Beginnings – Elements of Worship Series (Part 3)

How does your Worship Service begin?  Upbeat and energized music?  A personal welcome from the Pastor?  A prayer of invocation?  Announcements?

Regardless of the form that the first element of your service takes, it must be purposeful.  Although there are many techniques for gaining the attention of a crowd, or drawing them into the moment, it is vital that the purpose be biblical – just as every aspect of our worship should be.

For example, a pastor or worship leader may desire for the congregation to be engaged at the beginning of the service, so the expectation is put forward that the music must have “energy” and, by implication, not be slow.  However, it does not seem to me that Scripture places “energy” in the mix of purpose statements for worship.  We might suggest that joy or praise be a substitute word to use, but I can think of plenty of examples in which joy and praise can be accomplished with slow, soft music (or even silence).

What about the personal welcome from the Pastor?  If we have a specific purpose for this at the start of the service, it is certainly appropriate.  However, it may be that the pastor should express greetings to the congregation at some other time during the service – and that should be purposeful as well.

Scripture has plenty of ideas about the beginning of worship.  Colossians 3:16 notes that teaching and admonishing others are appropriate activities in worship.  Can we start there?  Nehemiah and Ezra begin an extended time of worship with reading of Scripture (Nehemiah 8).  Can we start there?  In Psalm 62, David begins worship in silence.  Can we start there?  On the other hand, David also was very loud in some settings of worship (1 Chronicles 16).  Can we start there?

Can we start there?  The answer is, “Yes.”  As we think about the overall theme for the service as a whole, the purpose for the beginning of the service must support that main theme.  Scripture shows us that a variety of elements can be used, depending on the focus for that service.

As we continue our evaluation of these elements of worship from week to week, you will notice a recurring point being made.  That is, someone must think about these things and be purposeful about what is happening and why.  How we start the service is no exception.


For more of Mark’s writing, see his book list at


Posted on January 26, 2015, in Christian Worldview, Content of Worship, Corporate Worship, Leadership, theology, Worship Leader and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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