Worship Renewal: Key 6 of 6

     Most Pentecostals are of the Free Church tradition.  This means that we do not follow a liturgical calendar calling for certain scriptures and themes on certain days.  Our worship leaders are free to select scriptures and themes each week as they feel led to do.  The Lord has a ready pipeline for issuing truth to us as we worship.  The great challenge is to make sure that we don't leave out large sections of the Bible and much of the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles because we seldom feel particularly drawn to those passages and themes.

      We expect the pastor/preacher to have a fresh word from the Lord each time he or she enters the pulpit.  Likewise, the worship leader needs to find the mind of the Lord for each time of worship that he or she leads.  We need to present and celebrate the particular truth the Spirit wants for each service.  The mind of Christ is ours, says the Apostle (1 Cor. 2:16), and we need to depend on this direction deep in our spirits.  The Holy Spirit of God dwells within the heart of the worship leader.  We have spent our lives studying the Word of God.  We know the ways of the Spirit.  We know the repertoire of the congregation.  Our job is to find the mind of Christ for each service.  I call this theme the Truth the Spirit wants for that service.

      For each service, the worship leader must then compile a liturgy[1] (set of congregational songs) that follows the theme the Lord wants.  I use the term liturgy for its literal meaning, "the work of the people," or to say it a different way, the words and actions of the people in public worship.  In our churches the liturgy is formed largely by the traditional and contemporary songs the congregation sings. Leaders need to see these songs for the functions they perform in the service: calls to worship; expressions of thanksgiving; proclamations of praise; and prayers of adoration, commitment, and intercession.  When we begin to see our songs as our liturgy, we are beginning to understand the role of the song in public worship and how to plan a worship service.

Parts of the Service 

      Worship planners need to see the whole worship service and not just a series of smaller events.  The classical Pentecostal worship structure is Worship / Word / Altar.  Each of these three sections can be also broken down into components.

Call to Worship
Reading of Scripture
Altar Call (appeal to the lost)
Preaching of Word
Altar Call (appeal to the church)
Congregational Praise, Worship, and Prayer (Prayer for Needs)
Words of Testimony
Altar Prayer (season of prayer in response to the Worship and Word)
Offerings: (Money, Special Music)
Artistic Expressions in support of sermon (drama, songs, etc.)
Benediction (Pastoral Blessing)and Dismissal (Sending forth of people)

      Pentecostals believe that each of these parts of the service is a means of grace; in other words, God's grace flows to us as we worship, as we honor the Word, and as we respond in prayer. 

       Congregational songs can serve each of these portions of the service, especially in Worship and Altar.   When we have found the Truth that the Spirit wants for a service, we can then choose songs to engage every ethnic and generational culture within the congregation.[2] There is an old Pentecostal axiom, "The anointing breaks the yoke" (Isa. 10:27). The presence of the anointing (the power of the Spirit) upon the selected songs proves the integrity of the choices of the leader and breaks down resistance in those who truly want to enter into the worship.  The manifest presence of Jesus is the proof of God's inspiration of the plan of worship. 

      When we have found the Truth that the Spirit wants for a service and carefully crafted a liturgy to express and develop that truth, and when we have faithfully led the people in their sincere presentation of this sacrifice to the Lord, He responds with His manifest presence.  As the writer to the Hebrews encourages us, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6 KJV).  His presence is our reward and our renewal.

Strategy 6: Find and Follow the Mind of God Every Week.

Further Reading from Dr. Phifer:

Worship That Pleases God--The Passion and Reason of Worship
Worship: A Pentecostal Perspective--Seeking the Ways of the Spirit
Ancient Future Pentecost--A Study in 21st Century Possibilities
The Flows of Worship
Principles of Worship Leading
The Top Ten Hindrances to the Flow of Worship
When the Music Changes
Sing Unto The Lord An Old Song--The Integral Use of Hymns in Contemporary Worship

[1] In Acts 13:1-2 the word used for "ministered to the Lord" is NT:3008 leitourgeo (li-toorg-eh'-o); from NT:3011; to be a public servant, i.e. (by analogy) to perform religious or charitable functions (worship, obey, relieve): KJV - minister. Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary (Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc., 2003).  This is the root word of liturgy--a service to the Lord performed by the people.

 [2] Each service will not have every ethnic or generational style within the congregation; this balance is found over time, week by week.