The weekly public worship service is the most important activity in the Christian life. Here, God meets with His people. He speaks to us in His Word and Sacraments, and we respond in prayer, confession, and song. He stoops down to feed our souls, strengthen our faith, and build us up as the body of Christ. We come ready to hear, ready to receive, and ready to please Him.
Nowadays, worship services are often more about pleasing ourselves than pleasing God. It has become common for worship services to focus on entertaining the audience, looking more like rock concerts and motivational seminars, rather than the holy worship of the triune God. But the Bible commands us to Hebrews 12:28-29 “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” Therefore our worship service need to be structured in an orderly and reverential manner that we would do nothing for man’s glory all through the service, but only for the glory of God. Following is our order of service:
This is prior to the service, as a preparation of our hearts every worshipper should be seated silently and commune with God for few seconds or minutes. Come at least 5 minutes ahead of the service begins. Spend time quietly with God, asking the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy, and the preparation of the heart.
CALL TO WORSHIP
The service begins with the Triune God calling us with His Word to worship Him with reverence and awe. A text, often a Psalm, is read as a summons to the people of God. He calls us to worship Him and receive from His open hand the good gifts He provides for our souls. Every worshipper needs to eagerly hear the call to worship as the chairman has well-chosen the passage to call the worshipper’s attention toward God. No walking around or talking each other when call to worship is done.
SONG OF PRAISE
Having heard God’s call to worship Him, we respond by lifting up our voices to Him and singing a psalm or biblical hymn. The words we sing to the Lord are carefully chosen, as the content of each song must conform to Scripture, and should provide us with a deeper understanding of God.
Having heard God’s call to worship Him, and sung praises to Him, we respond to Him in thanksgiving prayer. As the covenant people of God, rise to our feet and invoke (call upon) the name of God, confessing that we are sinful people and need His mercy, and offer our praises of thanksgiving to Him.
READING OF THE LAW
God tells us His will for our lives in His law, that is, the commands of Scripture. God’s law tells us clearly how we are to live and what God expects of us. It also reveals God’s holiness as well as our sinfulness, that we understand God’s demands for our lives.
CONFESSION OF SIN
Having heard God speak to us in His law, we are driven to confess our sins. First, we do this publicly and corporately, confessing to God as a people, “against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4). Then, we do this silently, confessing our own individual sins.
DECLARATION OF PARDON
Having confessed our sins to God, we hear the joyful announcement of His promise that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). As Christ’s ambassador, the minister declares pardon to all who trust in Christ and repent of their sins.
CONFESSION OF FAITH
We confess together the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed, or a section of the Westminster Confession of Faith. We do this not only to be instructed in the Christian faith, but also as a prayer to God in which we declare that we stand united in the truth He has revealed: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Eph 4:5-6). The creeds and confessions beautifully summarize that revealed truth.
We respond to God’s grace with our monetary giving, which is for the work of the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth, the advancement of the gospel in the world and the making of disciples. The Word reminds us in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
The minister prays on behalf of the congregation, bringing “the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15), as well as intercession for the church and the world. This includes a sharing time as well for the congregation to express their gratefulness to the Lord for His mercies in their lives for the past week and sharing the prayer items for the congregation to pray together.
God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path (Psalms 119:105). We listen to Him speak as His Word is read. This too – “the public reading of Scripture” (1 Tim 4:13) – is an act of worship.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
We call upon the Lord again, this time asking him, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power” (Ephesians 1:17-19).
This is one of the most important components our worship. All the things that are mentioned above climax toward this moment of faithfully preaching God’s Word and faithfully receiving it as the Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The minister gives a faithful exposition of the text, which ultimately calls us to repentance of sin and faith in Christ (2 Tim 4:2-4).
Having heard from our covenant God in His Word, we now join him in a covenant meal. As the preached Word promised us God’s favor in Christ, so also our heavenly Father adds this visible conformation of His unchangeable promise. We partake together to commune with and participate in the body and blood of Christ (1 Cor 10:16). As we partake the elements, we are reminded of the gospel of Christ which He exhibited on the Cross, and we receive strength and comfort for our daily walk with Him.
SONG OF RESPONSE
Having heard the word of Christ and participated in the body and blood of Christ, we “let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly,” by “singing psalms and hymns and spiritual sons, with thanksgiving in our hearts to God” (Col 3:16).
BENEDICTION & THREEFOLD AMEN
In the worship service, the triune God gets the first word and the final word. And both are announcements of His grace. With uplifted hands, the minister blesses the people of God from the Word of God, which is available to all who receive it through faith: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor 13:14).
Our service concludes with the congregation offering a silent from of thanksgiving to God for speaking to them and committing their lives according to His Word revealed.
WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
The minister takes this time to acknowledge anyone who first time come to the church and welcome to the congregation, and also makes the important church announcements for the week.
I urge every member and visitor of this church to take this order of service very seriously and prayerfully co-operate in following each and every component of this Order. If we do so, we would be committing ourselves in worshipping the Lord in the beauty of holiness. May the Lord help us!
Ps. George Skariah