[Worship in both form and content calls for careful study among us. We must not be so iconoclastic that we abolish all the forms in which reverence is expressed, nor so ritualistic that warmth, devotion, and spontaneity are smothered in our external formalities. Here the pastor of one of our large churches expresses his ideas on worship by way of suggestion and for adaptation according to local circumstances. —Eds.]
Public worship is one of most important Christian exercises in which one may engage. This statement is based upon the fact that true worship is an active thing rather than a passive attitude. Unfortunately, either because the worshiper lacks understanding or because the service itself is without meaning, many who gather in the sanctuary from week to week look upon the experience of worshiping together as something that is generally approved but which can be neglected, without serious spiritual loss.
A meaningful hour of worship does not happen; it must be carefully planned. The pastor, while he may work closely with the minister of music or other appropriate personnel, is largely responsible for what occurs during public worship, and for the impression made on the congregation. His concern for the service must go beyond prayerful and thorough sermon preparation. What takes place before he arises to deliver the message can open closed ears and quiet troubled hearts so that those needy souls will receive the spoken Word that otherwise they might reject. Therefore, intelligent and unhurried planning should go into the first part of the worship service as well as careful preparation for the ministration of the Word.
The act of worship should have form and order. However, the order may vary con. siderably because of circumstances. The size of the congregation, the musical talent among the members, the suitable or unsuitable physical characteristics of the church building, and many other conditions must be considered in developing a form of service that will best create a worshipful atmosphere. Also, elements common to Protestant forms of worship should be remembered by the minister as he plans for an acceptable and impressive service. Audience participation is vital and may be provided for by responsive Scripture reading, the use of not less than two solid and appropriate hymns, and by the minister leading the congregation in repeating together the Lord's Prayer. These things go a long way in making visiting Christians feel at home in our churches as well as adding a simple and desirable dignity to our worship.
We have been invited by a staff member of the Ministerial Association to submit to THE MINISTRY the order of service that we are using at the Battle Creek Tabernacle. Perhaps what we are doing here will serve to illustrate some of our statements concerning public worship. In submitting our worship order for scrutiny we are merely trying to be helpful, and in no sense do we feel that it will meet the exact need of every congregation. The order of service has gradually been developed into its present form and is not the work of any one person.
THE ACT OF WORSHIP
Organ Prelude: "Adagio" .....................Guilmant
Pastoral Call to Worship
Choral Call to Worship
Processional Hymn 304: "Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken"
The Invocation and Lord's Prayer R. E. HOEN (The congregation will join in the Lord's Prayer) "Gloria Patri" (689)
(The congregation will remain standing and join in singing)
THE DEDICATION OF GIFTS
Presentation of Tithes and Offerings Choral Prayer of Dedication
Offertory: "Hymn Tune, 'Holy Spirit, Light
THE PREPARATION AND DEDICATION OF HEART
Hymn 409: "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah" Reading of God's Word: "Guidance," Hymnal, page 604
Prayer ............................THE ASSISTANT PASTOR
THE MINISTRATION OF THE WORD Anthem: "Blessed Are the Men Who Fear Him" (fr. Elijah) Mendelssohn
Sermon: "Concerning Life's Promises" THE PASTOR Hymn 259: "All the Way"
The Prayer of Blessing ----------------- L. E. CRANDALL
Postlude: "Prelude and Fugue in C Major" Bach
A few words of explanation may help to make this order of service more meaningful. The choral call to worship is sung by the choir from the foyer of the church. The audience stands during the singing of the processional hymn, and the choir, singing with them, proceeds down each main aisle of the sanctuary toward their place in the choir loft, which is located behind the ministers. The congregation remains seated during the singing of the hymn listed under THE PREPARATION AND DEDICATION OF HEART. Also, the people are seated following the choral benediction so that the deacons can usher them from the sanctuary in an orderly manner. We believe that other parts of the service need no explanation since they may be envisioned as one reads the above Act of Worship.