Christian Protestant Worship Services

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On general Protestant* worship services
I’ve been around the block a few times so I am aware of, have attended, and have even led several styles of Christian worship-ritualistic services. The services generally have been derived from two basic groups, free-thinking and authoritarian. The free-thinking are at liberty to put on whatever type they chose and are flexible. The authoritarian are usually pre-set at the behest of some given authority and generally will be the same from place to place although some minor alterations may be allowed. The latter class can be and traditionally have been referred to as liturgical because they follow a set program of liturgy containing a set pattern of leader-community response order of worship. The free-thinking class has been customarily referred to as non-liturgical because changes occur frequently in the order of service but are in fact liturgical in the normal sense of the word. A more exhaustive analysis can be made but you get the idea.

Here is a list of general types of worship services knowing that there are mixtures:
1. High Church, strict liturgy. It is the same basic format on any given Sunday in any area of the particular church where it is an institutionalized. It will normally contain a brief sermon pre-published by the church institution by which the priest or pastor uses as the standard for the week. The scripture has been pre-selected with some commentary and the priest or pastor may add some remarks, anecdotes, etc. Traditional hymns are sung using an organ accompaniment, with choir.
2. General liturgical. The same as #1, with the pre-set scriptures as per a particular denomination or sect or as used by a number of churches. The sermon may or may not follow the scripture text but will be more or less a topical sermon depending on a pre-set theme of the week of the season. Traditional hymns are sung using an organ and/or a piano as accompaniment, maybe an extra instrument and a choir.
3. Independent liturgical. A set order of worship, the same each Sunday but the pastor chooses his own selection of scripture and sermon topic. Traditional hymn with perhaps a more modern non-tradition song, an organ and/or piano and maybe a small orchestra.
4. Modern, non-traditional service with no printed order or worship. However it is usually the same every week as to the order beginning with praise songs and modern Christian songs with a traditional hymn or two with a piano and/or an orchestra or praise band. All music is non-traditional with a small contingent of voices without choir robes. You will not see many suits and ties if at all. It is very casual and members are free to move about, may check their cell phone messages, shoot pix or videos and even carry own individual conversations.
5. Strictly non-traditional. These are the Pentecostalists and free non-Pentecostalists but with an highly emotional tone, referred to by some as holy-rollers. No set responsorials but congregation members can respond as they see fit at any time with shouts of amen, hallelujah, praise the Lord and sometimes dancing about. The preacher will preach his sermon with fervor, There may be some traditional hymns but mostly choruses and modern praise type songs. The services will be the same each week however as the congregation will be in worship mode as usual. An extended invitational period and/or altar call will end the service, sometimes with the laying on of hands and praying with individuals by the elders. Some churches will have a period of anointing with oil for the healing of the sick and the repentance of the broken hearted. Sometimes the term, revival, is used as the members are revived each week with renewed spiritual energy.
6. Military, hospital, prison, and other institutional services may include one or more of the above depending on the chaplain(s) employed to lead the services. In most cases they are shorter and more subdued depending on the institution.
7. Services for INFPs. The service I fit in and prefer. I’ll let you known when I find one.

(*non-Roman Catholic, Greek & Eastern Orthodox, etc)

© 2018. Chaplain Bob Haines

The Lord’s Day

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Sunday is Sunday, the first day of the week per the common calendar.  It is not the Sabbath.  It is not the so-called Christian Sabbath.  It is Sunday — period, end of story.  It is a day, like any other day, 24 hours long.  The sun will appear to rise and set, although, in actuality, the earth will revolve on it’s axis as it continues its orbit around the sun.

By Custom or tradition, for the Christian church, although not for all Christian churches, it is a (the) Day of Worship.  That is, it is a day, which at some point in the time continuum, it was decided by someone or some group that the church, i.e. the body (congregation) of believers would meet together on Sunday, the first day of the week, following the tradition (custom) of the first group of Christians in Jerusalem, designated in many written commentaries as the first Church or early church, namely the disciples of Jesus along with the other first believers.  They met to devote themselves to the apostle’s teaching, which i assume to mean teaching based on the teachings of Jesus.  They also met for prayer, fellowship and the breaking of bread.  I’m not going to spend time here discussing how the phrase, “breaking of bread” might be interpreted.

In the Pauline epistles, letters by Paul the Apostle to various early churches , churches which he founded during his missionary journeys, the churches (or gathered groups of Christians), throughout the early Roman empire, they became more organized and continued to meet, presumably on the first day of the week, and included the singing of hymns and spiritual songs, teaching, and preaching and whatever else they did during their meetings.

Nowhere in the New Testament is there any mention that the official day set aside to honor YahWeh (the Lord) was officially changed by God to Sunday.  In fact, and here is the kicker, for Christians, followers of Jesus of Nazareth, there are only two commandments (or divine laws).  If you don’t know what these two commandments are, look them up.

So, you, or your group, are free to choose to gather together for worship at anytime, any day, in the morning, afternoon, at dawn or dusk or during the night.  It doesn’t matter to God when, other than being a convenient time for the group to meet together.

Now, the purpose of this writing is not to discount the importance of a time set aside for worship, be it on the Sabbath, or Sunday — teaching, preaching, singing Christian-oriented music, breaking of bread, etc — nor is it to discount various practices followed by individual Christians or groups of Christians following various other teachings in the New Testament.  It is simply to provide a short to-the-point commentary concerning the facts that, (1.) the day of worship was never changed from the Sabbath to the first day of the week, and (2.) the Christian church is free to choose how it is to conduct its activities keeping in mind the two “laws” that Jesus set forth for Christians to adhere to.

Every day is the Lord’s Day.

© Copyright Feb. 2020
Robert A. Haines, Chaplain Haines