Orders of Service for “Blended Worship”

Orders of Service for “Blended Worship”

One of the most powerful and inspiring examples of congregational worship in the Bible is contained in 2 Chronicles, chapters 5 to 7.

In these chapter we read that the work for the temple had all been done, and in an amazing procession, they brought the ark of the Lord into the temple.  It was an occasion that those present would never have forgotten for the rest of their lives.  There were 120 priests sounding trumpets, cymbal, singers, and other instruments.  It must have been the best band they’d ever heard!  The trumpeters and singers joined in unison and sang, “He is good; his love endures forever.” (5:13)

It would have been an amazing sound.  And yet, that wasn’t the thing that impressed itself upon their hearts the most that day.  The life-changing event that day happened next: “… the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.” (5:14)

The priests were totally overwhelmed by the cloud of God’s presence, so much so that they couldn’t continue to perform their services.  Solomon went on to pray a powerful prayer of dedication.  But that’s not the end of this awesome encounter. Fire comes down from heaven and consumes the burnt offering and sacrifices.  The glory of the Lord fills the temple again (7:1), yet this time seemingly even more powerful, because not only can the priests not carry on ministering, they can’t even enter the temple of the Lord (7:2).  The people worshiped again, sang the song again, made more sacrifices, and the trumpets started up once more.

There’s a great contemporary song that captures this encounter called “Lord, let your Glory Fall” by Matt Redman.  It’s recalling that ancient day where God met his people so powerfully, and asking that we might see something of that here and now, as God’s people in church.  That we might know what it really is to bring meaningful sacrifices before Him, and that we might also know what it really means to be enveloped in the cloud of God’s presence.  These chapters show congregational worship as an exciting, powerful encounter.  It’s a 2-way event.  Notice the cycle that seems to happen – God’s people respond to who He is, and then the cloud of His presence comes down.  They can’t help but respond again, and He seems to inhabit their praises even more powerfully.  Again, this makes them want to worship Him even more, and they throw their hearts into yet more songs, music and sacrifices.  This is the wonderful, gracious pattern of worship that God invites us to enter into as His people.

Source: http://www.worshiptogether.com/resources/bibleStudy.aspx?iid=215760

Lord Let Your Glory Fall

Chorus:
You are good, You are good; And Your love endures.
You are good, You are good; And Your love endures today.

Verse 1:
Lord let Your glory fall, As on that ancient day.
Songs of enduring love, And then Your glory came.
And as a sign to You, That we would love the same.
Our hearts will sing that song, God let Your glory come.

Verse 2:
Voices in unison, Giving You thanks and praise.
Joined by the instruments, And then Your glory came.
Your presence like a cloud, Upon that ancient day.
The priests were overwhelmed, Because Your glory came.

Verse 3:
A sacrifice was made, And then Your fire came.
They knelt upon the ground, And with one voice they praised.

BRIDGE:
Your anger lasts a moment, But Your favor lasts a lifetime.

CCLI Song No. 2526728, © 1998 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing), Matt Redman

As in the days of King David, Solomon and Nehemiah, the order of worship is of utmost importance.  Our traditional worship services are carefully laid out in our hymnals, but this raises the question, “what order of service should we consider when using a blended format with contemporary music and contemporary instrumentation?”

Here is the typical Order of Service for the blended services that we hold on a monthly basis at Messiah in South Windsor, CT:

Pre-Service Music
Pastoral Greeting
Opening Congregational Song of Praise
Call to Worship
Spoken Confession of Sins and Assurance of Forgiveness
Silence for personal reflection
Congregational Song of Praise
Prayer of the Day
OT Lesson
Psalm of the Day (usually read responsively and sometimes includes contemporary music)
Epistle Lesson
Verse of the Day
Gospel Lesson
Children’s Message (based on one of the readings)
Hymn of the Day
Sermon
Offering (accompanied with music)
Prayer
Lord’s Prayer
Blessing
Closing Song of Praise

(The service time is approximately 60 minutes in length)

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Isaiah 6 reflects another biblical framework for corporate worship.   God initiates and we respond throughout the model.

God reveals himself:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.  (Is 6:1)

Worship & Praise responds by the Seraphim:
Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another:  “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”  (Is 6:2-3)

We confess:
“Woe to me!” I cried.  “I am ruined!  For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”   (Is 6:5)

God expiates:
Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.   With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”   (Is 6:6-7)

God Proclaims:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” (Is 6:8a)

We Respond:
And I said, “Here am I.   Send me!” (Is 6:8b)

God commissions:
“Go and tell this people”  (Is 6:9)

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.  Used by permission of International Bible Society

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Here is another blended order of service obtained from: http://blendedworshipresource.wordpress.com that is used at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in DePere, WI:

Gathering for Praise:
Opening Praise Songs (2)
Greeting

Gathering for Forgiveness:
Forgive Us, Renew Us, Lead Us
Response song

Gathering around the Word:
Scripture readings
Mission Statement
Praise song/hymn
Sermon/message
Creed

Gathering for Thanksgiving:
Offering
Prayers
Praise Song
Q & A period or The Supper

Gathering for Dismissal:
Announcements
Benediction
Closing Praise Song
(approximately 75 minutes based on the gatherings used in worship in the early church 150-300 AD)

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And here is a third order of service, used at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, also found at:

http://blendedworshipresource.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/blended-worship-liturgy/

1. Service information
a) Theme
b) Welcome and visitor information
c) Today’s worship paragraph

2. Come, Let Us Worship the Lord
a) Greetings/silent prayer
b) Opening song of praise
c) Invocation
d) Responsive reading

3. We Confess our Sins and Rejoice in God’s Forgiveness
a) Confession options
b) Response song
c) Prayer of the Day options

4. God Speaks to Us Through His Word
a) Three readings, including introductory line
b) Statement of Faith
c) Song of the Day options
d) Today’s meditation

5. We Offer to God our Thanks and Praise

a) Sermon response (if no communion)
b) Offering and friendship register paragraph
c) Lord’s Prayer

6. God Comes to us Through His Holy Supper
a) Responsive intro and song response
b) Words of institution and response
c) Distribution song
d) Thanksgiving
e) Prayer

7. God Sends Us With His Blessing
a) Responsive theme closing
b) Benediction
c) Closing song

(from “Blended Worship: Where Do We Start?” by Pastor Rob Raasch.)

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And finally, here are two orders of service recently used at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Middleton / Waunakee , WI

Example 1 (with Communion)

 Gathering
Pre-service music (piano)
Pastoral greeting
Congregational song of praise
Pastoral prayer of confession
Silence for personal prayers of repentance
Spoken assurance of forgiveness
Congregational song of response/praise (additional stanzas/refrains of opening song)
Time for worshipers to greet each other

Word
Old Testament reading
Gospel reading
New Testament reading
Children’s devotion (based on sermon text/theme)
Sermon
Nicene Creed

Sacrament
Spoken sursum corda (“The Lord be with you…”)
Sanctus song of praise (“Holy, holy holy…”)
Words of Institution
Words of Invitation
Agnus Dei song (“Lamb of God, you take away…”)
Distribution of the Lord’s Supper
Two congregational songs during distribution

Thanksgiving
Offering
Prayers of God’s people
The Lord’s Prayer

Sending
The Lord’s Blessing
Congregational sending song
Announcements
Time for greeting each other

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Example 2 (includes the WELS Connection Video)

 Gathering
Pre-service music (woodwind ensemble, piano)
Pastoral greeting
Opening congregational medley of praise
Pastor prayer of confession
Congregational song of confession
Silence for personal prayers of repentance
Spoken assurance of forgiveness
Congregational medley of response/praise

Word
Gospel reading
Children’s devotion (based on Gospel reading)
Congregational “sermon hymn”
Sermon

Thanksgiving
Offering (with WELS Connection video)
Prayers of God’s people
The Lord’s Prayer

Sending
The Lord’s Blessing
Congregational sending song
Announcements
Time to greet each other

I would like to thank Kristen Koepsell of St. Andrew’s, John Kehl and Pastor Robert Raasch of Mt. Olive, and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church for providing their orders of blended worship.

It’s very interesting to me that these are all similar and keep many of the elements that are contained in our “traditional” service even though they use contemporary music.

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2 thoughts on “Orders of Service for “Blended Worship””

  1. Hello Steve,

    I hope you won’t mind a few constructive comments.

    I’m concerned about the theology assumed in the following statements:

    “Notice the cycle that seems to happen – God’s people respond to who He is, and then the cloud of His presence comes down. They can’t help but respond again, and He seems to inhabit their praises even more powerfully. Again, this makes them want to worship Him even more, and they throw their hearts into yet more songs, music and sacrifices. This is the wonderful, gracious pattern of worship that God invites us to enter into as His people.”

    There is a sense of dialogue in worship. Lutherans have historically used the “sacramental-sacrificial” dichotomy to express this dialogue: God communicates his grace to us in absolution, in the Word, and in the Lord’s Supper; we respond in gratitude for his grace. However, as I read the above-quoted statement, it sounds as if the primary or initiating action comes from the people. Then God responds to the assembly’s praises — and in a way that is geared to evoke more praise from the assembly.

    The KJV’s translation of Psalm 22:3 has been cited by some as evidence: “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” But God does not come among us because we praise him; rather, he and his grace for us are the content of our praise. “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel” (NIV). Without understanding this distinction, one may inadvertently turn our praises into a means of grace. Since this assumption is prominent in American Evangelicalism, it is very easy for Lutherans also to fall into that kind of thinking, albeit unintentionally. Even the term “worship” to describe what we do when we gather as a congregation can mislead us, for far more important than our worship is God’s service to us in the gospel. God comes among human beings through the gospel in Word and sacraments. Even after we are converted, he always comes to us through these means of grace. Our prayers and praises do not bring him among us or strengthen our faith; only his Word and sacraments do that.

    One other minor point is simply a fact-check. One of the service outlines listed above mentions that the service outline is based on five particular patterns followed by the early church in worship. The first time I heard that claim, it was attributed to Robert Webber. In my contact with Webber’s resources, he speaks more about a historic four-fold pattern to worship: Gathering, Word, Table, Sending. Both the WELS Q&A website and the worship scholars I’ve been fortunate to study with at Santa Clara University (to whom I addressed this question) have indicated that there was no such five-fold worship pattern in the early church. I am not necessarily saying the suggested form is bad, only that it may not be as historically based as indicated above.

    I hope all these ramblings are helpful. Thank you for your time.

    Pax,
    Pr. Johnold Strey
    Gloria Dei Lutheran Church; Belmont, CA

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    1. Pastor Strey,
      You’re comments are always welcome here. Thanks for reading and taking the time to clear something up.
      Steve

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