Q&A | Why Do We Confess Our Sins As A Church?

Femi Osunnuyi: We should start by answering the question, “Why do we do what we do on Sunday?” This covers not just the confession of sins but also other things like the preaching of the sermon, singing, and all the other things we do on Sunday. The Church is a gathering of the people of God structured in a particular way to bring an offering of worship to God, grow spiritually, and achieve God’s mission. On Sunday, what we do is a worship service – obviously, there are other things we do on other days of the week. The main reason we gather is to worship God.

So, when we come into the presence of God, as you might have noticed, we start with a call to worship because it’s a worship service. We are calling ourselves from wherever we have been to come and worship God. The next thing we do is to sing God’s praises and adoration. That is, we start with God, and we say, “Who is this God? What has the Bible said about Him?” Then, we sing because the Bible tells us that not only should we communicate with speaking we should also do so with singing. When we do this, we behold the glory of God which then makes us see who we really are before Him. For instance, the song we sang in response says, “Here I am knowing I am a sinful man”.  The singer is talking about God’s majesty, which reminds him that he’s a sinful man. The reason why we confess our sins as Christians is not because we do not believe that we have moved from a status of condemnation to one where Christ has made us righteous. Despite being made righteous in Christ, we do not always live righteously, and that’s just the truth. We sin. So, having seen the majesty of God, we are reminded not just of the sins that we have committed but also that He is a merciful God. This is the good thing about the God we worship. 

Therefore, we confess our sins when we think about how the gospel works. It starts with God, then it points to the sin in man, but then comes Christ and then our response. If you notice, this is the way our services are structured. God in our singing and adoration, man and our sin in our confession of sin, then Christ which then takes us to the section for the word: confessing what we believe, CityKidz, bible reading, preaching, and then a response in praying, giving and singing again. Then, we are commissioned through the benediction. We try to structure our service using elements of the gospel.

The final thing I’ll say on the confession is this: it’s a collective worship, not an individual one. When we gather, we’re not individually trying to worship God because we can do that at home. Rather, when we gather, we are expressing a collective worship as a body to God. We are given a moment to reflect so that we can say our own personal thing, but the reason why the confession is written and said collectively is because it expresses our collectiveness. It is City Church confessing our sin to God and receiving His pardon. I am not saying every church must do it, but we feel that this practice enables us to express the gospel in a vivid way.

Answered by Femi Osunnuyi, lead pastor of City Church, a gospel-centred urban church in the city of Lagos. He is happily married to Tosin and is father to Tofunmi and Timilehin.  

[This transcript has been edited for easy readability]