How to Design a Weekly Worship Service for Protestant Christians

A good worship service takes thoughtful planning.
A good worship service takes thoughtful planning. | Source

Church services, whether on Sunday morning, Saturday evening or mid-week, are a vital time of fellowship and learning. And putting together all the pieces that make a successful service requires good organization and communication between ministries.

The first decisions when designing a service hinge on the type of denomination you are a part of. Mainline Protestant churches tend to be more structured, and lean toward more formal guidelines of dress and behavior. Evangelical Protestant churches make more use of contemporary music and images, placing less emphasis on strict rules.

Beyond these basic ideals, you need to decide when the service will be, and who will be the "target" of the service. Think about who makes up the congregation as it is - older, families, younger attenders, etc. Then, consider who you might like to attract into the church as well - this can effect your choice of service times, and also the tone and elements.

Every worship service consists of a series of elements. Many remain the same from week to week, but others may be utilized on particular Sundays to highlight events within or outside the church.

You'll need to have a good core of leaders who can help you find volunteers to fill each ministry slot for the service. Hopefully, each one who steps up to help will have a passion and gift for what they will be doing. Then, as it says in Romans, many parts will work together as one body!

A strong Pastor can develop an effective service.
A strong Pastor can develop an effective service. | Source

Leaders Needed For A Service

Service Leader - this person opens the service, gives announcements and keeps the flow of the elements going smoothly. Sometimes they will lead a time of prayer and the offertory.

Worship Leader - this person leads the music portion of the service, usually consisting of an opening set, an offertory piece, and possibly for communion.

Pastor/Speaker - this person prepares and delivers the sermon, and will most likely choose the scripture reading. They may deliver the Benediction, and offer up specific prayer concerns during the service.

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Worship music heightens the service experience. Scripture is at the heart of a service.Taking an offering helps the church stay healthy financially.
Worship music heightens the service experience.
Worship music heightens the service experience. | Source
Scripture is at the heart of a service.
Scripture is at the heart of a service. | Source
Taking an offering helps the church stay healthy financially.
Taking an offering helps the church stay healthy financially. | Source

Major Elements of A Worship Service

Invocation/Greeting (about 5-7 minutes)

The opening time is meant to invite the congregation into worship. This is usually done by the day's Service Leader.

Worship Music (about 15-20 minutes)

There is usually an opening set of some kind, to bring people deeper into worship. What kind of music (hymns, songs or some combination), and who will play them (a worship team or organist/pianist) will need to be agreed upon.

Scripture Reading (about 5 minutes)

Having verses read, either by a service leader or another volunteer, that correspond with the sermon theme focuses people's hearts and minds. Offering (about 10 minutes)

The taking a monetary offering is based on scripture passages that talk about "tithing", or giving a tenth of what is earned to the church. This is usually done by the ushers. Often a piece of music is played during the collection.

Prayer & Praise Time (about 5-7 minutes)

Giving church members the chance to ask for prayer or give a praise can bond the congregation together. The time allotment for this should be strictly followed, so the service doesn't run too far overtime.

Sermon/Message (about 20-40 minutes)

The main section of teaching is most often done by the church Pastor, though it can be refreshing to occasionally bring in a guest speaker. Here, a scripture passage or Biblical truth is examined and explained.

Final Music (about 3 minutes)

Doing one last song or hymn that also corresponds with the main theme punctuates the sermon.

Benediction (about 1 minute)

This final blessing encourages the congregation to go out of the church into their week with renewed purpose. The Pastor or service leader does this.

Special Elements

On certain days additional elements will be added to the basics. They can bring excitement and interest to unique days, but must be inserted carefully to protect the flow of the service. Some of them include:

  • Communion
  • Special Music
  • Missions Moment
  • Drama
  • Personal Testimonies
  • Baptism
  • Infant Dedication
  • Special Prayer concerns (missionaries, people leaving, etc.)

Worship Ideas From Amazon

Holiday and Other Special Services

A church celebrating Easter and Christmas might include extra special music like a choir or brass ensemble, or additional scripture readings to tell the story of Jesus' birth or death and resurrection, or things like lighting candles or taking communion.

Some churches even commemorate Thanksgiving: with a service and pie social, for instance. Patriotic days like July 4th and Veteran's Day, can include a salute to members in the congregation who've served in the armed forces.

To mark the "Suffering Church" awareness month in November, powerful videos or testimonies can remind us of our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters in countries where freedom of religion doesn't exist yet.

Being greeted first thing is a great introduction to church.
Being greeted first thing is a great introduction to church. | Source

"Before the Service" ministries

Bulletin Folders - During the week, the Pastor (or guest speaker) will decide what the elements will be for that Sunday's service. A bulletin template needs to be updated by the Pastor or perhaps the office assistant, then the final product must be copied, folded and put out for the greeters and ushers. This should be done by Friday.

Greeters & Ushers - Greeters are an essential part of creating an atmosphere that brings people into worship. Their job is to meet members and visitors, either in the parking lot or at the door, and welcome them into the building. They make sure that everyone has a bulletin. Ushers are important, especially when the pews start to fill or if someone needs special help getting to a seat.

Van Drivers - Every church community has people who for whatever reason can't drive themselves. Having a good team of drivers is invaluable for picking up those who wouldn't get to church otherwise.

Sunday School Teachers - Most churches offer some classes, at least for children and youth. This is a great way to offer people more learning opportunities. And most who come to Sunday School end up staying for the service. Equipping a team with training and materials helps everyone grow in knowledge.

"During the Service" Ministries

Nursery Workers - It would be hard to hold effective church services without a nursery staff to watch the younger children. Parents are always appreciative when they know their kids will be well taken care of while they have a chance to worship. The workers all need to go through Good Shepherd or a similar kind of training, for everyone's protection, especially the children's.

Prayer time should be a part of every service.
Prayer time should be a part of every service. | Source

"After the Service" Ministries

Coffee Hour Hosts - Lots of churches offer a social hour after the service ends. Many people like to have that relaxed time to connect with good friends, and to make new ones. To make it work, there should be a team that sets up beforehand, making coffee and hot water for tea, setting out some goodies to eat, and putting up tables and chairs. A group will be needed to clean up afterwards as well.

Prayer Team - When someone is hurting, confused, or simply needing some support, they can be greatly encouraged by sitting for prayer with someone. Having a roster of people who are willing to listen and pray ensures that no one needs to leave the service feeling alone.

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VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 3 years ago from United States

You have written a very good overview of how a church service works in most churches. Some of the more youthful oriented churches I've attended have longer services which usually means more music. You remind us that there are a lot of people required to make a church service run effectively.

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