UNDERSTANDING ORDER OF CHURCH WORSHIP
The Prelude: Ten minutes before the worship begins, the Prelude should start. As the worshippers enter their seats, they should pray and meditate, preparing themselves to receive the Word of God. One shuts the worldly things out.
The Procession: This is symbolic of the approach of God’s children to His throne. The choirs march with a togetherness, in step with music. This music should be a song of jubilation and triumph, sung with great favor. The choirs do not enter the Chancel (Choir loft) until God’s blessings have been invoked by the Minister, if such has not been done in the choir room. i.e. – The Choir should Pray together before ministering to congregation!
The Call to Worship: The Call to Worship is to remind those who are assembled, that God is a spirit and must be worshipped in spirit and truth. The Minister sounds the trumpet, calling the Church into a worship session. No matter what words he or she may use, it means nothing else is at hand except the worship.
The Invocation: The first act in the worship itself is the Invocation. This is a short prayer by the Minister, while standing, invoking God’s presence and blessings upon the choirs and congregation assembled to worship. This prayer should not be a long drawn out prayer but straight to the point of invokement.
The Hymn of Praise: This is the first hymn of the worship. It expresses praise, rejoicing in gratitude. The hymn also ascribes glory and honor to His name. This should be a lively hymn with great jubilation and praise.
The Responsive Reading: The Responsive Reading gives the whole congregation an opportunity to share in the reading of the Word. It also reflects the togetherness of the congregation toward its central theme of worship, God.
The Gloria Patri: The Gloria Patri is the connecting link between the Old and New Testament Scripture. The Christian faith includes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, this makes the Christian faith, Trinitarian. It also expresses our belief in the Judeo Christian Faith. It is said or sung. It is a salute to the trinity and should never be said or sung while sitting or kneeling. The posture should be, standing, head up, eyes open, Remember it is not a prayer.
The Affirmation of Faith: This is a constructive act in rejoicing in the truth. To recite a creed is to declare a faith with boldness and conviction as a code by which to live and die. There is great value in confessing the faith that binds the worshippers to a common heritage. There are a number of creeds to recite. This is why it is necessary to name the creed to be recited. Any and every creed should be said while standing with the head up, eyes open and with conviction. Always remember, that is not a prayer.
The Scripture: The lesson from the Holy Scriptures is the sounding board of the sermon that is to be preached. It is also significant as religious meditation guiding through spiritual verities. The lesson should be carefully chosen. A reader who is absorbed in the message to the point of forgetting oneself, becomes a voice for the utterance of truth. The Bible holds the central place in Christian worship as the voice of divine revelation. It is God speaking to us, for it is the Word of God.
The Call to Prayer: This may be said by the Minister or sung by the choirs and congregation. It is intended to prepare the people for prayer. It assures the congregation of God’s willingness to hear and answer prayer.
The Pastoral Prayer: This is a prayer of intercession. It is a meeting of mutual concerns of the congregation. Extemporaneous prayers may wonder for or settle into well-worn phrases. Yet to not meet the needs of the congregation and often miss the sense of direct address of God. The Pastoral Prayer is not only a priestly privilege but it is the responsibility of the Pastor, who is more sensitive to the needs of the congregation.
The Choral Selection or Congregational Song: This is a musical outburst to express praise, rejoicing, gratitude, faith consecration, and rededication.
The Ministry of Kindness or Benevolence Offering: This is the period of worship where we practice Christianity. Remember how the Lord said it is more blessed to give than to receive. We could very well be on the receiving end. Since we are privileged to give, Christians can not help but share some of the blessings with those who are less fortunate than we. Remember how the Scriptures said also, “He who hath this world’s goods and seeth his brother hath need and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” 1 John 3:17 God will also reward the giver.
The Pastoral Observations, and Announcements: This may be done by the Pastor or his designee. They should be concise and relevant to the Christian Church or concerns that it can support. In connection with announcements, visitors should be recognized and made to feel welcome.
The Offering: Here, we can dramatize the generous impulse to give. The gift without the giver is bare. Yet, if the giver offers himself, there is encounter. Here the historic devotion of sacrifice is re-enacted. Whether it is laid in the offering plate or brought forward and laid on a table, one’s sacrificial gift should represent his best offer to God. A genuine offering has the emotional release of surrender and the votive act of dedicating one’s self as a living sacrifice. Tithing is strongly encouraged.
The Hymn of Preparation: This is a carefully chosen hymn, intended to give the congregation the final preparation to receive the message.
The Sermon: The Sermon is the central part in most protestant worship services, bringing a united search for the deeper meaning and concerns of the religious life, to declare and decide to follow this way. The Sermon expounds the Scripture that was read. All the foregoing preparations have been moving toward this point. Faith comes by hearing. How can we bear without a preacher? How can he preach unless he has been sent.
The Invitation: After the exposition of God’s Word, we “open the doors of the church” and extend the invitation to Christian Discipleship to those who would declare and decide to follow in the way. Those who accept the invitation and come forward, make an open declaration of their desire to flee from the wrath that is to come: and become a disciple under this fellowship.
The Hymn of Invitation: Is sung as an indication of our desire to be consecrated to Him.
The Closing Hymn: This is a carefully chosen hymn, expressing thanks and requesting God’s presence to be with us, that His guiding had sustain us until we come together in another corporate worship.
The Benediction: The benediction signifies an act of “at ease.” It also offers repose easily lost in closing the service. The benediction sends the worshippers forth with the guiding and sustaining presence, “even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20). Everyone is encouraged to stay until the Benediction (Blessing) is given.
The Postlude: This is the period of reflection on the worship experience. In these moments of quietness before departing, the value of the whole service may be summed up in perspective.
Our order of worship may have variations in what is done, how it is done and what position it is done. This is largely because of the degree of freedom given in the A.M.E. Zion Church. It does not matter what is done or how it is done, everyone should know its meaning and should have a reasonable understanding of Our Order of Worship.