WHEN, WHERE, AND HOW DO YOU WORSHIP?
by Charles Robey
Thank You My Lord
"Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp. Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! ..." ( Psalm 105:1-6)
The word "worship is defined as, " an act of religious devotion usually directed to a deity. The word is derived from the Old English worthscipe worthiness or worth-ship. It is simply Praising God in Spirit and Truth. Glorifying God with the heart of David. It's all about God and His glory! ( John 4:24) And this act of worship may be performed individually, in an informal or formal group, or by a designated leader.
Worship is very important in the life of any Christian, be it in the still quietness of a home or collectively with a body of believers. However, the writer of Hebrews prompted by the Holy Spirit, has penned the importance of corporate worship. There's just something about meeting together that influences and lifts each other up in the Lord. ( Hebrews 10:25)
Worship could be any day of the week, but the principle of meeting together in worship is valid. Most Christians meet on Sunday because of the resurrection; because Jesus appeared to His disciples on Sunday, and the early believers met on Sunday. Maybe some did it so they could still attend Sabbath services; or maybe to distinguish it from the Jewish religion, whose leaders rejected Christ.( Acts 20:7) ( 1 Cor 16:1)
When the Gospel accounts were written, Sunday was the day of Christian worship and was apparently understood to be a memorial of the resurrection. When Sunday worship was the practice, Christians must have connected it with the Lord's resurrection on a Sunday. This may have also influenced the way the Gospel writers treated the sabbath controversies as they showed that Jesus was superior to the sabbath and that his actions offended the sabbath-observing Pharisees.
So whether you worship on the Sabbath, worship on the Lords Day or worship on a Wednesday evening prayer service, it's just good to get together. ( Psalm 99:5)
The church should be about the business of ministering to the needs of others. This includes not only sharing the gospel, but also providing for physical needs ( food, clothing, shelter ) as needed. ( James 1:27) William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, once coined the phrase," Soup, Soap, and Salvation". He said a person could not get saved until you fed them and cleaned them up. Thus, the S.S.S.
The church should also equip believers in Christ with the tools they need to overcome sin and remain free from the evils of this world. This is accomplished by biblical teachings and Christian fellowship. ( 1 John 1:9 )
The main problem, in this modern day culture, is not when we meet to worship, but how we worship. We are missing the main ingredient, that being the "old time religion".
You may be a new attendee or have been in church a half century. You may have attended every denomination know to man. You may have been in churches where the preacher spoke in dulcet tones or in others where he'd speak in tongues. You may have been where the congregation sit quietly in pews or where they jump in the aisles.
You may have been where they would raise their hands in praise and others where they kept their hands on their wallet. If the service doesn't meet your needs, over time you may slowly drift from the middle row, to the back row, then on out the door. You see if the Holy Spirit doesn't direct our church service, every segment is all done in vain. ( Acts 2: 41-47)
I have been in many church services within the last half century, some in which I have taken an activity part. And I have seen all variations of worship service formats, some good and some bad. However, the only true service format is one guided by God's Holy Spirit.( Romans 8:26) So here's my take on a sample 'Sunday Morning Worship Service. My opinion and my opinion only.
SUNDAY MORNING ORDER OF SERVICE
This service should be the high light of our entire week, for it is the "Lords Day" service. The service should be conducted reverently and orderly. It should not be a place dedicated solely to social fellowship, but have an atmosphere of God's Holy presence.
The service length should be about an hour, give or take according the Holy Spirit's leading. This time should be divided among the preliminaries and the actual sermon.
The preliminaries could include, but not be limited to, praise and worship singing, prayer, scripture reading, announcements and offering,
If a "meet and greet" segment is included in the preliminaries, it should be short and blend, as not to hinder the spirit of the service. It is best to have the pianist or organist play through the next upcoming hymn, during this segment. Then, the music director should just start leading the hymn. The congregation will get the subtle hint and the service will move without any confusion.
I have observed many "meet and greets' become a regular social event, lasting several minutes, only to disturb the continuality of the service . When this happens, the Holy Spirit is almost always quenched. I must admit, I'm not a fan of the "meet and greet". If the church is doing its job, there is no need for such activity.
A word about the announcements. The main emphasis should be placed on recognizing visitors, giving the schedule of coming events, and announcing the prayer requests.
Concerning the offering. Some offerings are taken in conjunction with the announcements, while others are taken at the conclusion of the service. My personal opinion. The concluding portion of the service, after the sermon has ended, should be reserved for a time of solemn reflection and soul searching. This time of prayer should not be interrupted.
Concerning the church bulletin. The bulletin should be a written extension of the churches philosophy. It should contain such items as the order of service, church prayer requests, a schedule and times of current activities, the sermon notes and a statement of "what we believe'. The bulletin is a good witnessing tool for visitation and to pass out to prospective church visitors.
Be sure and include your church web site and/or email address. ( A note of caution. When you do include the web site, please make sure the site is up-to-date )
Concerning the "praise and worship singing. This should be a combination of the old hymns and the newer praise songs. A good idea is to sing a good prayer chorus leading into the prayer time. Caution should be taken, here, as this portion of the service will often times causes division between the older members and the younger folk.
Yes, it's OK to keep time with the music by clapping occasionally. In Europe, the churches will clap on chorus, when the music is appropriate.
Concerning praising the Lord. What has happened to that old "brush-arbor" type atmosphere, where the "Amen's" and the "Hallelujah's" echoed, as the spirit led, and hands were raised in silent worship.
Concerning the pray time. I miss those open prayers, whereby the people would kneel all over the sanctuary, only to be supported by others joining in with a soft "yes Lord" or "let it be so Lord". ( Psalm 99:6) Just call me a "dinosaur", if you may. I still believe in the "old time religion" service format. ( Romans 12:1-2)
After the preliminaries, comes the sermon. This should be limited to around 30 minutes, again depending on the moving of the Holy Spirit. One famous pastor once said, " if you can't get a body saved in 30 minutes, you need to move on". Another famous pastor has said, "if a six year old cannot understand my message of salvation, then I have failed".
The Word of God should be the ultimate authority of any sermon. And in no way should the teachings of the Holy Scriptures be pre-empted by a "watered down gospel". The preacher is charged, according to the scriptures, to preach this Word ( 2 Timothy 4:2), and not simply give a dissertation on nursery rimes ? ( 2 Cor 11:4)
A very important wind up to any sermon should be the invitation. An invitation for the unsaved to come to repentance, an invention for the believers to renew their faith, and an invitation for those who wish to join the church . The old fashion alter is a vital part of this sacred portion of the service. What has happened to these alters? The " old time religion" pastors would often times give an invitation at all events, including weddings and funerals.
There you have it, my recommended Sunday church service format. Your thoughts may differ mine, and that's OK. Together, our main theme should be getting people "saved" and edifying the "saints" ( Colossians 3:16)
I have been very concerned and convicted over the direction the modern day church is taking. We just need to get back to the "old time religion".