of fundamental Baptist church services is that there is a rutted sameness to the services. With some there is no difference between morning and evening services. With others the morning service pattern never varies and still others have a repeated deadness about the evening service. In some churches, Wednesday evening becomes another preaching service repeating the Sunday services.
III. Services of the Church --- Introduction
What we are summarily saying is that there not only does not have to be a monotony about the services but that a variety of presentation can be used to great advantage under the impulse of the Spirit of God. The New Testament does not detail for us the exact nature of the early church services let alone specify any required specified details or order. We know there was prayer (Acts 2: 42); there was worship and praise (Acts 2: 47), there was singing (Col. 3: 16); there was preaching (Acts 20: 7) and there was teaching (Col. 3 16). We assume quite logically that preaching was the focal point of most services, though undoubtedly teaching was an important factor in many of them. We will consider the factor of variety more when we come to deal with the individual services.
but that the main thrust of our services ought to be in an evangelistic direction. This probably could not be substantiated from Scripture, as we have previously mentioned for the New Testament does not specify either contents or order. Thus we believe there is allowable latitude as far as the Bible is concerned. However, because the first duty of churches is the work of discipling or making converts for Christ it seems evident that the first emphasis of church services where the overt invitation goes out for all people to attend, there should be the evangelizing of those unbelievers who do attend.
All of this presupposes that the church has a calling program and a publicity outreach which does continuously bring unsaved people into the services.
On the other hand, because nowhere in the New Testament are non-Christians admonished of any obligation to attend Christian church meetings, we must also be aware that the instruction and exhortation to Christians is of prime importance in local church services. Consequently, church services should provide in any given week spiritual exhortation and food for both the believer and unbeliever.
Many shy away from using the terminology of a worship service because it speaks to them of Priestcraft which dominated Christianity for so many centuries and was a carryover from the priestly system of Old Testament Judaism.
C. Main Church Services -- Introductory Remarks
The reaction of many Bible believing Christians is that the truth of the priesthood of believers nullifies any form of united worship because each can go directly to God himself.
This I believe is an extreme reaction. God has never cancelled man's obligation to worship Him. (John 4) Essentially the reason for early Christians meeting together was to worship God (praise, prayer, song, exhortation)
Today in many fundamental circles the irreverence of Christians in services is inexcusable. They react to the priesthood error by allowing the pendulum to swing too far to the right where the unapproachable God who is infinite in holiness and power is conceived of as a chummy little buddy who is eager and grateful for the opportunity to ratify each little whim we voice.
of thought at this point among fundamental Baptist churches.
1. Morning Service.
a. There is considerable division
so as to establish an atmosphere of worship to God.
b. Some like a measure of formality
in the Bible and was practiced by early Christians there can be no question. (Jn. 4:24, Rev. 22:8)
(1) That worship is commanded
are crudely informal and guilty of noisesome confusion in services is also undeniable.
(2) That some Baptist churches
in the morning worship service of Baptist churches are a weakened form of liturgy and litany practiced by churches coming out of the Reformation who in turn presented a modified form derived from Roman Catholicism minus the Mass but with great emphasis on liturgical forms, symbols and expressions.
in independent Baptist churches away from anything that might be designated formalism towards a more informal atmosphere calculated to encourage envangelism.
(4) There is at present a trend
the above trend is good with certain cautions noted below. There is no reason we can see why the GLORA PATRI needs to come at the beginning of each morning service or the Doxology just before the offering or the Lord's Prayer uttered in unison.
(5) On the whole, we believe
an informal morning service we do so with some cautions noted.
c. Informal Preference-in advocating
in most Baptist churches just before the morning service is totally unnecessary. The congregational meeting house is not the New Testament counterpart of the Old Testament Jerusalem Temple and the presence of the Shekinah. Nevertheless, we believe that it degrades the character of God for Christians to meet in His name and about the preaching of His Word in an irreverent spirit or at least in an atmosphere of people seemingly so noisily absorbed in their own buzzing concerning mundane interests that they are not preparing their hearts by prayer so that the Holy Spirit can work in a marked way. Something is wrong if we treat seeking the awareness of God so loosely. It would be very difficult to find Scripture justifying the all too common irreverence that pervades many Baptist churches as the congregation anticipates seeking the face of the sovereign, holy God of this universe.
(1) We believe the noise and disorder
that any disturbances during the church services are entirely uncalled for and should not be tolerated. Any pastor when he goes to a new pastorale should kindly state and write his policy concerning this to the church membership so that there is no question. Then with the cooperation of Ushers and Deacons he should see from the outset that this is strictly adhered to. This will include noise from babies, little children, and young people. Any cases of adults should meet with church discipline. This latter will be rare.
also is a factor relative to the formality or informality of the morning service. Again it seems that an evangelistic thrust on Sunday morning cannot be built on "worship" hymns, especially sung at a snail's pace used in most church services. However, we decry the fact that many Baptist churches today omit the great old hymns which teach a great deal of good Biblical theology and do in a manner of great expressive poetry. This is in contrast to a lot of modern day, watered down ditties that are theologically errant or anemic and which pass for Gospel songs.
(3) The selection of songs
We would suggest that the wise pastor might well have one good solid stately old hymn in the forepart of the morning service sung at a lively tempo. Examples would be "All Hail the Power," "There Is a Fountain, " "O For a Thousand Tongues," "Amazing Grace," "Love Divine." Others can effectively be worked in as solos or ensemble numbers from time to time. In the body of the service and the concluding song we feel that good wholesome Gospel songs express best the spirit of evangelism and tend to create the necessary atmosphere for people to respond both in spirit and overtly to the preacher's message.
from the point of view of lack of time for congregational singing in the morning and from that of service variety it is not necessary for the song leader to wave his arms throughout the hym. He might do well to establish the tempo with hand or voice as the song begins but does not need to continue it.
(4) We would also suggest both
The average pastor, in a smaller church where there is no special song leader, if he has a good singing voice, can immediately at the outset of the song establish the tempo. He can be certain that the accompanists are aware of this so that they follow his lead. Not a few churches are plagued with accompanists who set their own tempo and often make it that of a funeral dirge. There is nothing sacred about a slow song tempo. On the other hand to sing so fast that the old ladies of the church choke trying to get a breath between phrases is not Divinely ordered either. A good moderate but lively tempo is best.
of choir robes and say that these bespeak formality. Perhaps in some localities they do, and if so should not be worn. However, this is not true everywhere and we fail to see how choir robes perse can be charged with a sin against the Spirit. In fact, many non-robed church choirs face the embarrassing situation of both inadequate knee coverage and gaudy styling which to our thinking is much more distracting than uniform robing, if not dishonoring to the Spirit of God. Perhaps pastors would rather face those nerve racking, spiritual draining problems of fussing with women over dress standards which have many facets of length, style and color.
in advocating an informal type of morning service in contrast to a service of semi-liturgy is as previously indicated, a need for an evangelistic atmosphere which liturgy kills. Perhaps fifty years ago and more it was to the informal evening service which unsaved people came and so a pattern was engrained of having the Evening Evangelistic Service. This pattern has been changed for years and churches have been ridiculously slow to "wake up and smell the coffee." In most fundamental Baptist churches the average unsaved person who attends comes Sunday morning to salve his conscience enough to spend the rest of the day in peace. The nominal church members come Sunday morning to salve his conscience enough to spend the rest of the day in peace. The nominal church members come Sunday morning for a little devotional ditty in a ''worshipful atmosphere" so they will not feel obligated to come out Sunday night.
(6) Now our primary concern
Brother, if anytime the heavy artillery needs to be fired, it is on Sunday morning. Bring the big 16" guns into position on Sunday morning and blast away; that is, if your own heart is right before God, otherwise you should keep your mouth shut.
We are somewhat disturbed in learning of some fundamental Baptist churches that have gone to a combined morning service including the Sunday school and preaching service into one and shortening the elapsed time to an hour and one half. The pragmatic reason given is that so many children come from such great distances or the great fleet of buses that many have to leave early in the morning and do not get home until so late afternoon that it creates serious family problems.
First of all, we might say that a combined service idea is not new and is not to be condemend for novelty sake. That which we question is the shortening of the time a child or an individual for that matter is under the hearing of the Gospel.
This we do not feel is warranted. If the distance time factor exists would this not possibly be an indication that the church and pastor should rethink the practical and more Scriptural application of New Testament ecclesiology and organize a New Testament church in that "far away" locality.
We are not against the idea of a huge church. It is quite indisputable that God in this last decade or two has raised up many large fundamental Baptist churches that have had an unique influence for good on the cause of Christ. According to historical testimony the apostolic age saw the development of large churches at a number of metropolitan centers. It is also true that surrounding areas were honey-combed with smaller churches.
What we should like to suggest is that if a church's outreach becomes so great in distance that time wise they find it necessary to curtail the quantity if not the quality of their ministry, would not there be real merit in thinking in terms of establishing a series of peripherally located churches each with the same type of vigorous evangelistic outreach that the mother church had and quite likely thus to be so situated to do a more locally exhaustive work than the huge "far away" church? Is this not at least reasonable if not Scriptural? If we are truly interested in the greatest, most effective extension of the cause of Christ rather than simply a feeling of pride of size- if it comes to the question of the two- let it be tangibly expressed not simply rotely affirmed.
To sum this matter up, we state what is needed today is not less time for instruction in the Word of God, but more! To have children or any people involved two hours and one half on Sunday morning with the things of God when the world's philosophy occupies their attention all the rest of the week seems rather negligible let alone reduce that to one hour and one half. Such reduction, on the surface at least, savors of expediency not serious spiritual realism.
There is no excuse for either morning or evening services not starting promptly according to the listed times. Some churches and pastors think it is a mark of liberality to late comers to start a few minutes late. It is not! It is a mark of slip shoddiness that carries over into every part of the church's program and orderly people feel that lateness is an encroachment on their time. Make it a practice without fail from the beginning of each pastorale that you will be on the platform ready to go at least one full minute before starting time. This means that choir assembling and any other mobilizing behind scenes must be completed at least three minutes before the scheduled service starting time.
is the time for concluding the morning service. We would suggest at the outset that with the Sunday School beginning at 9:30 A. M., and the strange idea of an opening Sunday School departmental ''devotional" conducted by the superintendent dropped, there could be almost 40 minutes utilized for the Bible lesson. Thus Sunday School could be ended by 10:15 and the church service start at 10:30. This would mean that not only could the church service easily be out by 12 noon, but that also the preacher would have plenty of time for including a 35 minute message plus an unhurried invitation.
(2) A very ticklish question
Should a morning service, except when the Lord's Supper is observed, ever go over 12 noon? In some churches to do so would be the cardinal sin of the pastor in the eyes of the people and woe unto the pastor if he is imprudent in this!
And in many cases perhaps the people are right in this. "The mmd can only absorb as much as the seat can endure." There seems to be a physiological correlation, however, so that when the mind and spirit are greatly engrossed in learning and observing that the body does not tire or at least the senses do not report tiredness to the brain. It may be that extra amounts of adrenalin are shot through the body to keep one alert and to resist fatigue. Thus if a sermon does not thoroughly captivate the mind and spirit 30 minutes is all that Gospel preachers should preach and after that time he is subtracting from any effectiveness previously made. On the other hand, if a preacher can keep his audience spell bound "eating out of his hand" for an hour then he should get twice as much across each time he preaches. Most preachers can't and should shut up after 30-35 minutes.
There is another factor to be considered. Regardless of the length of the sermon, if it is evident that the Spirit of God is working and souls are responding to the invitation and people are making decisions, walking the aisles and getting right with God, enough adrenalin will go into the blood stream to hold people's interest so that they will not mind a service getting out at a time later than noon. In fact, with a great calling program and a church growing steadily there will be no problem with decisions made every Sunday, concerning a service lasting on toward 12:30 or 1 o'clock. However, don't try to do this if the Spirit of God is not in it, or you will be sitting on your posterior on the sidewalk in short order looking back inside.
from representative fundamental Baptist churches of all sized which detail their service order and study them carefully. Keep these on file and add to them so you can be aware of ideas of variety.
f. Variety in the Morning Service.
(1) Collect at least 25 bulletins
that each Sunday morning the order of service be so different from the preceding Sunday that the people are continually kept in a state of suspense or bewilderment as to what next to expect.
(2) We are not suggesting
a little variety can be inserted and the usual pre-preaching part of the service altered with good effect. No one has been able yet to explain to me why the "commercial" (announcements) automatically are supposed to come for seven minutes just before the offering. Such a rigid pattern is highly susceptible to the charge of formalism.
(3) However, every so often
there are in addition to preaching three main elements in the morning service; song, prayer, and Scripture reading, we belive that there can be both a variety of order in these as well as in approach and content to keep the morning service format alive with a keen spiritual interest.
how uninterestingly if not poorly most pastors read Scripture. There is no excuse for this.
g. Scripture Reading in the Morning Service
(1) It is a shame if not a tragedy
the Scripture passage in private a good number of times before they read it in public. They must be certain of the entire content for there are a few portions of Scripture that would be embarrassing to be read in public. They ought to be certain how to pronounce all the words without pausing or stumbling, even difficult Bible names and places. And most important they should know how and where to put the proper inflection so as to most vividly and forcifully convey the meaning of the passage. If the passage has drama in it, it should be read with that dramatic effect. Give the Word of God a chance to live and breathe rather than confine it to the musty tombs of antiquity.
(2) Most pastors should read
we take a rather dim view of either unison or responsive reading of Scripture in a service. People of necessity in reading in unison read in a monotone. Not only that, but all impromptu unison reading of Scripture by the congregation is ragged at its best. It usually detracts rather than brings blessing from the reading of the Word. Diverse people cannot
in impromptu reading keep exact timing with others so that there are usually seven or eight different endings of sentences in the auditorium and continually many offbeat timings during the body of the sentence when it comes to consonants and a big variety of pronunciation when it comes to the vowels.
(3) For the reasons expressed above,
Perhaps occasionally at an evening service for variety sake, one might use unison or responsive reading of Scripture, but as a steady diet, let the Pastor read it and read it well. We agree with Henry Halley of Halley's Bible Handbook of fame, a man of keen insight in this, when he says
"The Scripture Lesson, as commonly conducted, is given a very minor place, while the whole service is built around the Sermon. What a mistake! The Sermon the big thing! The Scripture Lesson very insignificant! Usually, just a few verses, read as a sort of lifeless form, in the opening part of the service, with the droning close, "May the Lord add His blessing to the reading of His Word. " The effrontery of it! Asking the Lord to bless what the preacher himself treats as being of such petty importance! So often one is tempted to think of the Church, not as God's house, but the Preacher's house .
It would be so much better, if, instead of being a brief isolated ritual, in the opening part of the service, the Scripture Lesson would be combined with the Sermon, forming the Basis, Framework, Structure, and Heart of the Sermon; with God's Word thus in the foreground, and the preacher himself, more or less, in the background.
A Responsive Reading is no adequate substitute for a Scripture Lesson. Nor is it of any great value, other than being a means of congregational participation in the service. The same Scripture could be read with far more effect by the minister.
believing Baptist churches prayer has been offered near the beginning of the service as the invocation, later the longer Pastoral prayer, then the prayer before the offering and finally the benediction or dismissal prayer.
h. Prayer in the Morning Service
(1) Traditionally in the Bible
We can see no good reason for omitting unless it is a time factor. This should be very brief and consume only a minute at the most. Asking God's blessing on the entire service right at the outset seems very logical. (An invocation should invoke. ) If one wants the longer pastoral prayer at the outset of the service and thus combine the two, we can see no Objection. Only usually this arrangement will mean the congregation standing at the close of the first hymn and thus be hard on some older folks who find it rather difficult because of infirmity to stand for any length o time.
The greatest criticism here comes because of alleged sameness from Sunday to Sunday with those who are hypercritical declaring that they can repeat from note the pastoral prayer offered every Sunday. Perhaps this is somewhat justified. Too many pastors come into the pulpit on Sunday morning and repeat the previous Sunday morning prayer with little essential alteration. Perhaps this is due to the Spirit's leading. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit may not have much material from which to choose.
What we want to say to this is two things. First, a pastor ought on Saturday or Sunday morning early spend time on his knees asking God for the content of that prayer. After all, if he is going to use five minutes of the time of every last person in that service in communicating with God, they are a very important five minutes and not a second should be squandered. While not exactly so, it is in a measure a priestly function for the pastor is leading his people into the presence and hopefully the favor with God. My, what an overwhelming responsibility!
Secondly, the substance and essence of that pastoral prayer as far as variety comes basically from two sources, Bible truth and human need. Let the pastor on Saturday night or Sunday morning early submit himself to Scripture meditation specifically to get the heartbeat of God in preparation for that prayer. Then, as well, let him on his knees muse over the current needs within his congregation as well as within the surrounding area, nation and the world and so prepare both his heart, thought, and vocabulary for the priestly ministry.
A word about the length of the prayer is important. Remember, you are not preaching. Certainly five minutes should be very adequate. Burdened and sympathetic hearts might desire to continue longer, but there are a good many people in the congregation especially young people and children who will become very bored if the prayer goes longer and perhaps a mood created that will cut off further opportunity for a hearing of the message.
It is almost unthinkable not to close a service in prayer. Though this might be considered a routine thing in most churches and it is in the way it is treated by many pastors, it should not be. There are several factors that can be profitably observed.
First of all, the closing prayer is the logical place to review again before the people the message in brief outline. This is not done by preaching in the prayer, but rather asking God the Holy Spirit to reinforce and embed those vital truths on both our thinking and our actions.
Secondly, the closing prayer ought to express some concern over those who should have, but have not responded to the closing invitation with encouragement that they might yet settle things with God. Then too, the prayer will undoubtedly have a benedictory application to God's people as they make their way homeward and to engage again living in a hostile but desperately needy world.
This should not be lengthy, 50 seconds should suffice, but it should be meaningful. The truth of responsibility of stewardship combined, twined with the truth of thanksgiving for God's bountiful provision should pervade the prayer. It should have Scripture within it and a note of triumph as well. Some pastors request one of the ushers to do so. We suggest that is fine for Sunday evening but believe the pastor should pray the Sunday morning offeratory prayer.
We cannot stress too much that short Scripture phrases should be well sprinkled throughout public prayer. It should not be, however, for the purpose of preaching while praying. This should be studiously avoided and such a phrase as, "We know Lord," not infrequently signals preaching in prayer. The Scripture used in prayer should be that which claims God's promises and thanks God for the facts of His relationship to us uttered without preaching. While there may be a fine line of distinction in prayer where supplication and praising ends and preaching begins, one needs
to be on guard for the distinction and by keeping in mind that you are leading all your people in communing with God, this will be less likely. As a young Christlan, my soul was thrilled to hear the writer of the Old Rugged Cross, Evangelist George Bannard, lead in prayer. His entire prayer was saturated with Scripture and one felt as though he were in the immediate presence of God.
(6) General Considerations
of Prayer in the Service.
have Sunday evening services presents a great opportunity for outreach to fundamental Baptist churches. It ought to be exploited to the fullest.
2. Evening Service
a. The fact that few churches
ought to be definitely different from the Morning Service. The reason is that usually human psychology responds more to a change of pace than to unvarying, monotony. This variety can be inserted in the Evening Service from several points of view. We suggest this can be done through more informality than the Morning Service; through a judicial use of more availalble time, and through imaginative and creative ideas that bring heightened interest and yet are questionably within the realm of Christian propriety as opposed to a lurid sensationalism.
b. We believe that the Evening Service
there are a tremendous number of variety possibilities.
c. Order of Evening Service -- General
would be to have the sermon at the end of the service
(2) About the only set part
include testimonies -- usually specifically directed, not general.
d. Order of Service -- Specific
Can begin with one or two Gospel songs and prayer
Can start with prayer
Can start with choir leading a simple song or chorus and the audience invited to participate on second time over
Can start with vocal or instrumental ensemble
Can begin with missionary colored slides
Can start with brief Scripture
(2) Other options:
Rural areas may find that 7:30 P.M. is an essential. Most strictly urban areas have gone to 7 P. M. and some as early as 6:30 and 6:00 P.M. with yough activities afterward.
Extensive variety of music.
Occasional request congregational song numbers (favorites)
Youth participation in Scripture, prayer, ushering, testimonies,
Specia1 theme nights and "honor" nights.
Guest talent from Christian Baptist schools, etc., outside the city.
Special Sunday School programs
Youth dramatic presentation
Guest preachers and missionaries
(3) Keep content and order varied.
(4) Never omit having at least a brief message from the Word and an invitation to close the service.
(5) Special features might include baptism or communion.
(e) Time of Evening Service.
(1) Length - An hour and one half should be maximum.
(2) Message normally should not be over 35 minutes.
(3) Starting time -
Some criticize the early time as just providing opportunity for people to go home and view television. Possibly, but on the otherhand, when a 7:30 service lasts until 9 P.M., most people are not home till after 9:30 and the children are not in bed until after 10 P.M. and possibly not sleeping until 10:30 P.M. This is too late for young school children. Thus it is no wonder that some fringe families do not attend the evening service. If an earlier hour is more attractive to fringe families and unsaved people, why not use it, as the Apostle Paul said, "I caught you with guile. "
Some churches are holding strictly to a one hour evening service and finding that when there is careful planning and the time is packed with rapid order, a great deal can be compressed into a short time.
Some pastors feel that announcement time is when they "sell" the congregation participating in coming events. This is only partially true. It is to be recognized that a vibrant, exuberant, earnest, positive appeal can be used as a real encouragenrent for participation. However, especially if there is no variety in the appeal we question if some valuable time might be saved by not going over every announcement word for word as people can read them in the bulletin and at the evening service most have heard them once already.
When it comes to special events and special projects, then a forceful, enthusiastic, imaginative announcement ought to be made with emphasis.
We consider it under the Evening Service because traditionally at least the most emphasis upon an invitation in fundamental Baptist churches has been at the evening service.
of extending an invitation are more properly considered in the course on evangelism.
(1) The technical details
of the extending of the invitation has been when it has seemingly been extended unduly when there has been little sense of conviction. A wise preacher will recognize when the well is dry and not continue to squeak the pump handle.
(2) Perhaps the greatest criticism
7:00 P.M. unless the church is located in an agricultural area where a later time is a necessity.
3. Wednesday Prayer Service
for more than one hour length. This can be generally divided two ways; one half hour Bible service and one half hour prayer time.
at 8 P.M. the choir can rehearse for an hour and be through shortly after 9 P.M. This enables choir families to eliminate an extra evening at the church.
(3) By being out promptly
and in closing is very important. People will not usually tell you when they are irked, but it will hurt the spirit if not future attendance.
(4) Promptness in starting
churches of any size are now receiving a Wednesday offering
(1) Gospel song service - 2 numbers sufficient
(2) Opening prayer
(3) Announcements very brief
(4) Offering -
from time to time. If not from week to week, then every few months change the pattern or format.
(5) Bible study
(6) Prayer requests
(7) Prayer time
does not have to be last.
drag but rather proceed in a sharp, expeditious manner.
(3) The service should not
Some large churches may have unsaved people coming in on Wednesday but most do not. Hence the Wednesday evening meeting is primarily directed to instructing and feeding Christians.
The above is why we feel that while exhortation is not ruled out, yet the emphasis ought to be on indoctrination of Christians and teaching of the Word of God. Thus we think it well not to make Wednesday night simply a repeat performance of the Sunday preaching service. There could well be some audience response as in the usual teaching situation.
The Bible study could to in a systematic series, not with a dry, dull classroom exposure but an enthusiastic forceful and systematic presentation of Bible truth.
Wednesday Evening Prayer services are notorious for their lack of actual praying time. Why not remedy this? ! !
It ought to be a crime to have anything less than 15 minutes of actual prayer time in the adult groups. Twenty to twenty five minutes would be better.
Youth and children ought to have their separate prayer groups.
Prayer requests should be listed ahead of time by the Pastor and read off by him noting special emphases and current special objects. Then a brief time for requests from the congregation and then dividing up into groups.
Encourage wide participation by stressing brief prayers. Perhaps at times having people volunteer for certain requests. A spontaneous acappella stanza of a hymn can be started by the leader after he concludes the prayer session.
Wednesday nights once a month could find an inspirational missionary challenge substituted for the Bible study.
In publicizing the Wednesday night meeting we suggest it not be called "Prayer Meeting", for we would hope some unsaved people would come out to the Wednesday Evening Service.
When there is a possibility of unsaved people being present, an invitation should be given. When sensing that the Holy Spirit is working in Christian hearts in real conviction of sin an invitation should be given.
In metropolitan areas where there are a good many 2nd shift workers, we suggest having a Wednesday morning prayer meeting for them and for housewives who find it difficult to come out on Wednesday evening.
a great degree of informality in the morning service do so from the conviction that unsaved people are much more likely to make an open confession of faith as a response to an invitation if the service has been very informal, the idea being that complete informality serves to relax and loosen people up psychologically to the point where they are more responsive to the Holy Spirit and to openly move out to come forward and accept Christ.
D. Concluding Observations on the Church services
Informality in the Services.
In this I think there is much truth. However, at the same time we do well not to limit the Holy Spirit. Jonathan Edwards fore-service was most likely very stiff in comparison to the informal type fundamental Baptist morning service. The hymn singing, praying, Scripture reading, etc., while not liturgical was certainly stiff in comparison, and yet heaven was opened as it were. John Wesley and the early Methodists had a stiff fore-service but my; what a pouring out of God's Spirit. What made the difference? I believe it was in the Spirit-anointed preaching.
What we are saying is that the important point is Spirit-anointed preaching. If some men believe that there should be an element of worship in the morning service, let him not be despised. We agree that there is no such thing in the New Testament as a "Worship Service'', but there is much worship expressed in the N. T. and I'm certain that when Christians of the N. T. got together they worshipped God as Jesus said, "They that worship God must worship Him in Spirit and in truth." Let's agree; in this day and age, stiffness in church services is identified mostly with Modernism, Roman Catholicism, or evangelistically dead Lutheranism or Reformed churches. However, this does not mean, therefore, that we must eliminate the Scripture Reading and the Pastoral Prayer because it was custom any more than that we should omit the choir singing or the giving of announcements because they come out of custom rather than of Scriptural edict. In fact, I think there could be a much greater New Testament case made for Scripture Reading and Pastoral Prayer than for Choir numbers, giving of announcements and injection of humor.
The point of all of the above is that let every man be fully convinced in his own mind what he should do. Let's not refer to any service as a Worship Service but let's not be afraid to worship God either. The one indispensible element is the anointing of God upon our preaching.
of addressing God in prayer with the formal "Thee & Thou" of the old English or by "You" as we refer to any one in the second person of common English.
2. Mode of addressing God in public prayer.
a. Here we raise the question
prayer seemed to come quite spontaneously and while the "Thees" and "Thous" fit in without difficulty because I was daily reading the King James Bible, yet I did acquire the custom of occasionally sneaking in a "you'' in referring to God. The formalists with all their printed prayers despised this; that is, until recently. Strangely, just in very recent years contemporaneous with the issuing of the many common speech versions of the Bible - mostly from Modernistic sources they (Modernists and New Evangelicals) have done a somewhat reversal and it is very popular among them to pray to God as their little Buddy "You" this and "You" that. I cannot help but be suspicious that from them it is an espression of humanizing God and deifying man.
that while there is no greater truth of the Bible that our Saviour is a personal God who tenderly cares for His own, yet He is also the mighty Sovereign God of infinite holiness who is worshipped in abject awe by the angelic creatures in Heaven. This inexpressible God of infinite majesty is my personal Saviour but He is not my little Buddy ready to respond to my every little whim and command. We conclude that the "Thees" and "Thous" are still good praying as we come with great respect into the presence of the immutable God. On the other hand if we do with caution and limitation use "You" in addressing God, we do not cheapen our approach to God. But in this let every man do as he sincerely thinks God would have him to do.
of common sense in not having the Lord's Supper at either Sunday morning or Sunday evening services. There are always a good number of non-church members in the Sunday services.
3. Lord's Supper.
a. We can see a great deal
of policing the table, yet we ought to have a strong conviction that a person in order to partake should be saved, immersed and a member of either this Baptist church or one of like faith and practice.
the Lord's Supper on Wednesday night when almost the only ones present are individuals who fulfill those qualifications.
of the ordinances is considered in the course Special Services.