If I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. - 1 Timothy 3:15
One of the most beautiful things to admire in this world is God's creation order. God made things to operate and work in specific ways which gives it beauty and structure. Who has not marvelled at a field of flowers all blooming upwards at a specific time in the season. I was personally amazed to see wildflower after wildflower come up all over a field at different times right through spring and summer. It was a orchestra of God's beauty and order before my eyes. But imagine those flowers, if they disobeyed God's order, all doing different things perhaps some not even being willing to blossom or do it part way. Some keeping their petals closed others facing sideways. Such would not be beauty but disorder and even at worse chaotic and disturbing.
We read in the Scriptures St. Pauls admonition to Timothy his apostle in training to put things into order which were out of order (Titus 1:5). In the Corinthian Church he shares the truth that God is not a God of disorder (1 Corinthians 14:33). Salvation has an order, God asks people to repent and then be baptized, then they receive the precious gift of His Spirit (Acts 2:42). We live our lives this way, we set routines and order to our day, weeks, years. God is the same for His Church, have you ever considered this? That God has an order, plan and desires for how the Church is to gather, worship and operate.
I was in a meeting recently where a wonderful guest speaker was ministering God's Word. It was a rich and encouraging time. At the end of the session there were questions and answers and there were a series of questions on how did he practice church in his local congregation. Everything was asked from the type of worship, to the order of service and how long the sermons were. What struck me afresh was that in a sense everyone was guessing on what was best, it was all relative to their situation or personal preferences. One answer stated there was a call to worship for a few minutes at the beginning of the service along with a scripture reading of the gospel in the midst of singing of hymns. These of course are two practices the early Church practiced and have been carried on by tradition to our day in some expressions of the Church.
God made it clear that a presbyter (pastor, priest) should guide the gathering of believers. An opening "call to worship" should be made and solemn prayer inviting God's presence called "Invocation." A "prayer of confession" made for the people of God to confess and receive forgiveness corporately. A time of "adoration" of the Godhead in worship with God-focused worship. "Scripture Readings" from each part of the Bible made. A "Profession of Faith" from a creed or Scripture recited together out-loud verbally. "Ministry from the Word" where the leader shares a teaching. The "Lord's Supper" where our Lord is exalted, remembered and reverenced. And lastly "Benediction" where God's people are blessed and sent out as salt and light to the world around them.
In short, church services had all or most of these elements early on and throughout church history. Such services where God is the audience allow the people of God to truly worship, hear His Word and focus on the Godhead. In our day of where individualism, personal interpretation and opinions are considered so valuable, we have to ask the question: God show me how you want the Church to worship and gather. God will answer such a question, His word will show it also. The Early Church will validate it. Brethren let us come and worship the Lord, "For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed" (1 Corinthians 5:7) Amen.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon