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View Some Thoughts on Worship

Some Thoughts on Worship

by Rev. Jolene Bergstrom-Carlson
ECC, Central Conference
(Many of these thoughts are compiled/paraphrased from The Covenant Book of Worship.)


In worship, the story of who God is and what God has done is told from creation through
the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ to the end of the age. First and foremost,
authentic worship is a response to God’s action in our world –past, present, and future.
As the leaders of worship plan and prepare, they celebrate, rehearse, and remember not
their story, but God’s.

Worship is not about the worshipers, their mental or emotional state, but about God. God
is both the object and subject of the community’s worship, since as we are reminded; the
Bible is not the story of the human search for God, but God’s search for humanity. In
Paul’s words, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” (2Corinthians 5: 18-
19).

True worship, Jesus emphasized, is worship “in spirit and truth”—“in spirit” as in
humility and praise we approach our God’ “in truth” referring to God as the source
and focus of our worship, particularly in God’s self-revelation through the creative
and redemptive word. Even though we worship in particular places and times, the
fundamental setting for worship is the temple of the human soul, and the essential
action of worship involves a response of the will, the mind, and the emotions of
the worshiper. Worship is the total offering of persons and congregations to God.

The worship of the apostolic church is nowhere described in the New Testament.
We know its elements, however, from Luke’s brief description in Acts 2: 42 of the
Jerusalem church’s activities: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and
to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Worship, this suggests, was
founded on “the apostles’ teaching” would have been the explication of the Jewish
Scriptures. The prophets and sages of Israel prepared the way for the coming of Messiah
Jesus. Surely the psalms of Israel provided both the substance and the models for their
own song. In addition to the Jewish Scriptures, “the apostles’ teaching” included the
teachings of Jesus himself. His words and deeds were recited and discussed and formed
the background for communal reflection and praise. The very existence of our four
Gospels proves this point. For the believing community, the message and model of Jesus
were foundational. They remain so for the worshiping and believing community today.

Fellowship: Recognizes that worship in the apostolic church was communal.
Christians did not come to worship to be alone with God, but to be with brothers and
sisters…it meant worshiping together. This implies both support and accountability.

Breaking of Bread: This most likely refers to the Lord’s Supper. Early Christian
worship involved both word and table. To break bread in this manner was not only to
remember what Jesus had done, but also to bring the reality and results of Jesus’ past
death into the present. Paul warns the Corinthian church not to eat the bread or drink the
cup in an unworthy manner (I Corinthians 11:27, 30).

Prayer: Praise and adoration, confession and complaint, petition and lament
and thanksgiving were all present in the prayers of the community. To pray is to
acknowledge the presence and power of God and God’s stewardship over the life of the
whole community in its personal and corporate realities.

The order of worship can vary according to time, place and people.
The following offers four models for ordering the worship:

Traditional:


From earliest times, the worship of the church has found its basic pattern
around word and table. The following order of worship honors this approach…

GATHERING

OPENING MUSIC/PRELUDE
GREETING AND LIFE OF THE CHURCH
SONGS OF GATHERING
CALL TO WORSHIP
HYMN/SONG
INVOCATION

THE WORD

OLD TESTAMENT READING
NEW TESTAMENT READING
(Confession and pardon may be included here)
ANTHEM/SONG (coral, vocal, instrumental)
Children’s Time
SONG/HYMN OF PREPARATION
GOSPEL READING
SERMON
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
LORD’S PRAYER


THE TABLE

OFFERING
(Scripture sentence,
Offertory, music response,
Prayer of dedication)

CELEBRATION OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

SENDING

SONG/HYMN
CHARGE AND BLESSING
POSTLUDE

Praise and Worship:


This approach distinguishes between praise, in which the
participants focus on God and are invited into God’s presence (we praise God for
what God has done), and worship, which is seen as opening one’s heart and actually
encountering God (we worship God for who God is). This form finds theological
grounding in biblical passages that present praise as being distinct from worship (e.g.,
Psalm 95), and that suggest that only after praise has been offered can one begin to
worship. The immediacy of the Spirit, a desire for intimacy, and the belief that music and
informality best reach others are core values of this form.

PRAISE AND WORSHIP

WELCOME
(This may be done before, during, or after the playing of the first song)


SONGS
(Two widely used alternative approaches to ordering the songs are:

The Temple Model: The move from praise to worship is patterned after the Old Testament
tabernacle and temple, moving from the outer courts to the inner courts and into the Holy of
Holies.

Outer Courts: Songs of testimony emphasize praise for what God has done. They are upbeat in
nature, related to personal experience. Songs often use “I”, “we”,” me”.
Inner Courts: The transition from praise to worship, these songs move from what has been done
for and in the believer to who did it, emphasizing thanksgiving.

Holy of Holies: Songs bring believers away from themselves and into a full encounter with and
understanding of God, emphasizing who God is in person and character, quiet devotion, and a
sense of intimacy.

The Relational Model: This model focuses upon an increasingly intimate relationship between the
believer and God as well as the community as a whole.

Invitational Phase: Songs call people to worship. They are often highly participatory and upbeat
with interaction between members of the congregation.

Engagement Phase: Emphasis moves from the individual believer’s experience to God; songs are
addressed to God.

Adoration Phase: More subdued songs of praise and adoration express thanksgiving.

Intimacy Phase: Songs are quiet, intensely personal expressions of an intimate relationship with
God.

Closing Song: A more up-tempo song draws the individual back into the worshiping community
and helps make the transition to the next part of the service

Prayer: To conclude this section, the entire congregation may speak or sing prayers of praise
and adoration simultaneously and aloud, usually underscored with music; or a closing song may
follow prayer.

BRIDGE

PASTORAL WELCOME AND MINISTRY

BAPTISM AND THE LORD’S SUPPER (When celebrated)

PRAYER AND WITNESS
(Prayer requests, praises, testimonies, healings, laying on of hands, etc.)

OFFERING (music)

MINISTRY OF MUSIC/DRAMA/CREATIVE EXPRESSSION
(Usually related to preaching/teaching theme)

PREACHING/TEACHING

SERMON
CLOSING SONGS

The Story:


This model of worship is shaped by the entire story of God from creation to the new creation. The gospel is heard and experienced through both personal and communal engagement in the action of the story.

By song, by Scripture and prayers, by personal experience, by drama and art, the story is told. Through suspense, complexity, surprise and resolution the plot unfolds in a logical yet intuitive manner. Through much of the service the focus is on God’s work and action; near the end the focus returns to the congregation and the believer’s life of faith.

GATHERING

OPENING SONG (calling people into God’s presence)

WELCOME

SONGS OF PRAISE (focused on God using “we” not “I” language

PRAYER/INVOCATION

INTERACTION

SONGS OF PREPARATION

SCRIPTURE READING (This is not the sermon text. It invites participation with congregation)

CREATIVE EXPRESSION/INTERPRETATION (The text is illuminated through dance, drama,
video or other medium)
RESPONSE OF PRAYER (This may be silent or aloud, 2-3 in a group, or in group)

SONG OF RESPONSE

OFFERING

PROCLAMATION

SONG OF PREPARATION

SERMON SCRIPTURE PREPARATION

PRAYER

PROCLAMATION OR SERMON

PRAYER

RESPONSE
RESPONSE (This can be song, reading, music, etc.)

WITNESS TO GOD’S WORK (This can be a testimony)

ANNOUNCEMENTS

FINAL CHALLENGE (Benediction/words of encouragement, etc.)

CLOSING SONG

Fourfold Worship:


This has its roots in Scripture and the earliest records of
worship in the first-century church. In “the word” we open our lives to God,
inviting God’s word to live in us and shape us to be like Christ. In the “response”
we affirm our faith and celebrate through word and sacrament, or other acts of
response, recalling God’s mighty deeds of salvation in Christ. In the “sending”
we go forth to serve God and our neighbor. In all these actions we receive God’s
saving gift and healing work.

GATHERING

PRELUDE

WELCOME AND LIFE TOGETHER

CALL TO WORSHIP

SONGS/HYMNS

INVOCATION

THE WORD

SCRIPTURE READINGS

Old Testament
Psalms
Epistle

MINISTRY OF MUSIC

GOSPEL LESSON

RESPONSE (sung or spoken)

SERMON

RESPONSE

PRAYERS OF THE CHURCH (This may include confession, thanksgiving, and intercession.)
SONGS/HYMNS

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH

OFFERING
SERVICE OF HOLY COMMUNION (This may include opportunity for prayer and anointing for
healing)

SENDING

SONGS/HYMN
CHARGE
BENEDICTION

POSTLUDE

A concluding thought comes from the Danish 19th century lay theologian Soren
Kierkegaard who said that:
“In Worship the congregation is the performers, the clergy and musicians are the
directors and prompters, and God is the audience.”

May we all come humbly to worship our beloved God in “spirit and in truth”

Category:Worship and Preaching
Category:Training Center Topics & Workshop Resources

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