Ministry Styles 3: Determining Worship Styles by Steve Childers

September 28, 2018 — Leave a comment

Now that you are beginning to understand more deeply the culture of your community, you are ready to begin defining your ministry styles for the primary Biblical purposes. Before you begin this process, two words of encouragement:

  1. First, learn how to go where the Wind is already blowing.
    A significant resource for helping church leaders develop culturally relevant ministry styles can often be found in the ministry styles of other churches presently having effective gospel ministries in your community. If there is an existing healthy church that is using ministry styles that God is truly blessing in a similar cultural context to you, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Instead, humble yourself and learn about those styles from others. You should consider using them if they truly reflect your own philosophy of ministry.
  2. A second word of encouragement is to define your ministry styles in line with the ministry purposes.
    As we learned earlier in this series, the primary ministry purposes should be seen as vital signs of a healthy church. When one or more of these purposes are neglected, the church will inevitably become unhealthy. When all of these purposes are given appropriate emphasis in the ministry of a new church, that church will normally grow and transform lives and communities. Therefore, it’s very important for you to define your ministry styles for each of the primary ministry purposes.

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Thinking through effective and faithful ministry styles means walking through each of the biblical purposes individually. Let’s begin with worship styles. In determining your worship styles you need to select a biblically-based, culturally appropriate set of worship emphases, elements and models for your church.

What are our Worship Emphases?

Certain style emphases on a cultural continuum are more effective in reaching some ministry focused groups. These emphases often change as the culture changes. For instance, worship emphases that at one time were considered contemporary can become traditional. Terminology often used to describe these continuums include formal or informal, traditional to contemporary, ancient, future, high liturgy, low liturgy, imminence, transcendence and blended styles.

You should know which worship style emphases on a cultural continuum are most effective in reaching your ministry focused group.

What are our Worship Elements?

There are a number of different factors to consider in developing a worship style such as the time of worship.

  • Are you theologically committed to Sunday morning worship, or would another time or even another day be faithful and appropriate?
  • Then there’s the place of worship. Do you have access to a building, or would it be more effective to meet in homes?
  • Then there is the length of worship. How long should it be?
  • How long should the preaching be in worship?
  • Who should be the leader of worship?
  • What are the number of hymns, and songs and prayers?
  • What are the appropriate kinds of words to use in them?
  • If you use instruments, what will you use? How many will you use? What kind?
  • How will the structure of your worship service be formed? Will you have confessions? Where will preaching fit, at the beginning or the end?
  • Will you have baptisms? How will you do the Lord’s supper? Who will serve the Lord’s supper? What kind of bread will you use? Will you use wine or grape juice?
  • Who will you baptize? How will you baptize? When in the worship service will the baptism take place?
  • Will you take up an offering? Where will there be a place for membership vows, or covenants or oaths to be made?
  • Will you have benedictions? Will you have an assurance of pardon?
  • Will there be solos, ensembles, choirs, the use of drama? Will you include audio or video or media in your worship?
  • Regarding body postures in worship, will there be lifting of hands? Will there be kneeling? Will there be clapping or dancing?
  • In terms of aesthetics, what will the lighting be? Will there be air conditioning, or fragrance? What kind of seating and seats?

The question isn’t whether you’ll answer these questions. Everyone answers these questions whether they realize it or not. The question is whether you will thoughtfully consider these questions in a way that fulfills the Biblical purposes and speaks powerfully and effectively to your ministry focused group.

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What are our Worship Models?

What worship model best fits your community? It could be one of the following models or a blend of any of these.

  1. LECTIONARY MODEL: The first one is called the lectionary model, which in some way follows the church calendar. The model starts with the lectionary for Sundays beginning with the first Sunday of Advent and following through the Christian year. This is the most structured and fixed form method of worship. The thrust of this approach is to retell the story of redemption both at a micro level of the liturgy as well as at the macro level of the Christian year.
  2. DIALOGICAL MODEL: The second model is called the dialogical model, the concept that God speaks and the call to worship that people respond, and they worship. God calls us to confess our sin, we confess our sin. God responds with the assurance of pardon, then God speaks through his word. We respond by feeding on him by faith and the Sacrament, or we respond in prayer. Then God speaks through the benediction and sends us out to be worshippers in all things.
  3. SEEKER MODEL: The third model is called the seeker model. This worship model has a greater sensitivity to seekers and unbelievers in the worship service. They’re not as fixed as the lectionary or the dialogic model in terms of Scripture readings and prayer. This model often follows a definite order and structure. The thrust behind this model is to capture the topical theme of the message through the creative use of art.
  4. SPONTANEOUS MODEL: The fourth model thrives on spontaneity, flow and a sense of being led by the spirit. The thrust of this model is to have an intimate encounter with God through music and in preaching, culminating in a time of ministry often involving the laying on of hands and prayer.

In this part of the series, you’re answering the very important question:

What will the Biblical purpose of worship look like in your worship styles?

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