Liturgy & Order

There are many different ways to Worship God. and all are valid in their context. It is pivotal to any Preaching that there is informed discussion about local preferences and ways of doing things.

Christian liturgy is a pattern for worship used (whether recommended or prescribed) by a Christian congregation or denomination on a regular basis.  The way of doing things in a particular Church is often referred to as the Order Of Service.

When invited to Preach understand clearly which responsibilities you have and to what extent are there standards or expectations in the way things are done.

Are you responsible for just the Sermon Preaching, or Are you to facilitate the entire Liturgy

Other matters which need to be clarified include :-

  • Type of Music (Organ – Piano – Keyboard – Guitar – Band)
  • Hymn or Song Book used
  • Is data projection used

It may be useful to think through some of what the Bible has to say about liturgy?

Looking at Scripture, there is no formula “prescribed form for a public religious service” for the church.   At the same time, several New Testament passages do give us important ingredients which should be part of a healthy local church.  Among these are the following:

True fellowship: treating fellow believers as they are family, with the associated love, unity of heart, and giving toward others that is common to a good family (Acts 2:44-46).

The observance of the ordinances: baptism of believers and remembrance of the Lord’s Supper / Communion (Acts 2:41,42,46; 1 Corinthians 11:23-32).

Steadfast observance of the apostles’ doctrine, the reading of the Word of God, and the teaching / preaching of the Word of God (Acts 2:42; 1 Timothy 4:13-16; 2 Timothy 4:2).

Prayer and praise, with dependence upon the Holy Spirit’s direction (Acts 2:42,47; Acts 13:1-4; 1 Timothy 2:1-8;Ephesians 6:18).

Evangelism and discipleship, with all members of the church using their spiritual gifts to serve Christ as part of the Body of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Timothy 4:5; Ephesians 4:11-16; Romans 12:3-8).

Whether a church is liturgical is not as important as the soundness of the doctrine of the church and the soundness of its Leadership doctrinally and spiritually (1 Timothy 4:16; Acts 2:42).

While some churches are known to be “liturgical” because of their  formal and predetermined order or  manner of worship, all churches have a format which they usually follow.

Its obvious from Acts 13 that the church in Antioch was flexible in and open to the Holy Spirit’s leading. If a church is so liturgical and changes are not a possibility, liturgy has gone too far.   A church which is too structured may have real difficulties never allowing the  Spirit’s leading.

If a church is so liturgical and changes are not a possibility, liturgy has gone too far.   A church which is too structured may have real difficulties never allowing the  Spirit’s leading.

Liturgies which call for the recitation of repetitious prayers, responses, etc., can in some settings begin to be done without much thought or worship from the heart. When this happens they become “vain repetitions.”  In non-liturgical churches, certain songs and choruses are often sung repeatedly over time and carry the danger of being sung glibly rather than with reflection on what is being said and sung.

Order Of Service

The Order Of Service is the agenda of things to happen in a Church Service.  It tells everyone what is happening,   in what order and by whom.  Some denominations such as our Anglican friends have for centuries published and used Books of common prayer and order.

When invited to Preach or conduct Worship its a useful exercise to review recent editions of Church Newsletters or Weekly bulletins in order to get a feel for what has happened in the life and work of the Church and its people. This can often help us to avoid repetition of Hymns or Music etc.

Its helpful if the ‘Order Of Service’ is well set out and logical.  In many congregations where the Lay Preacher is asked to Conduct Worship’ there will be need to choose Bible readings; Order various prayers; Decide which Hymns or music to use and generally nominate a Theme.

When preparing an Order Of Service its very important to work with the person who will provide the musical accompaniment.    Personally the writer struggles with the musical side of worship and depends of our musicians for guidance.   An experienced Church Organist will have insights and experience around Hymnology which is the scholarly study of religious song, or the hymn, with particular focus on choral and congregational song.    In the writers local Church we are privileged to have experienced musical Leadership and Choral talent.

The writers local Church uses the following Order Of Service:-

The Order of Service for 10 AM Worship   (An example/guide)

Overall theme of the day_____________________

Choral Introit (Unannounced)

Welcome  & Weekly Notices (Parish Councillor)

Call To Worship

HYMN/SONG (1st / opening)

Opening Prayer

HYMN/SONG (2nd, ‘)

Prayer of Intercession & Prayers for others

Reading (a member often does this if desired)

Choral Anthem

Sermon/Message

HYMN/SONG (3rd – OFFERING can be collected during, or following)   

Take Up Offering & Dedication 

Prayer of Intercession & Prayers for others include The Lord’s Prayer Traditional/modern, sung or spoken 

HYMN/SONG (4th / closing) a good ‘hearty’ well known one

Benediction

Notes To Preacher

 You should be free to Minister as you feel led.
 Some people use the Lectionary while others are thematic or topical.
 The congregation is principally in the older age group but there are some children.
 We use Data projection and Large Print order of Service.
 We do use a Lectern microphone
 Some people use the Lectionary while others are thematic or topical.
 The congregation is principally in the older age group but there are some children.
 We use Data projection and Large Print order of Service.
 We do use a Lectern microphone
 The congregation is principally in the older age group but there are some children.