Principles For Worship

Our worship is God-centered. Our worship is Messiah-centered. Our The worship is Scripture-centered. We pray the Scriptures; we sing the Scriptures; we teach the Scriptures.

Our worship is open to everyone – Jews and Gentiles, but those who come must be willing to adapt to a Jewish worship style.

Our worship is a fusion of Jewish and Christian songs and prayers. We embrace the best of our Jewish and Christian heritages. We use some traditional Jewish prayers. We may use a traditional Jewish prayer that is introduced with a New Covenant emphasis. We use some traditional Jewish prayers that have been modified to reflect the coming of Messiah and our New Covenant understanding.

Our worship is a mixture of old songs and prayers mixed with contemporary songs and prayers. Yeshua said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of Heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”

Our worship services are structured (we use responsive readings and prayers), yet there is opportunity for some spontaneity. After a song is sung or a passage of Scripture is read, a spontaneous prayer may be prayed by the prayer or worship leader, or someone who is asked to pray by the prayer or worship leader. We make time for silent prayers. We may be praying a prayer together, but we will pause at the end of a section, and give people to apply it, and prayer their own prayer from it silently.

One of the weaknesses of a worship service that is liturgical is that it can get stale. The same old prayers and songs, as good as they might be, are used over and over again. Many of the people begin to tune them out and they prayers lose their vibrancy. We mix prayers and songs and Scripture readings together so that it comes out fresh each week. We try not to use the same prayers each week. For example, if we pray the Shema, we have several versions of it.

Our worship is based on the knowledge that most of the American Jewish community, particularly the younger generation, does not want long services with lots of Hebrew.

Our worship is understandable. We use Hebrew and English. When Hebrew is used it is always translated into English, based on the principle that in public worship, it is better to say few words in a known language rather than many words in an unknown language. Understandability in public worship is essential.

We believe that it is permissible for Christians and Messianic Jews to participate in the Lord’s Supper as often as they met. We observe the Lord’s Supper once a month, on the first Sabbath of the new Biblical/Jewish month. It is open to both Christians and Messianic Jews.

Our worship is open to charismatic phenomena, but we are extremely cautious and discerning when it comes to their actual practice. When it comes to charismatic phenomena, we prefer to err on the side of caution. Art Katz wisely said something to the effect that “it is the path of wisdom to keep our distance from all questionable phenomena and teachings, trusting that whatever we might be missing is not greater than what we are protecting. The Lord is not offended by a carefulness that would rather err in the direction of His holiness than risk subverting what has already been given as pure and true and reliable and trustworthy. Don’t throw away what is proven, that which you know is true, that which is precious and dear for that which is questionable.”

By | 2013-01-31T02:51:48+00:00 December 27th, 2012|Categories: Prayers, Hagada, Machzor|Tags: |Comments Off on Principles For Worship

About the Author:

Rabbi Loren Jacobs is the senior rabbi and founder of “Congregation Shema Yisrael” (which means “Hear O Israel”). Congregation Shema Yisrael is a Messianic synagogue which was started in 1986 when Rabbi Loren and his wife Martha moved to Michigan to proclaim the Good News about the Messiah to the Jewish people living in the metro Detroit area. Rabbi Loren was raised in a Jewish home in the Chicago area, and became a Messianic Jew in 1975. He graduated from Moody Bible Institute’s Jewish Studies program in 1979 and received a Bachelor’s degree in Biblical Literature from Northeastern Bible College in New Jersey in 1986. His wife Martha is a fifth generation Messianic Jew, which is quite unusual. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.