Despite my fascination with the confessional liturgical world and the spontaneity of charismatic theology, I’m not exactly sure how one goes about “designing” an “order of service” that incorporates the two. So I’d like to hear from you about what you think is the “best” (or most preferable?) model to follow for a church’s worship gathering. Let’s re-frame the question:
How would you design the order of a worship service?
Feel free to also describe the ambiance and overall atmosphere of such a worship gathering. If you come from a more “liturgical” conviction, include an example of the readings and if you come from a more “charismatic” tradition, paint the picture of what exactly happens in your mind. If you have candles, explain! If your service includes a funny video clip, expound the reason! If you have the auditorium dim or bright, explain why!
I look forward to reading your thoughts…
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.
I think it should start with singing. Then we should sing some more. Have a five minute sermon, and end with more singing.
Or.. we should start with foot washing, then men greeting each other with a holy kiss, have several readings from Song of Solomon, more singing, take the offering, have communion with real wine, more singing, and then we could sacrifice a red heifer outside on the smoker and then have a dinner on the grounds.
Ok, ok, those were some ideas that the Egges and we came up with… just to humor you, Luke. Now my serious post will have to wait until after supper… 😉
Yeah, the sacrificing a heifer and serving it up as steaks later was my contribution. (smirky face)
For realsies, though…
My first pick for an order of service would look something like this:
8:30-9:30 a.m. (or the night before) some dedicated prayer warriors meet together to pray fervently for the service, for God’s will and direction, and for the Holy Spirit to move on people’s hearts in a life-changing way.
9:30-10:05 The worship music team sings worship songs as people are entering, with the words on the screen so people can sing along if they want.
10:05 – Greet the people, perhaps share a scripture verse that reflects the focus of that day’s meeting, possibly briefly review announcements, and then pray for the service.
10:10 – The worship music team resumes worship with fervency. I personally prefer starting with fast/bouncy songs, because it helps me to get my mind off life and onto God, with slower songs later.
11:00 – after a lot of time with the music, it would be good to have a time of testimonies, sharing, etc., as the Lord leads.
11:10 – sermon
11:55 – time for prayer, etc., with the worship team playing another couple of songs.
Obviously, the times would be somewhat flexible, but that would be the general format.
1. I’ve seen God do some pretty cool things at churches that have a group of fervent prayer warriors that meet beforehand to pray.
2. A worship team whose focus is on worship, rather than performance, can do a lot to help soften hearts. As we worship, God moves. It’s just easier to worship along with music that is focused on Him, than to try to do it on our own. A long time of worship music is REALLY effective at this.
3. Having the announcements earlier in the service can sometimes help people to be informed, without breaking up the “flow” of the service too much, and will also hopefully help people to be able to ignore the stuff in the bulletin for the rest of the service, rather than reading it during the singing or the sermon.
4. The Bible says we’re supposed to come to church prepared to share something (song, hymn, spiritual song, etc.), but that is pointless if there is never any opportunity to share what God may have given you to share, so the “testimony” time is a good thing. People can share the blessings/victories they’ve experienced, or a scripture, etc.
Despite the detailed time table I just posted, my number one concern about a worship service is that God be in charge of it. It is good to have a plan, but that plan should be conceived in prayer ahead of time, and it should be flexible enough that if God is clearly calling for a different direction, the leadership should be willing to change direction if needed. I’m also really not opposed to just having it be different each week, too. Not in a “we have to entertain people so they don’t get bored” kind of way, but more in an organic way, as it seems to fit the requirements of that particular day.
With a reverent worship and praise that brings us into an awe & fear of God that causes us to fall prostrate before His holiness with trembling hearts as if dead as “the glory of the Lord fills the temple!”
Ps. 34:11 Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Heb. 12:28-29…let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
It starts with confession and repentance.
Lion of Judah come and roar in our midst.
(Psalms, Isaiah, Revelation)
i am not really sure what a different service would look like…. I have really known only what has been at TCF. But when i was first asked this question one of the things that popped into my head was the day that I got saved…. and I think it has something to do with not nessecarry the order of service but something else that is as equally important…..
The Day that I asked Jesus to come into my life… Jason Pence was preaching and “Luke”this guy who was a different kind of pastor then I had ever known came over and said ” I think God instructed me to give this scripture to you, and also said I NEVER EVER do this” ( i didnt beleive him and watched for him to do it again after that and never did) I guess what i am trying to get at is that I believe that if we have Elders of the church….why is only one person always responisible to preach ALL the time? if we all agree that every Christian need to give but also be able to receive and be encouraged and filled with the holy spirit…Wouldnt it make sense more often to have guest speakers to help encourage and fill our pastor? I know as a teacher when I teach a few weeks in a row I feel spiritually tired…and I teaching the lil kids. I can only imangine how exhausting it would be to Preach every weekend without the refueling… Just a thought…if I think of more i will post again
Interesting thoughts, Darcy. I think, whether you realize it or not, you highlight the necessity of allowing spontaneous things to happen and personal ministry.
Regarding your last point, I think 1 Tim. 5:17 helps shed some light on that subject. Paul says that all Elders (pastors/overseers) should be “considered worthy of double honor.” The “double honor” is, in my opinion, contextually referring to financial payment (cf. 1 Tim. 5:18). But, Paul also makes a distinction between those who specifically function in the role of teaching/preaching (in a similar way that the apostles clarified their role of teaching and praying in Acts 6).
So all elders should be considered worthy of double honor, with a priority being placed upon those who function in the role of teaching and preaching. This leads me to conclude that not all elders functioned as teachers and preachers in the same way. It’s true that all elders must be able to teach (1 Tim. 3:2), but in what context? Clearly not all people who function as elders have the same gifting, and I think that’s totally okay.
Speaking for myself and for many other pastors, we get lots of “filling” through our own study and preparation plus by listening to some of the thousands of sermons that are online through podcasts. I myself listen to probably three to five different sermons a week.
There are different roles and functions and giftings in the Body of Christ, and that is great, IMO.
If I were to design a worship service, I would start with
the lights dim. To set a mood of
relaxing and spending some time with the Lord.
The service would start with a prayer from someone on the worship
team. Then they would sing three songs
that were suggested by people from the congregation previously. After the music, you should have any
announcements or testimonies for the week.
Communion would be next and I think it should be a weekly event. After that people should greet each other and
the children should be released to their classrooms. As people are greeting each other, turn the
lights up, so the speaker can be seen and people feel like they should “wake up”
and listen to the message. After the
message, a prayer should be said and the offer for people to come up for
prayer. There should always people
available to pray with anyone who wants/needs prayer. While people are praying, soft music should be
played in the background and the lights should be lowered. This helps put people in the mood to relax
and bring them closer to the Lord.
Some random thoughts on the worship services for the Lord’s Day
by Wayne Conrad on a Monday afternoon (8-8-2011)
Why? Why do Christians gather for meetings that a designated
as worship services?
We gather as believers to worship God in and by Christ Jesus
through the enablement of the Holy Spirit under the direction of his previously
given revelation (the scriptures of the old and new covenants). Corporate
worship is a direct obedience to God’s commandments and for his glorification. Corporate
worship is also a necessity for Christian growth.
The purpose of the gatherings is to glorify God in the declaration
of his praise and his truth revelation centered in His Son Jesus the Messiah.
The first principle of worship is that it is to be God centered. God himself is
the focus of the worship gathering. The
glorification of God through his truth revelation also results in the
upbuilding or edification of his people. At times it may result in conversion
of some who are present but its focus is not evangelism. Corporate Christian
worship must have both an upward and horizontal dimension but the vertical must
be primary. It must be biblical in its content and form. We cannot worship
acceptably any way we choose! Acceptable worship is by God’s choice and
In the planning of corporate Christian worship we must look
to God’s Word, the Scriptures for direction and content. There are many
principles we can learn from the old covenant worship but the particulars of
worship have been altered by Christ fulfillment of that covenant. We must take direction from examples of
worship and the prescriptions of worship in the New Testament. This is our solid foundation.
Since the church did not begin in the 20th or 21st
centuries it is necessary and proper that we look at history of the early
church to help us understand how the early believers understood and practiced
the principles and teachings on worship. Also it is helpful to consideration
the Reformation when there was a great recovery of some of the earlier patterns
to varying degrees.
The place to begin is with clear statements of Scripture and
the place NOT to begin is with our feelings, our emotions and likes or
dislikes. Certainly these factors will impact our evaluations but they are not
to be our beginning point or our standard of judgment.
There need not be a conflict or disconnect between a planned
and orderly service and the living active ministry of God’s Spirit. God himself
is the one who gave commandments to use order and form in his worship. The
first 4 of the 10 commandments concern God as the proper object of worship with
some detail of what is acceptable and unacceptable worship.
It can be helpful and I believe scriptural for us to think
of corporate worship as a meeting between God in Christ and his people in which
dialogue is to occur. This dialogue is of a special nature because it involves
the holy God and people. Just as there is protocol when we meet with important
and superior in rank people there certainly protocol when we meet with God.
Now all gatherings for worship have some sort of pattern.
Even those who say they are not liturgical have at least a bare bones
structure. But our quest must be to have
as full of biblical pattern as possible so that God is properly acknowledged as
God and is approached through Jesus Christ our only Mediator and his people are
spiritually nourished through his Word.
Here are some questions we should consider. In looking at
Christian worship gatherings as described or prescribed in the New Testament
what element do we know were present and should be present in our gatherings?
Have culled those from the scripture text what elements found in the old
covenant scriptures would be unchanged by the coming of Jesus Christ? What
principles of worship from both Testaments are to be embodied in our structure
both form and words (speech, deeds and actions of leaders and congregants)? How
should these be structured in a movement of divine human dialogue and
encounter? There is no one set invariable pattern but a general pattern can
certainly be discerned and implemented.
In planning the various elements of a service of worship we
must ask questions of each one? Why are
we doing this? What is its biblical authorization and what is its spiritual and
practical purpose? How does it relate to the movement and flow (vital pattern) of
the worship gathering and event? We can
plan the meeting but we cannot plan the inner transaction of worship. Our
planning must assist the worshipper to encounter God in His Word by his Spirit
in fellowship with the company of believers gathered.
A fourfold general pattern of our gatherings for worship can
be seen as: Gathering Together before our God; Approaching Him in worship which
centers on His attributes and our humble recognition that He alone is God and
we are his people; the Declaration of His truth and our participation in it
through the Lord’s Table and our departure for service though whole life
worship of living. In this structure God speaks and we respond and through its
movement the gospel should be discerned.
Let me pause here and post- just some beginning food for
I appreciate your food for thought. Here’s a thought…Paul always spoke/prayed a blessing over God’s people. I know we are there for God, but Paul always spoke/prayed blessings as well as giving God’s Word. I have also been thinking on Samuel, as a young child, growing up “in the church.” Can you comment on children’s place in the worship service/gathering?