Sunday worship

From the earliest times Christians have met together on Sunday to worship God. Sunday is the first day of the week and the day of the resurrection.

There is no audience at a service of worship, instead there is a congregation. People have all come together in order that they might share in the offering of worship to God.

The main elements in a service of worship are:

All Christian traditions believe that these elements are important. However, there is much variation between churches as to the emphasis placed on each.

There are also many different styles of worship. The main ones are as follows:

  • Formal or liturgical worship – Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland churches are most likely to use this style of worship. Services follow a clear pattern and use pre-written prayers and words contained in special books. The collective term for these prayers and instructions is the liturgy. People who worship in this way believe a set liturgy is very important, as it is based on the Bible. Also, speaking to God is not something done lightly and it should follow a proper and respectful form. Another reason for using liturgical worship is that it forms part of the tradition of the Church. Christians who use this style of worship say that just because it has a clear structure, it does not mean it has to be boring. In fact, liturgical worship can require a lot of participation as the congregation say prayers, recite creeds, stand, sit, kneel and walk to the altar rail to receive communion.
  • Structured worship – In some churches, the worship is less book-based, but there is a general routine which is led by the minister and used from week to week. This is the style of worship in many Methodist and Presbyterian churches. People in these churches believe they have flexibility in their worship. Much of the prayer is extemporaneous, which means it has not been written down in advance. There may be times when these churches use creeds or set prayers (such as the Lord’s Prayer), but this is usually in one small part of the service. Christians who prefer this style of worship believe it is orderly and respectful, but that it also provides the opportunity for variety in worship.
  • Leaderless worship – When some people meet for worship, such as the Brethren, they do not have a special person to lead the service. During the main Sunday worship, anyone who wishes to contribute can do so. Someone might say a prayer, choose a hymn or read from the Bible. This type of worship centres on the idea of the priesthood of all believers. They believe that each individual Christian can speak directly to God and that the structure of worship should be decided by the Holy Spirit rather than by a priest or minister. This style of worship is like the worship of the first Christians.
  • Pentecostal / charismatic worship – This type of worship is generally lively, with enthusiastic singing, hand-clapping, dancing, flag waving and moments of stirring emotion. Christians who attend Pentecostal churches (such as the Elim Church) or Charismatic churches (such as the Christian Fellowship Church) are most likely to worship in this way. Christians who prefer this type of service believe that worshipping God should be joyful and not lifeless, formal and dull. They believe they are following examples of worship from the Bible, such as that described in Psalms, “Praise the Lord … praise His name with dancing; play drums and harps in front of Him”.