The Ordinary Means Of Discipleship

The Ordinary Means Of Discipleship

The means of grace in worship gatherings are the ways God promises to help His people

Chad Ashby with Todd Morikawa

Todd Morikawa doesn’t age. Somehow he has navigated the stresses of pastoring Kailua Baptist Church for over thirteen years without getting a single gray hair. Some of it has to be those tremendous Hawaiian genes. But I suspect much of it is due to Todd’s quiet, enduring confidence in the ordinary work of God among his people.


I chatted with Todd recently about the approach he and his elders have taken in their corporate Sunday gatherings (avg. 100+): “I don’t know that there is anything that the local church does that is more shaping than corporate worship. The means of grace in worship gatherings are the ways God promises to help His people grow.”


Five Ordinary Means.

At Kailua Baptist, the elders trust Word-centered, Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled worship to fashion disciples. Ligon Duncan’s categories for corporate worship are helpful: (1) read the Word, (2) pray the Word, (3) sing the Word, (4) preach the Word, and (5) see the Word. With a gentle chuckle, Todd commented, “Those five elements are so clearly biblical—the Bible teaches that these things please God in worship. You can fill your time so easily with those five elements. Why would you do anything else?


Todd cited Ryken’s Give Praise to God and Chapell’s Christ-Centered Worship as shaping influences. Particularly helpful was the collection of protestant liturgies in Jonathan Gibson’s Reformation Worship—“The book really struck me in how similar the liturgies were . . . The reason they were so similar is that they were not trying to reject the Catholic church writ large, but just trying to fix what needed to be fixed while maintaining as much connection to the Church catholic as possible. So many elements were still good.


Have modern churches become too clever in our attempts to improve disciple-making? Even the Reformers appreciated that the Church’s historic worship was forming God’s people well: “People just need to be walked by the hand through worship and guided by their pastors. It is one of the best shepherding opportunities to preside over and lead people through worship, to take them to the throne of grace.”


Intentional Service Structure.

At Kailua, the service has two threads. The first teaches the people through a weekly renewal of the gospel. The people behold God’s glory, which leads to being undone by sin and renewed in forgiveness in Christ. Believers are then fed the preached Word, which strengthens fellowship around the Lord’s Table and builds confidence to make common confessions aloud.


The second thread follows the acronym ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) and guides many of the prayers of the service. Rather than stringing songs together, the service teaches God’s people to sing in response to hearing God speak from both testaments. Services usually run an hour and 15minutes—and that includes four to five Scripture readings and four to five prayers! “No need to rush. Lots of time for lots of good elements, no complaints.”


God-honoring Results.

The result? Kailua Baptist has learned spiritual unity—“Feeling and hearing everyone participating has that unifying effect: Everyone is excited about this as I am—or more than I am!” Even the children are catching on, excited to participate in the elements of the corporate worship. Moreover, the booming recitation of creeds joins the voices of the present congregation with the testimony of the saints.


What do we need to disciple God’s people? Kailua Baptist encourages us not to underestimate the power of the ordinary. When regular patterns of worship threaten to become dry and lifeless, we might be tempted to abandon them. But Todd presents a time-tested alternative: “When people are afraid of things becoming rote, just pray against itjust do it well.”






*Click here to see a sample Order of Worship from Kailua Baptist Church

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