One who travels about a great deal and visits in many different churches, large or small, has an opportunity to observe many things that a local pastor or elder never sees. While there is a certain form, or routine, that is somewhat alike in all churches, regardless of size, yet in some respects the opening and closing exercises are vastly different. I do not know that all church services must open and close alike. There should be opportunity for individual expression as the occasion demands, but there are a few things which, in my judgment, should be changed. They are only minor items, and may not seem of much importance, but it is the accumulation of several minor things that composes the opening exercises of any church service.
Once when I was visiting a city church for the first time, the pastor explained the order of service to me, and then said, "The speaker always steps forward and offers the invocation." I was the speaker for the day, and it fell to my lot to give the invocation. But this was my first visit to that church, and I was a complete stranger to the congregation. It seems to me that it would have been much better for either the pastor of the church or one of the elders to give the invocation. Should not the visiting speaker's first public utterances be made after he has been presented to the congregation?
In another city church one of the local elders had charge of that part of the opening service which dealt with church letters. The first request for a letter of transfer was somewhat lengthy. The elder read it in full. The next letter to be considered was in regular form, but the elder read it in full also. After reading the requests, he then spent some time in telling the congregation what fine Christian people these were who had requested letters of transfer. Several minutes were consumed in granting these two church letters.
Would it not serve every purpose to have the clerk write the names of those who desire letters, on a slip of paper, with the names of the churches their wish to join, and the names of those who wish to unite with the church, together with the names of the churches recommending them? With this information, the elder could simply state that requests for letters of transfer had been received for the persons concerned, or for those who wished to unite with the church, and that this was the second reading; then the vote could be called.
I sat one Sabbath morning on the platform in a city church with the pastor, two local elders, and another visiting worker. We had been informed by the pastor that when we knelt for prayer we should kneel facing the congregation. When the time for prayer came, the one who was to pray stepped to the front of the platform and asked the congregation to kneel for prayer. I noticed that the one who offered the morning prayer knelt on one knee, the one at my right knelt on one knee, the others on both knees. While those in the audience are not necessarily looking about during prayer, would it not be better if all on the platform would kneel uniformly? No doubt God hears prayer regardless of the posture, but I am sure it would add dignity to the service if all on the platform would kneel on both knees in public worship.