What Not To Say at the Beginning of a Worship Service

"Why do pastors or service leaders use phrases like these? And what are the most beneficial things for pastors or leaders to say at the beginning of a worship service?" - Challies

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T Howard's picture

More legalism from the Gospel crew.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Some people think too hard! Let people say what they want. Our service:

  1. Piano prelude
  2. Pastor welcomes
  3. Prayer of invocation
  4. Singing begins
  5. Etc., etc.

The welcome will typically involve an unscripted 15 - 30 seconds of some generic remarks. Acts more as a "time to sit down!" notice to congregation.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Bert Perry's picture

Maybe it's my Methodist upbringing talking here, but I am more and more in favor of a "call to Worship" that is unambiguously Biblical in its message. Maybe open with "Good morning, I'm glad you're here.  Let's all stand for...."

On the flip side, "how are you doing?" is a great way to start 1:1 discipleship.  However, in a congregation, you're going to have both guys that are rejoicing and people that are despairing--how do you process all that in a service?

(also on the flip side; Tom, would love to hear you out on what you have to say......)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dgszweda's picture

We have a formal call to Worship at the start of our service.  It does not include congeniality or a general welcome.  I have found the more formal nature of it with specific discussion around why we are hear as well as helping us prepare our hearts to be paramount to what takes place next.

M. Osborne's picture

Our church has a welcome and announcements at the top of the hour. Then, people are asked to silence their cell phones, to stand, to pray on their own and prepare their hears for the call to worship. Then a man (rotating weekly among willing members) reads a Scripture passage (chosen by the pastor) without comment and goes directly into prayer (encouraged to be "we" and never "I"), and then leads the congregation in the Lord's prayer.

So you can have a less formal welcome and still create a clean break between greetings and the actual worship service.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

M. Osborne's picture

T Howard wrote:

More legalism from the Gospel crew.

The article states, "And I fully agree with Wilson that even if none of them are objectively wrong, they also aren’t particularly helpful." I fail to see how aiming to make service elements helpful is a case of legalism?

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Mark_Smith's picture

Is the phrase "Good Morning" bad. Hey, maybe you had a bad morning?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I usually began with "welcome..." and hit a couple of a announcements, but to me, that wasn't the beginning of the worship service. It was just the beginning of the gathering. The worship service started when we read a Psalm or a portion of a Psalm, standing, then sang a consciously God-focused song (usually a for-real hymn, not a gospel song or a chorus) followed by prayer.

The whole idea of that service was to elevate it above the ordinary experiences of the week. I'm sure it became very ordinary for those involved, but even then it was "Sunday morning ordinary" not "Mon-Sat morning ordinary."

We worship the God who is transcendent and also, through Christ, immanent. Seasons of worship should reflect both.

T Howard's picture

M. Osborne wrote:

 

T Howard wrote:

 

More legalism from the Gospel crew.

 

 

The article states, "And I fully agree with Wilson that even if none of them are objectively wrong, they also aren’t particularly helpful." I fail to see how aiming to make service elements helpful is a case of legalism?

There was a letter found in some recently discovered papyri believed to be written by an ancient Christian community in the city of Corinth. The letter was titled, "WHAT NOT TO BUY IN THE MEAT MARKETS." In the fragments left to us, the unknown author makes these statements: "You shouldn't eat meat sold in the Corinthian agora. Doing so isn't objectively wrong, but doing so isn't particularly helpful." The author goes on, it is believed, to make a case against buying food in the agora and recommending Christians in Corinth only buy from Christian cooperatives.

Jeff Howell's picture

I see both sides of this issue, and understand it. When I was younger, I thought all the intro stuff was a waste of time. "Let's just get to the preaching!" Then I found myself striving for the whole service having a thematic flow, and to have it well thought out, almost choreographed, so that there was no down time and no wasted moments or movement. But, I think I am at the place now where a lot depends on the individual church, as well as the church culture and location. It will involve the mindset and personality, to a degree, of the lead pastor or the one primarily responsible for putting together the service order. What is the goal? A family feel, where we are so glad we are all together to ascribe glory to God? A transcendent worship experience like the cloud on the mountain or the Mount of Transfiguration? I agree with Aaron that there will be times of both. 

I still say "Good Morning" or "Welcome to CBC," even though the reality is that there are some who don't believe it to be a good morning. Nevertheless, when I pray, I acknowledge the brokenness of all, the heartache of some, and the strength of the Lord in others, praying that those who are strong will find and encourage those who are hurting. This is part of corporate worship in the NT. Much of our "evangelical liturgy" called the order of service is simply an attempt to work through all that is believed to be important as we are gathered together. It would look entirely different in a persecuted church setting, I am certain. 

M. Osborne's picture

T Howard wrote:

There was a letter found in some recently discovered papyri believed to be written by an ancient Christian community in the city of Corinth. The letter was titled, "WHAT NOT TO BUY IN THE MEAT MARKETS." In the fragments left to us, the unknown author makes these statements: "You shouldn't eat meat sold in the Corinthian agora. Doing so isn't objectively wrong, but doing so isn't particularly helpful." The author goes on, it is believed, to make a case against buying food in the agora and recommending Christians in Corinth only buy from Christian cooperatives.

Humor me. You made this up as an attempt to make an argument by analogy, right?

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

T Howard's picture

M. Osborne wrote:
Humor me. You made this up as an attempt to make an argument by analogy, right?

Yes.

My biggest issue with Challies is that he takes an article entitled, "3 Things to Be Careful About Saying at the Start of Your Service" and turns it into the prescriptive imperative of "What Not To Say at the Beginning of a Worship Service." Then, he seeks to diagnose why these phrases are used (none of the reasons he gives are good) and concludes that those who use these phrases are not serving the best interests of their congregation.

So, if you happen to use these greetings that have been recently classified by the "Gospel crew" as verboten, you're a pastor who isn't really shepherding your people well.

That is baloney and legalism.

M. Osborne's picture

You may be able to stick the charge of "baloney" (your term) or "overthinking" (Tyler's assessment) or even "high-brow snobbery" (my own suggestion, alhough I don't think it is). I just don't see how you can stick the charge of legalism.

Your analogy is taken from a passage where Paul pushes us to look past the merely "lawful" to what is "helpful" (1 Cor. 10:23, ESV). Pastors study both exegesis and homiletics / rhetoric because they want to be helpful.

I guess I'm trying to pin down whether you're objecting to the effort to make every aspect of the worship service conducive to worship, or if you're disagreeing with the specific application. If a church asks the congregation not to bring their McDonald's meal into the auditorium and eat during the service because it's not conducive to worship, is that legalism?

 

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

T Howard's picture

M. Osborne wrote:

You may be able to stick the charge of "baloney" (your term) or "overthinking" (Tyler's assessment) or even "high-brow snobbery" (my own suggestion, alhough I don't think it is). I just don't see how you can stick the charge of legalism.

Your analogy is taken from a passage where Paul pushes us to look past the merely "lawful" to what is "helpful" (1 Cor. 10:23, ESV). Pastors study both exegesis and homiletics / rhetoric because they want to be helpful.

I guess I'm trying to pin down whether you're objecting to the effort to make every aspect of the worship service conducive to worship, or if you're disagreeing with the specific application. If a church asks the congregation not to bring their McDonald's meal into the auditorium and eat during the service because it's not conducive to worship, is that legalism?

I consider it legalism because Challies is adding a prescriptive imperative that you must follow if you want to be considered a good shepherd of your people. It's like saying, "While it's not objectively wrong to buy meat sold in the agora, good Christians don't buy meat sold in the agora. Christians that do buy agora meat do so because they are 1) lazy, 2) practicing their old pagan habits, or 3) trying to offend other Christians. Instead of buying agora meat, Christians instead must buy their meat from other Christians." While framing this as being helpful, it is actually going beyond Scripture in proscribing buying meat sold in the agora.

My objection is more how Challies framed his concerns rather than the concern itself. As it stands, he's made his perspective an imperative to follow, not a suggestion to consider (unlike the original article).