follow what is known as the church year—a cycle of annual markers beginning with Advent. In this context, three one-year cycles of Scripture lessons have been outlined and adopted by large segments of the Christian church as a means to progress systematically through the Bible. Most Sundays, the sermon text at Wilshire is drawn from one of that week's predetermined Scriptures.