What are the ways Christians worship? Christians worship in collective, personal, and private ways. Some denominations make use of rituals, symbolism, sacred objects, and liturgy. Other denominations are non-liturgical and take a different approach to their worship. Various types of worship may include music, dance, study, prayer, art, and service.
PERSONAL AND PRIVATE WORSHIP
Christianity started and was intended to be a very personal connection to God. It didn’t start with distance in the way most religions do. Rather, it focused on serving a God who came in love and humility and walked in the flesh. Followers of Christ were falsely accused of being atheists because of how distinct their religion was relative to the society in which they lived.
The earliest Christians were those who lived with Jesus Himself and had seen much of His ministration. Later, because of the eyewitness accounts from the disciples and apostles, the Church expanded, and the revolution began.
Before Jesus died on the cross, he prayed for the unity of the disciples with God the Father and Himself. John 17:20-21 illustrates this when he states, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
Jesus and the Father have desired oneness and unity. Jesus came to close the gap between God and man; Because of Jesus, Christians can confidently approach their Savior and God in communion. As we see in Hebrews 4:16, believers are told, “Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Therefore, a large part of Christian faith and worship is personal. Jesus Himself worshipped privately. We see the various aspects of the Scriptures that display this private and personal worship. Many, if not most, of these types of worship, still exist today.
Prayer has been a general form of worship and connection with God for thousands of years. In the nation of Israel, prayer often occurred from faithful followers. Moses consistently interceded before the Lord on behalf of the Israelites.
Jesus frequently prayed, as shown in Luke 6:12. Jesus’ close follower described Him doing the following: “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Moreover, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 declares, “Pray without ceasing.”
Prayer has several facets and can be used for a variety of purposes. These can include adoration, praise, worship, thanksgiving, petition, confession of sin, and intercession. Jesus explained in John 14:12-14, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
Jesus has made it clear that He desires His followers to pray so that He may work and glorify the Father. Worship by prayer is not simply through reverence and the proclamation of the glory of God. It goes even deeper when we pray for others and how we allow prayer to affect our lives to mirror Christ’s actions.
The Book of Psalms talks extensively about prayer and the connection to God. It deals with Christian meditation, which is much different from meditation by other Eastern religions. Psalm 1:1-2 states, “Blessed is the one… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.”
Christian meditation centers on the Word of the Lord found in the Bible. It is a contemplation of the Scriptures to memorize and apply it. Christian meditation is different from other practices because the aim is not to clear the mind completely. Instead, the aim is to fill the mind with the law, character, will, and the way of the Lord.
Meditation of this sort will honor the Lord as it leads to the awareness of God’s power and glory, resulting in reverence, worship, and praise. It also leads to a higher level of obedience. Individuals who memorize the scripture have a faster response in time of temptations, trials, and questions from others.
Romans 12:2 provide an order that applies to this. It says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Singing and playing musical instruments to God has been an element of worship. Psalm 57:7 says, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” Personal and private worship can include worship songs or playing of musical instruments for worship.
Worship music can be played from a device used to guide an individual in his or her worship. Musical worship does not have to be fancy or complex. It may be simple or well-rehearsed; It can be skillful or amateur. The stance of the heart is the importance of musical worship.
Although Christian faith allows for a strong personal relationship with God Himself, it doesn’t ignore other believers’ unity. As we saw in Jesus’ prayer to the Lord, his desire was not merely for unity between man and God. His passionate desire prompted fellow believers to connect in the same way that He and God connected.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says confidently, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
When believers gather together, they worship and glorify God, strengthening one another in the way of the Lord. Therefore, the Lord’s work spreads more rapidly when many believers are working towards the same cause. Christians are called to carry the burdens of each other and to keep each other accountable.
TYPES OF PUBLIC WORSHIP
Public worship includes the assembly of a congregation, which is a local entity of believers. This can include prayer, reading of the Scriptures, words of exhortation, songs, the use of spiritual gifts, and sermons. 1 Corinthians 14:26 gives proof of this: “How is it then, brethren? When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.”
Also, it can involve financial support and collective work for the good of others. James 1:27 states, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” The early Church helped other churches, missionaries, and those in need within the denominations.
The Roman Catholic Church follows a special order of service. This form of order and tradition occurs during the entire service, with various prompts on different occasions. Catholics are required to go for Mass every Sunday, which focuses on the Last Supper. This attendance is recognized as an offering.
Mass includes liturgy of the Word and the liturgy of the Eucharist. These liturgies guide people through the agony of sin, the reading of the Bible, the sermons, and the recited creeds. The Church takes the consecrated bread and wine that is offered to God.
Various repetitive prayers are recited during service and personal worship, such as the Lord’s Prayer, and Hail Mary. Other elements include the hymns, layman’s Missal, an altar, crucifix, sanctuary lamps, the statues of Mary or other saints, and the Rosary.
The Anglican Church practices a liturgy contained in the Book of Common Prayer. This public worship happens in the form of praise through Bible reading, preaching, prayer, and music. The denomination also practises Holy Communion. These services can reflect in their grandiose those of the Roman Catholic Mass. They can also be more informal and simple.
A prayer book is used throughout the service for recitation and response to the priest’s leading. The Scriptures are also read together, accompanied by an application for the current time. There is also an altar, a pulpit, a lectern, and a lay reader. Hymns are sung, organ and the choir lead the singing, and stained glass windows show Bible accounts. The services are generally ended with solemn reflection and silence.
The Divine Liturgy is the main service of the Orthodox Church. This is a time when people take bread and wine to remember the Lord’s Supper. The Proskomeida is the offering given as the wine and bread are prepared. Then, Liturgy of the Catechumens follows, which refers to God through His Word in the Bible. Finally, there is the Liturgy of the Faithful, which focuses on the Eucharist.
The Orthodox Church chants and lights candles as a visible symbol of their prayers to Heaven, and burn incense. There is a separation between the icons of Jesus and saints that separates the common people from the sanctuary and the altar. Only the priests are permitted to cross the divide. Orthodox Christians, through the icon, pray to God. Lastly, through petitioning to the saints, believers offer their prayers to God. With the hope that the saints will intercede on their behalf.
Non-liturgical worship does not require a specific order of service or activities; No set order is laid out either in tradition or in a book. The service order can be updated and modified at any time. Some non-liturgical denominations of worship also have a basic service sequence. For example, in many denominations, service starts with worship, greeting, prayer, and sermons. At times, the service ends with additional prayer.
Despite this common arrangement, exceptions are also made to baptism, communion, holidays, and special services. At times, full service is devoted exclusively to vocal and musical worship. Other services have various purposes, such as prayer, encouragement, guest speakers, and the sending of missionaries or those going into ministry.
The greatest difference between liturgical and non-liturgical worship is that liturgical worship has specific features, objects, requirements, and timely rotation of types of services. Non-liturgical services maintain a specific order, but it isn’t as strict or reliant on other objects.
The Quaker denomination may have one of the most anti-liturgical methods of worship. Quaker services are typically in a quiet room that is simple and plain with little or no decoration. There’s no stage or platform there. Instead, the chairs are shaped either in a square or in a circle. The services are structured at times.
Most often, the services are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. They are based on waiting, silence, and listening to the Lord. Meetings focus on the truth and love from God alone. Believers collectively assemble to experience the Lord individually. The inspiration from God leads to every service.
Quakers are not specific about who can attend their services; they welcome anyone. Also, Quakers do not have a priest or a minister because they believe that all adherents are entitled to hearing and receiving God’s spirit and presence. The believers can read the scriptures, speak, or pray to deepen the worship.
The denomination of the Baptist may vary from one local Church to another. Unlike ritualistic denominations, no high authorities are commanding the people how to worship. Rather, all decisions are taken by the local Church and its members. Baptists believe in praise, worship, and prayer. Worship involves reading the Bible, preaching, discussion, and songs, including hymns.
Also, the Lord’s Supper is celebrated every month. The baptismal services are also a highlight of this denomination. Children’s ministrations can include dance, drama, stories, and multimedia. There are ordained priests within the Baptist Church, but the emphasis is on the Priesthood of the Believers. This grants all Christians the right to read the Bible and to minister to others. The minister is just another member of the Church with a different responsibility.
Baptist services are arranged for believers and non-believers. Services are used to strengthen the member within the congregation. They are also available to non-believers to share the Gospel with others who do not have faith in Jesus Christ.
Evangelical worship is not limited to one religion. It can include approximately 40 different denominations. The determining factor that the Church considers to be evangelical is the belief in certain points. It includes the idea of “born again,” baptism and witnessing the Gospel to the unbelievers. Evangelicals also believe that the Bible and the Word of God are infallible.
Also, the Evangelicals strongly believe in the cross of Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, those who put their faith and trust in Jesus will inherit the free gift of eternal life. Services are led by pastors and worship leaders which include music, sermons, prayers that are either loud or private and the closing blessing.
Communion is also celebrated to remember the sacrifice of Christ. The format of the service can take any form, and it depends on the local Church. Apart from communion, there are no ritual objects or sacraments.
DISCERNING WHAT WORSHIP IS BIBLICAL
Like I said before, not all rituals, liturgies, or forms of worship are bad. Many of them help us connect with God. Others, however, can deceive believers. It can also confuse non-believers and discourage them from joining the faith. Therefore, it is important for our individual growth, as well as for those around us that we have a strong foundation in the biblical ideals of worship.
By looking at the Scriptures, we can have a better basis for discernment. The goal is to learn to search the scripture and discern for yourself the rest of the traditions, rituals, and expressions and that you help others do the same.
There are different types of Christian worship. They differ based on individuals, local churches, and circumstances. Church divisions that result in additional denominations also lead to new types of worship. At times these are positive changes. Other times, they are negative.
Also, the expressions of worship are only as good as the heart behind them. Lofty expressions are useless if they are not genuine. Christians have to search their hearts concerning the types of worship that they support and engage in.