28 July 2009

I know how to start an instant 200-comment brawl, and here's the proof

by Dan Phillips

Of a (say) 90-minute service, how much should be devoted to songs, announcements, other things?

How long should the sermon be?

How many choruses?

How many hymns?

What is excessive?

And, in every case, on what principle?

This is a more-or-less free-for-all, but within the posted blog rules, and my apparently random (but judicious) exertion of sheer sphere sovereignty. And I further stipulate that this is a discussion over those things, not over whether we should discuss those things.

Keep it friendly.

Dan Phillips's signature


1 – 200 of 246   Newer›   Newest»
DJP said...

"Brawl" in the sense of the kids making noise and throwing cushions and laughing; not in the sense of gunshots and bloodshed.

There. 199 to go.

Scott Shaffer said...

90 minutes? Well there's the first problem. :)

donsands said...

I like a 30-40 minute sermon.

4 0r 5 hymns.

3 0r 2 choruses.

annoucements in the begining 5-7 minutes

Pastoral prayer, and Scripture readings, Lord's Supper, and so forth, about 20 minutes or so.


That's about it.

Charles E. Whisnant said...

45 minutes teaching the text.
20 minutes singing (a little too long
5 minutes reading from a passage of scripture
That leaves 20 minutes to fellowship after the service.

Chris Roberts said...

I'd love to get away with a 90 minute service. We're stuck in the 60 minute model and many gripes to follow when five minutes over.

Mark B. Hanson said...

Call to Worship
Opening Hymn
Confession of Sin
Lord's Prayer
Hymn of Response
Offering Prayer / Offering
--- 20 minutes

O.T. Reading
Sung Psalm
N.T. Reading
--- 45 minutes

Pastoral Prayer
Lord's Supper
Closing Prayer
Closing Hymn
--- 25 minutes

4 hymns / Psalms, 30 - 40 minute sermon

A baptism adds about 10 minutes

Mark B. Hanson said...

Sorry - principles.

1. The shape of the service is patterened after the shape found at Mount Sinai, Solomon's dedication, and in Revelation:

Entry through sacrifice
Presentation of God's law / word
Fellowship meal

2. Lord's supper every week - after all, Jesus' body and blood are real food and drink.

Much more could be said, but time prohibits.

Frank Turk said...

um, and what about ordinances/sacraments? You'd think a guy who has attended a Presby church as long as you would have had that on the list someplace ...

And THAT is NOT off-topic.

David Rudd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Turk: what, "other things" didn't come through on your magic phone?!


DJP said...

Rudd's comment started it doesn't matter, then ends in a link to a post on another blog.

I made one post-specific rule: "this is a discussion over those things, not over whether we should discuss those things."

If you have thoughts, here's the discussion, in this meta. If you're interesting, folks will track your profile to your blog.

Frank Turk said...

In order to get you to the magic 200, DJP, I object to the idea that you can relegate the ordinances to "other things" as if they were merely incidental below "announcements" and "choruses".

I mean: if you want 200 comments, where this thing is going right now is never going to get there. Even Rudd's comment won't get enough huffy objections to get you past 100.


I think the problem with your list, and with this question, is that it has to get first things first, and if anything is necessary in the worship service, it has to be preaching and the Ordinances God has established for His worship.

NOW, let's see how close to 200 you get -- and whether the happy-clappies and the "word of knowledge" people get you to the elusive 200-comment level.

JackW said...

Two many questions!

Answer: The WORD.

Was Jesus' sermon in His hometown too short or Paul's during the sleeping boy incident too long?

The Squirrel said...

90 minute service?

90 minute sermon!

people can hum as they enter and leave, and the announcements can be printed in the bulletin.



Scott Aniol said...

John 4 - worship is spirit and truth, that is, spiritual response to truth about God.

So, worship should include presentation of truth and response to that truth, and it makes sense to me to have that equally distributed in a service.

If your service is is 90 mins, I would suggest 45 mins being dedicated to truth presentation (the sermon being the primary content of truth presentation) and 45 mins being dedicated to forms of response (offering, hymns, etc.).

I like the idea of having the responses after the presentation of truth, but they could be mixed.

beencalled said...

Is that 90 minutes with or with out the light show? ;)

DJP said...

OK, so, with Turk's comment we now have one vote for the other definition of "brawl."

DJP said...

< sigh >

I wrote: Of a (say) 90-minute service....

Anyone who wants to say "too short" or "too long" is free to do so.

I wrote: ...other things

Anyone who wants to specify what the "other things" should be, and how much time they should take, is free to do so.

Paul said...

Say the service starts at 10am

10am - Opening video
10.10 - Opening joke, announcements
10.15 - Our God is an awesome God (chorus only)
10.30 - Drama
10.40 - Motivational Speech
11.00 - Responsive Dance
11.05 - Our God is an awesome God (reprise)
11.15 - Altar call
11.25 - Closing joke
11.30 - Coffee etc.

DJP said...


Paul is a man who knows the difference between the "is" and the "should be."

DJP said...

So nobody's said "Hymns? What hymns?" yet.

I've been surprised at the number of evangelical churches I've visited that seem to do no hymns.

When I've set the "liturgy," I generally did a total of two hymns, two choruses, on average.

Paul said...

Alright then, I'll bite and give a serious answer.

I'm only a poor 'worship leader' so I'll limit this comment to songs.

I always try to have one Psalm setting, one hymn-type song (normally old but sometimes a Getty/Townend type one) and one Cerse-chorus type song.

Any more than that of any of the above is a bonus.

Mind you, to explain, I'm in a church plant, with not a lot of people as of yet at least half an hour of our 90 minutes is taken up with preaching (sometimes more, sometimes with Q and A after). At least 15 minutes is also spent before we formally start building relationships, talking to people, welcoming etc.

So most of that is just "what we do" rather than my theological reflection on what we ought to do. The only thing above that is a principle as far as I'm concerned is the at least one psalm/hymn/song rule. That's radical enough in the tradition I come from, in which Psalms is a book of poetry, not songs. If it were up to me I'd probably do a few more Psalms.

April said...

I have nothing to offer in the way of appropriate schedule. (I do like our church's schedule: 45 min sermon/25-30 worship/everything else--including kicking the younger kids to their classes in that last 15 minutes.)

But I don't see anyone backing up their schedule with principles. I think we probably don't think of the "Why" or "Is it appropriate" enough. We do it because that's how it's done in our church, therefore that's how we do it. We like what we know, and it's good because we know it and like it.

Where are the principles, guys?

DJP said...


A. I like it... I think.

B. I was going to look up "Cerse," then realized that if I didn't know it, probably a few others didn't as well. Would you please explain?

DJP said...

April, your mix strikes me as about right, or certainly in the right county.

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

I've only been to one church that had an enjoyable 90 minute service. It was half music, half preaching. The preacher was young and dynamic and most of the time, no one minded sitting in the hard pews for 45 minutes. They even got communion in every week during the final songs. It was a perfect lineup. It always annoys me when (especially pastors) balk at doing communion more regularly because of the 'logistical' difficulties of it. It's too important to relegate to an afterthought once a quarter.

Paul said...

Cerse is a deeply scholarly way of mistyping "Verse". So verse-chorus structure, as in virtually all popular music.

As far as principles go: There is no spoon!

God has not spoken, we should remain quiet on oughts.

There is a principle that Mark Hanson's laid out which is often called Covenant Renewal Worship, with which I agree. Order is important. Attitude is important. Timing is less so.

sbrogden said...

Here's how we do it, in about 2 hours, not counting the fellowship meal. Everything we do is based on a reformed view of Scriptural instruction to the church.


Tim said...

On the length of the sermon, I'm thinking along the lines of Eccl. 5:2.


Gary said...

DJP: "I've been surprised at the number of evangelical churches I've visited that seem to do no hymns."

And you've scared most of them away from the blog by now. So, it's not really surprising to me!

ulfbiggorilla said...

Our service is 120 minutes, about 35 for singing (a combination of Sovereign Grace Ministries/Vineyard/Hillsongs with Hymns. This past week we started with Great Is Thy Faithfulness...probably one of the top ten best songs ever written).

Then we have seven to ten minutes or so for tithes/announcements. Then a brief break to take children to Sunday school.

Then 45 to 55 minutes for the preaching of the Word with a few minutes at the end for response in singing or prayer.

That's the general structure, with communion and baptism taking place regularly though not every week. They are at the end of the time of singing.

I am not a pastor so I can't speak for them but it is clear that the reason behind the way our gatherings work is priority being placed upon the preaching of the Word. That is central, and the focus of the gathering. Other things are important and necessary, but focus is the preached Word.

Bob said...

That was hilarious Paul. I personally hate the whole "time" thing. Why not just start off knowing that the whole day is dedicated and then sincerely worship in spirit. By that I mean, don't try to control what God is doing by rushing it. Neither should we linger unnecessarily. could be an hour, or 2 or 3. Or, God forbid, real revival could break out.
Having said that , the emphasis should be on priorities. The Word being the first. Prayer second. Songs, hymns and spiritual songs next. Choruses? well, they have their place at times.
none of the things Paul said. lol

stratagem said...

I say no music at all. Can't do it without entering into the realm of entertainment in this culture, no matter how hard you try. (And I say that as someone who has played guitar on worship teams for years). There are those who think they achieve music without it being entertainment, but they just don't know.
Now someone will say "but what about worship?" Then I will say "is music the only form of worship there is or can be?"
Teach the word for 45 minutes, prayer, commune, and fellowship the rest of the time. No music.

Steven said...

20 minutes standing in line at the Starbucks in the lobby;
15 minutes getting the sofa cushions and bean bag chairs properly arranged;
15 minutes of paraise songs (includes a really rockin 5 min drum solo);
5 minute exhortation to be a good social citizen;
A closing song that sounds suspiciously like Free Bird

- Golly I love these new churches.

April said...

Paul, that's a little disingenuous, "No principle, but this principle." If there's no principle then why be harsh on the clown people?

We (and by we, I mean the preacher. Not me.) preach the Word because the Word commands it. We sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs because the Word commands it, we do what is necessary to keep order (i.e. announcements) because the Word commands it. That's a pretty big spoon.

You might say that there is flexibility allowed in order and timing, but perhaps not. What does the Word call us to do? Shouldn't that be the principle?

DJP said...

Drum solo. I like it.

JackW said...

By what principle is entertainment not allowed in worship?

Rob said...

Good post, and my $.02...

90 is too short.
15-20 min of songs/hymns.
10 min reading a chapter each from OT/NT.
45 min should be devoted to the message - systematic Biblical exegesis, and not topical teaching.
Also, giving more time (10-15 min) for the Lord's supper, allowing time for father's to pray with their family, is ideal.

DJP said...

Stratagem, I appreciate you if only for making my attitude towards music (as yet unexpressed) seem less extreme.

sbrogden said...

Rob - you near perfectly described how our elders "do things" at http://www.gracefamilybaptist.net/

To God alone be the glory.

Steven said...

On a more serious note:

Opening anthem (choir) - 3-5 minutes;
Call to worship (i.e prayer) - 2-3 minutes;
Hymn - 3-4 minutes;
Scripture reading - 4-5 minutes;
Pastoral prayer - 4-5 minutes;
Hymn - 3-4 minutes;
Chorus - 2-3 minutes;
Sermon - until the passage is properly exegeted (typically 45 minutes);
Hymn - 2-3 minutes;
Offetory - 4-5 minutes;
Announcements/welcome new members - 4-5 minutes;
Benediction - 2-3 minutes

Paul said...

stratagem - There's entertainment that's there to keep people amused, and there are things that naturally are enjoyable/entertaining. Should we cut anything out of the service that people might enjoy? And why did God give us a book of 150 songs in the Bible if we weren't meant to sing any?

April- sorry, I wasn't clear. Yes there are principles, but none that I am aware of on the timing issue.

DJP - 200 comments was looking shaky there at the beginning, you had to put some effort in. Now you're laughing all the way to the blog...

Solameanie said...

But what about drive-through churches? A service wouldn't be able to last much longer than the time it takes to get your Big Mac, so some serious abbreviation is necessary.

I understand the "hymnals" for these types of services are written in haiku form.

NoLongerBlind said...

{s}All this discussion, and no-one has yet to mention the importance of a dramatic entrance by the uber-cool pastor, on, say, a motorcycle?

'Course, the dramatic entrance would have to change each week.....{/s}


sbrogden said...

NoLongerBlind - to see what you described, all one has to do is visit the Woodlands Church in the Houston area, aka "Cirque du Shook".

Boerseuntjie said...


Here in the United Kingdom we cater to the inability of the audiance - as short as possible - lest they forget what is taught (It is such a shame that the people forget immediately after the closing prayers anyway).

After all we shall be an ETERNITY praising Him, be in His Perfect Presence, serving, enjoying, loving (Without sin) and so forth - but please LET US NOT HAVE TO SIT FOR AN HOUR to listen to the Verbum Dei being spoken by the Oracles of the LORD...
[Please not ethe sarcasm is not for effect, it is to express my disgust at our own desire for the world above our LORD and the knowledge and communion with Him and His people].

Boerseuntjie said...

Oh, I note the omission of Door to Door or Street Evangelism from the LORD's day in many Churches - This is a sad state for the Church to be in considering that the Cults are consistent in their zeal (Whether driven by fear, legalism or their zeal).

Why do we leave out personal vangelism from the LORD's day; or for "missionaries"?
Should we not be encouraging one another to be zealously in love with lost sinners?

Boerseuntjie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul said...

To be fair, Boerseuntjie, too few UK pastors/preachers are able to fill even half an hour with useful, Biblical content.

But we do have a horrible complaining attitude about church services (or anything for that matter) that go over time.

DJP said...

All right, I suppose it's time to set up the target.

CENTRAL PRINCIPLE: God's express priority should be ours.

The marching orders of the leadership of Christ's church are: make STUDENTS out of the nation by two activities: instructing and immersing converts.

The instruction should be comprehensive ("all that I have commanded you"). It should be central (Colossians 3:16 is addressed to the assembly, not primarily to individuals).

THEREFORE: everything else should support and take second place to the priority of glorifying God by preaching the Word.

Songs should complement the message. But here I really do think it gets hard. I can't hardly say the word "music" at my blog without guaranteeing a big long meta with some really strong feelings.

To many people, music is essential, moving, vital, and almost synonymous to worship.

To me, if there are more than about four songs, the effect is more soporific than anything else. If they are all interchangeable elevator music choruses, that effect escalates.

If the announcements are printed out in the bulletin, folks should be referred thither. The preacher/deacon shouldn't turn himself into a human bulletin-board.

Ordinances, prayer, Scripture-reading = all Biblically-mandated. Do them.

jordan fowler said...

90 minutes??? Get it on man, Worship God, fuel them with His glory and give them a 20-30 headstart on BEING the Church in the world.

(You can preach as long as you like but people stop listening at about 31 minutes). But pack those 30 minutes full or richness (think cheesecake preaching rather than key lime pie preaching).

archshrk said...

Opening worship: 3-4 songs
Sermon/message: 45-60 minutes
Communion: 5-10 min*
Closing Worship: 3-4 songs
Benediction: 1 min.

*Larger congregations require more communion stations (assumes everyone comes to a communion station) Also, this is where tithing occurs.

DJP said...

Eight songs?


Paul said...

Taking a shot at DJP's target...

Isn't all of the meeting geared towards making disciples of all nations? Sermons aren't the only way that happens; at least in a good church.

All the prayers, singing, creeds, confessions teach the congregation to be disciples in different ways. And the bread and wine do this most of all.

Furthermore, does time necessarily -> importance? It doesn't in many other forms of communication, order, clarity and volume often have more impact.

Tim Nixon said...

I agree with the principles set forth by April. I am a teaching elder(pastor), so I obviously have a view on how things should go. I don't believe that putting a time limit on a service. So for me though, minimum of 30 minutes of worship through music, and I am one that will boldly proclaim that the hymns don't HAVE to be sung in a service. I prefer to have the music support the sermon, and the leader is free to choose any songs old or new that support the message. There are many songs that meet the biblical definitions of Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual songs. I personally use the definitions of those words that John MacArthur provided in his study Bible in Ephesians. I also do lead music, and when I lead and preach, I sit down and pray to the Lord over the selection of music just as I would when praying for the sermon study time. I would ask "Okay Father, what songs would you like us to worship You with this week?". Sometimes that includes a few hymns, sometimes that doesn't, and yes we use a praise band of guitars, piano and drums. Other forms of worship: prayer, Scripture reading, and giving should all have their place in our regular Sunday morning times, and we celebrate the Lord's table on the first Sunday of every month. The teaching time 40 minutes to an hour. Again I think no time-limit should be placed on those things. I always say, Christ hung on the cross for 9 hours, we can afford to give Him 2-3 on a given Sunday. Most people don't seem to agree. Principles: Paul's writing in the NT, already referred to by April!

Roberto G said...

Scripture readings could be 15-20 minutes. Announcements, are not to be considered part of the worship service and can take place before or after the worship service. These and other things, Reformed folk would say, are to be regulated by the Scripture principle that only what is commanded should take place and what is not commanded is forbidden.

Tim Nixon said...

My other post was already to long, but here is a story I heard from a friend of mine who regularly goes on business trips to China. One trip he shared the gospel with his translator, and the Holy Spirit open the translator's heart and he became a child of God. So when my friend went back over he went church with this Chinese man. When they entered the building the men and women were asked to separate for 30 minutes of prayer, they then came back together for 30 minutes of Bible reading, followed by 30 minutes of singing. After that first 90 minutes, they were ready for the 60 minutes of preaching. That is a good approach. I would say here in America there aren't may people who attend church regularly that could "handle" that on a weekly basis. And that is the problem here in America. And I admit it would take a lot of discipline for me to be able to do those things weekly. But our God is worthy of all the praise and honor that we give Him, and we should give it to Him everyday, and often as we meet corporately.

Roberto G said...

I accidentally deleted this in my original post:
The substantial portion of the worship service should be the preaching of the Word since that is God speaking to His people. Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs can be 15-20 minutes.

Rhology said...

I'm still laughing about Paul's "responsive dance".

Word verification: cactusn

Definition: What DJP is doing to people's backsides in the original post.

Stephen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
stratagem said...

OK, now that I've played 'music nazi' to make Dan look more evenhanded, let me clarify the "principle" by which my previous comments were made: Key phrase being "in this culture" one cannot be performing music without it being a performance/stage/"lookit us" situation in at least the minds of many people who spend umpteen hours a day watching self-glorifying musical entertainers. The point of the service is to instruct and to glorify God. So, let your worship team sit in the front pew or in a orchestra pit and play and sing. If you can't do that, then there is some aspect of your stage presence that's self-glorifying entertainment. And that's what's wrong with it.

chopstickschan said...

Strategem, you are right about the disastrous effect of entertainment on music in western culture. Ask any godly preacher anywhere about the struggle with pride, as well as pleasing men, in preaching, and he will tell you how great it is. But we do not even consider doing away with preaching. The fellow who reads the Scripture will have struggles within--but we do not do away with that. And I think it is quite safe to say that back in David's day, the choir had it's own problems with the entertainment snare. The devil takes every opportunity to either counterfeit or infiltrate everything we try to do as Christians. I think it more of a struggle for some, but I don't think that no music will solve the problem. The responsiblity is cast upon the individual to keep his heart right before God; there are always tares among the wheat, but that is no reason for the wheat to stop growing. If music is not someone's "thing" so much, fine and well, but I don't think he should try to cut back on a form of worship (not much, but real heart-felt glorying of God in music)which delights the soul of another believer. Neither should the singing one disregard the one not so taken with musical worship.

You will never miss bursting out in song to God in corporate worship so much as when you no longer have the opportunity to do it.

DJP said...

If the in-post stipulation that "that this is a discussion over those things, not over whether we should discuss those things" wasn't sufficient, I hereby extend my formal permission to anyone not to participate. Feel free to be grieved and concerned in the place of your choosing. This not being that place.

Now, back to the topic:

I see many agree that the Word should be central. This was a truth the Reformation reclaimed, and it even affected church architecture.

But I see the Reformation being supplanted both unintentionally and intentionally when things not mentioned in the NT (loosely "entertainment") push aside Biblically-related activities, and particularly preaching, or just when "the good" grows so that it supplants "the best."

Gotta confess, few things irk me more than when a sermon is shortened because we ______.

No. Shorten something else. Not the preaching of the Word.

chopstickschan said...

Strat, I missed your last comment because I was writing mine :) You're too witty to be a music nazi anyway.

stratagem said...

C.S.Chan: No problem. You are most gracious.

The Squirrel said...

"Gotta confess, few things irk me more than when a sermon is shortened because we ______.

No. Shorten something else. Not the preaching of the Word.

Yet that seems to be the one thing that so many "worship services" could get by without just fine.

The Apostles' Teaching, Prayer, and Fellowship. Nothing wrong with songs and/or singing, but music is not central to our faith.

I notice that most of the preachers with whom I've filled my iPod preach between 40 and 70 minutes per message.


DJP said...

Well, and the purpose of the songs and hymns in a Christian worship service is to instruct and admonish one another as we sing to God (cf. Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Not to hypnotize nor put each other to sleep. It's preaching the Word: preaching by singing, preaching by communion (1 Corinthians 11:26), preaching by preaching (2 Timothy 4:1-2).

The Squirrel said...

And don't forget congregational calisthenics! Staying healthy is very important.



Larry Geiger said...

Lutheran Service Book
Setting One, two, three, four or five.
As long as it takes.
Principle - see Luther.

Jugulum said...

Announcements. I would love to change the placement of the announcements at my church, but I don't know how.

We have:
1.) worship music
2.) offering
3.) announcements
4.) sermon
5.) a benediction & an invitation to pray with our prayer teams.

I don't like the way that the announcements break up the worship service in half, with more pragmatic concerns. It breaks the worshipful spirit of the singing apart from the sermon. Almost implying that the sermon isn't part of the worship. I would much rather have a unity of worship throughout the whole service.

We could put announcements at the end, but that interferes with the reflection and prayer ministry time.

And we could put announcements at the beginning, but my church suffers the "people trickle in till about halfway through the singing time" problem. If we put announcements at the beginning, lots of people won't hear them.


Gary said...

"It's preaching the Word: preaching by singing, preaching by communion (1 Corinthians 11:26), preaching by preaching (2 Timothy 4:1-2)."

Preaching by riding motorcycles around the room?

donsands said...

A couple friends of mine visited a church in the area, just to check it out.

They began the service by singing the theme song to "Cheers" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FD8ljNobUys
No kiddin'. Sad. And stupid.

Another huge church in my area, had the pastor eneter the sanctuary riding his motorcycle, and he actaully rode around the sanctuary, and then gave a sermon on living adventourous for Jesus, or something like that.
I think it was a 90 minute service.

Amazing what goes on out there in Sunday services in our age. The whole focus is people, self, and learning to be nicer people, and of course peppered with the Bible a bit.

UinenMaia said...

My former church was known for putting Time at the top of the Trinity, with Fellowship (food) and Fun as the two lower points. The chruch follows a liturgy closely resembling a Catholic Mass, meaning an OT reading, an NT reading, and a reading from one of the Gospels.

A minister once had about 12 verses of the Gospel to read. As his sermon was not on the Gospel reading, he said, "In the interest of time, we will just read the first verse of the Gospel." That first verse was one of those that established location for the passage - meaningless without the rest of the portion of scripture.

There are at least two seminaries in that denomination that teach new pastors that the ideal sermon is less than 10 minutes. The rationale is that the sermon should match the amount of time a TV program uses between commercial breaks. We have to adjust to the culture, you know.

This is a key reason why I am now in a church where 90 minutes is standard and the sermon is most of that time (45-55 minutes). I have never been happier.

If pressed, though, I would say that the sermon portion should go as long as it takes to exegete the passage thoroughly. If that means 35 minutes one week and 55 another, so be it. Just don't leave me with a partially explored passage because "time ran out."

archshrk said...

"Eight songs?

You haven't heard our songs. Many are more convicting than the average sermon. That said, Worship can be just as tricky (and a personal preference) as any part of a church. There will always be some one who thinks it's too fast, too slow, too soft, too loud, etc. etc. etc.

In some ways, I equate the worship to a responsive call where we don't just consume the message but we profess it.

The Blainemonster said...

Aside from all the other opinions I might add, I will proffer this pet peeve:

When, regardless of Sunday morning format, there is that clunky break between singing and preaching called "announcements." Ugh.

Oh, and why exactly does a sermon have to start with a joke?

Stephen said...

arcskirk, Dan doesn't need to hear anything. He has it all figured out.

Just ask him.

UinenMaia said...

And just to add on to Squirrel's response to DJP. In my current church, we sing 4 songs, usually. Two at the beginning, one before the sermon, one after the sermon. One is usually a Psalm or closely based on a Psalm. The one following the sermon is used almost responsively to what has been taught.

When time is "tight" (which has only really happened on a week when we have communion, a baptism, and a new member reception at the same time) or the pastor chooses to shorten things a bit, he will cut verses from the hymns. Now, since I am sensitive about the Time=God thing, I have paid particular attention to what he does at those times. Thus far, the verses that he has kept have been the ones most closely related to the Scripture passages or his message. He does not cut frivolously that I have seen.

Announcements take 2 minutes at the beginning and are only used to bring necessary things to the attention of the congregation or to mention something that came in after the bulletin was printed. Once they are done, then we have the prelude to "prepare our hearts for worship". From that moment on, it is all about God.

KRG said...

I like the majority of the singing and the sacraments to be after the sermon so they can be done in response to truth that is (hopefully) preached. I hate announcements, make people read the bulletin instead of throwing it away. I don't have a biblical principle for that one, but its probably in there somewhere, minor prophets maybe.

KRG said...

On the issue of time, it would be great to have the service go as long as it takes to properly teach a passage, but from the perspective of a pre-school Sunday school teacher, its really nice when the service ends within 15min of when its supposed to.

takin said...

On Monday nights:

3-5 min. Bible reading - openning prayer.

40 min. singing (mostly modern worship songs - occasional hymn)

15 min. dinner

5 min. announcements

50 min. preaching through the OT. (1 or 2 chapters)

10 min. singing (reflecting on the Word) and communion once a month.

That's 2 hrs. on a Monday night.

The Squirrel said...

I would not object to a service that begins, "Welcome! It is good to see you all this morning. We've got a lot to cover today, so let's get with it. Please open you Bibles to..."


Even So... said...

Basic Order of Service

Start 10:30 am

End 12:01 pm – 12:30 pm



(Baptisms if applicable)

Additional Announcements (not in bulletin, you know, like someone died this morning, etc.)

Scripture reading (sermon text)

(10-20 minutes)


6-7 total “songs” (includes our offering)

2/3 – Hymns (some in traditional style, some reworked – same lyrics different music)

2/3 – “Praise songs” (many written by our church, focus on God, not “me”)

2/3 – New songs/hymns/spiritual songs (our own and/or Getty, Sovereign Grace, etc.)

(20-40 minutes)


Closing Prayer

(40 minutes – 80 minutes – includes Communion)

We never finish before 12:01, but we sometimes have “bonus minutes” (past 12:30)

Fellowship Meal
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Nursing Home
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

It is the Lord’s “day”, not the Lord’s hour and a half

Dave Sherrill said...

I agree with several of the posters here that you should not shorten the preaching in order to inflate the time singing. With that said, it is commonsensicle that there be actual, helpful, convicting gospel to fill the sermon time.

I would want President Obama's former pastor to cut his sermons short in favor of nearly anything else.

stratagem said...

Oh and to further stoke the brawl that Dan is vying to instigate, I'll just state that the idea I raised about the worship team playing music from an orchestra pit or otherwise out of sight, won't ever happen in our culture. Because it is intended to be partly a show, and the show is used to bring in numbers. Generally speaking, that is.

The Squirrel said...

"I would want President Obama's former pastor to cut his sermons short in favor of nearly anything else."


stratagem said...

"It is the Lord’s “day”, not the Lord’s hour and a half."

Sounds awful. And legalistic. and oppressive.
If that's the principle, then why not start at 4 AM and end at 10 PM?

TAR said...

I do not have a principle.

Worship belongs to God and I will sing as long as it is worship to Him, I will sit and listen as long as He is being glorified and i am being taught and encouraged.

I hate time constrains , having to make a redundant sermon last 40 minutes or having to cut short an excellent sermon.

Before i was reformed i went to a church that had 90 to 120 minute services

It never seemed "long" . Worship was often 30 or 40 minutes..

As a presbyterian i find the mandatory announcements and the 4 or 5 songs as just the routine ...and the pastor never takes his eyes off the clock in the back of the church..

I often wondering who we might hold up if Gods was really in charge of the service

Mom said...

Paul seems to prescribe an ideal gathering in 1 Corinthians 14:26, and before: a meal, the Lord's supper, hymn and word of instruction.
What I've always wondered about is the command that there be more than one speaker, at least two or three, (vs. 29) and not necessarily a "planned sermon", and the main speaker should be able to be interrupted. ("And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down the first speaker should stop." vs.30)
Has anyone ever attended a church where this has been practiced? I attended one for years and it was most often awkward and sort of weird. I've heard the Sovereign Grace churches open a "prophecy-mike".
Although I'm not charismatic, these scriptures have always made me wonder if our gatherings aren't missing something vital.

DJP said...

Well TAR, that really opens up a whole 'nother (but related) topic. Happily, you caught me in an expansive mood.

We don't have two choices only:
1. Rigidly ordered schedule down to the second
2. Wild, open-ended, free-wheeling chaos, with tie-die shirts and love beads, in the name of God

Somewhere in there is the fact that all things should be done decently and according to order (1 Corinthians 14:40), and that even the gifts of immediately-inspired, inerrant prophets were exercised under the prophets' control and according to order (1 Corinthians 14:32).

Reminds me of a story Willam Barclay told of a pious old clergy who out loud admired the beauty and order of "God's garden" in the church yard.

The church gardner heard him and snorted, "Y'should've seen it when He 'ad it to 'Isself!"

IOW, we can't shrug off the Biblically-mandated responsibilities of planning and orderliness (cf. Scriptures above, plus (cf. Proverbs 16:1). No matter how much and how carefully I plan, nothing I do (contrary to popular myths) can "handcuff God" (Proverbs 16:9).

Hope that's of some help.

DJP said...

My really short thought, Mom, would be that the only service missing something vital would be the service where the Word was not preached primarily, passionately, truthfully, God-honoringly, and under the Spirit's blessing.

donsands said...

"I hate time constrains" -TAR

But I wonder, do the nursary workers hate the time constains?

Thom said...

I would say shorten the whole to about 75 minutes
Announcements start 5 minutes prior- that way no one can say you don't do them but they are not a part of the actual worship time (should they be?)
It seems that more singing is in order these days as:1. people don't do it much anymore as a regular part of life and 2. it si still a very moving part of the service whether singing or just listening to others.

JackW said...

stratagem, I kind of agree with your idea of out of sight or orchestra pit, but on the other hand ... would that work with the sermon also?

If worship leaders were instead lead worshipers, people would be drawn to worship also.

Solameanie said...

I am strongly tempted to frank-privilege the meta and go off on William Barclay, but I won't do that. He actually did have good things to say now and then, despite his other problematic issues.

On the topic at hand, would it be helpful for us to remember what the assembly is for in answering questions such as these? The primary purpose is to worship God, learn the Word and be equipped for ministry. The last two things can probably be included as part of the first. And then we get into the issue of what actually constitutes worship.

And that issue would probably take this meta well beyond 200.

dave bish said...

Our church meets for about 90mins of which generally

40mins: Singing, prayers, readings, prophecy, tongues with interpretation etc from the members of the body for the strengthening of the body in the gospel. On the principle of 1 Corinthians 14.


10mins: Family business (information etc) on the principle of necessity and clear communication, and being able to rejoice and weep together.

and then...

40mins: Expository sermon, on the principle that God speaks to us through the preached word and that's the climax of the meeting.

DJP said...

Another clarification:

I'm fine if anyone wants to talk about how long a service "should" be, and explain why.

My premise was explicitly, given a 90-minute service, how much should go to this, that, and the inevitable Other Thing?

If you say 60, 75 120 minutes, fine.

Same question.

Scott said...

It occurs to me that duration is much less important than content. I have been exposed to sermons that were an hour in length that had 10 minutes or less of profitable Biblical teaching. On the other hand, many are constrained by time when there is so much more to learn. Our task is to seek quality in worship, praise, and prayer without ceasing.

Thom said...

75 minutes (via fuzzy math):
Announcements/news-Prior to service 5 minutes
Call to Worship-3. 5 minutes
Opening prayer-3 minutes
Singing of hymns/songs 15 minutes
Church family prayer- 4 minutes
Offerings and tithes- 3 minutes
Sermon- 40 minutes
Call to action- 5 minutes
Closing song- 3.5 minutes

BTW, do you cpunt your comments as part of the 200? That would seem to insure the outcome.

DJP said...

Scott, agreed.

Thom, yes they count. That would only be unfair if I padded the thread with unnecessary comments.

DJP said...

(Which I don't.)


stratagem said...

JackW: The idea of having the musicians out of sight is hardly mine, nor hardly new. That's the way it generally was in the church until the modern circus church, entertainment-focused (i.e., TV)age.
As far as having the preacher out of sight, that seems to me to be a bit overboard. There is not the same fan-club aura around speakers as there is around musicians in this culture. And I freely admit that I'm being culturally anti-relevant in suggesting what I'm suggesting. But as I said previously, there is no danger that any church out there is going to adopt this idea, because it would cost them numbers.

John P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Even So... said...

Well, I hope my tone here doesn't raise your hackles too much...

My point was that we really shouldn't be "watching the clock". That would be legalistic in itself, now wouldn't it? To say that something more than an hour and a half sounds "oppressive" and "legalistic" proves the point...sometimes you go for an hour, sometimes it is closer to two, or more. If we are there to worship, and if we are truly doing that, then a few minutes here and there probably won't upset too many people, unless they feel oppressed by not havng a service end "on time"...those people probably feel "awful" and don't really want to make any concessions in the form of service they dream about...but never find...

Chris Cookston said...

To help get to 200 comments and to share my thoughts I'll comment with my opinion.

First of all, I would love to lead my congregation to a 90 minute service, for now its a dream, not reality. But if I could I would. As it is now, we technically have 60, but I can't preach in less than 40 minutes, so its usually a 70 minute service, without too many gripes.

This is how I'd do it:

Hymn Singing: 10 minutes
Scripture Reading: 4 minutes
Corporate Prayer: 4 minutes
Offertory w/ Special Music: 5 minutes
Sermon: 61 minutes
Hymn: 4 minutes
Benediction: 2 minutes

And for the Sundays where we observed communion, I would pull some time from the music and my sermon, say five to seven each.
minutes out of each.

Doug Hibbard said...

Okay, here's what we do:

Announcements scrolling on screen before service starts, as well as in bulletin. If something is new/changed from the bulletin, it's pointed out on the screen. Does everyone read it? Ah, no. But, it's worth a shot. Principle? "It just makes it feel that my activity was unimportant since you announced (fill-in other group) and not mine" is not the observation I want after church. So, I announce nobody's stuff. That way all are equally offended.

Then: Start service with the choir singing a brief chorus (typically chorus of opening hymn). This points out to everyone that "hey, those of you who can't find your watch until 12:00, it's time to start!"

Next: one of the deacons reads a passage of Scripture. We started by going through Psalm 119, now they pick their own. One of them calls me and asks what I'm going to preach, and selects related text. Another uses it read Scripture he thinks I ignore. It's all the Word. No major commentary sought or delivered. Followed by prayer.

Then: Song. Usually a hymn. In theory the music guy selects hymns related to the sermon, though I don't give him much info, since he tends to go ahead and preach my points between songs. (I may not be great, but earthly help ain't what I need).

Then: Pastoral welcome and prayer. High principle: to lead in prayer, asking for God's blessing on the service and to tell people we're glad they're here. Low principle: makes sure my microphone is working.

Followed by the completely chaotic 'fellowship' time where everyone just talks. A few actually look for visitors.

Followed by 2-4 hymns, depending on length and other add-ins to the service, such as reports from VBS or youth camp. Principle? If people repeat things, like songs, they learn them. Better to repeat 'Amazing Grace' than to only hear it.

Occasionally a message in song, but not often.

Sermon: anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes. Somethings take more time, for example the first few sermons in a section of narrative need the backstory.

Followed by: Invitation hymn, because we want people to respond, (erased sarcastic comment about why) and this is the best idea we've got.

Followed by: offering, or, as labeled here, "Worship through giving"

Both invitation and offering are under the heading of "Worship through Response" because it's time to respond. Invitation is for the lost. Offering is for the saved. Everybody gets a chance.

We run 60-75 minutes, not 90. While I respect men that can preach an hour, I've done it once or twice, and done it badly. I tend to not give a good application side when I go that long. Certainly need practice. I've also, back in my pre-pastor days, been in children's church or the nursery during 90 minute services. It can get brutal if the church hasn't equipped for it, either with enough volunteers or space.

So, summary:

About 20 minutes music
About 10 minutes Scripture reading and prayer
About 20-40 minutes preaching
About 5-10 minutes fellowship and transitions.

Ordinances: Baptism goes at the beginning, with a brief explanation why we do it. Lengthens the service or 'fellowship' time is eliminated.

Lord's Supper becomes the hymn theme, and the message is based on examining ourselves and the meaning, followed by an invitation to repentance, then the actual observation, so the sermon gives way to the ordinance. Takes about 45 minutes to explain, challenge, reflect, repent, and serve.


Solameanie said...

Okay, I'll give my ideal.

2 songs.



Sermon (45 minutes. While Paul preached long enough for Eutychus to fall out the window and die, our culture isn't that hardy, I'm sorry to say)


Prayer and Benediction

Needless to say, the preaching and teaching of God's Word ought to be the centerpiece and highlight. If you want long musical performances, go to a concert.

DJP said...

Thanks, Doug. That's a pretty great narrative.

So hm. You do like they do at theaters then, with that rotation of sayings or factoids and commercials that repeat on the screen before the previews (or the "20," or whatever).

Actually, a clever idea.

chopstickschan said...

Squirrel! You're so...squirrelly today :)

Matthew N. Petersen said...

90% sung prayers (including communion), 10% homily?

NewManNoggs said...

Said with tongue in cheek, but with the conviction that some need to check their motivation -

Why do so many preachers/teachers hate music? The Catholics abuse the Lord's Table, I don't see anyone arguing that because of that, we should ignore the ordinance. Singing IS important: Col. 3:16, Eph. 5:19, etc...

Music 20 minutes
Preaching 60 minutes
Everything else 10 minutes

For Lord's Table services:
Music 10 minutes
Preaching 50 minutes
Misc. 10 minutes
Lord's Table 20 minutes

Preachers/teachers - if you are going to use that much time, you best bring the Book!

DJP said...

Preachers/teachers - if you are going to use that much time, you best bring the Book!

Hear, hear.

DJP said...

Christian church service, Matthew.

Gary said...

Last I checked, Paul's letters to worship leaders never made it in the canon. There are however some pretty clear instructions to pastors/preachers. I think that shows where God's priorites lie.

Solameanie said...

I don't hate music at all. I love it. But I think these days music seems to be the main focus, and the sermon seems to be the thing people want to sweep by as hastily as possible.

In my earlier comment, I said my "ideal." I'll qualify that by adding "under our current general norm of time spent." Ideally, God's people ought to enjoy fellowshipping and being together, and being equipped for ministry through God's Word. In Russia, services last three or four hours with lots of music and at least three sermons by three different preachers.

I don't think Americans in general could handle that, but if Christians had been persecuted here like those under communism were persecuted, we might find worship and fellowship together a little more palatable.

Fusion! said...

Ok here's how we Refomred Baptists do it in Southern Cali:
1/2 hour
1. Confession of need (prayer from the valley of Vision)
2. 3 songs
3. OT reading (ususally a Psalm)
4. 3 songs
5. NT Reading (1 chapter)
6. Offering
7. Prayer
8. Message-1 hour
9. Song of Response (1 sunday a month we include communion or the occasional baptism)

Total: about 90 mins.

90 mins seems to be the "anointed" number on here.

PS: in my old Pentecostal church, early we aimed for 1 hour of music, God only knows how, but 20 mins of announcement and specials, and 1 hour of preaching and 1 hour of fellowship.

Chris Cookston said...

Hear, hear!

I left in 60 minutes for the sermon, but this is really difficult, i.e., the text one is preaching must determine the length of the sermon. Some texts, may only need about 35 minutes for a good expository sermon. A few months ago I preached through the disciples prayer (Matt. 6:5-15). I preached one sermon on each petition, each sermon was about 30 minutes and I was able to really expose each verse. We are in danger when we try to gloss over so much in a 30 minute sermon. At least this is my opinion, I know each guy has a way and style and still falls into the category of expos.

That said, the sermon length varies. One can allow for 60 minutes or so, while the sermon may go 45, the church will probably not mind getting out ten to fifteen minutes early from time to time.

On another note, we are not just filling in time here. I would rather listen to a good 20 sermon that explains and implies the text, than 30 minutes of story time with Pastor Bob.

And by the way, I love to sing theologically sound songs and so do most preachers I know. But the Word must take priority in any Christian service. How else can our worship be fueled?

Frank Turk said...

This thread lost me at "drum solo". I'm still pretending to be fussy over the lack of attention to the scaraments in order to drraw out the closet WHI listeners in order to get DJP's thread here to 200+ posts.

DJP said...

Turk: "Scaraments."

Is that what GUTS church does at Halloween?

Doug Hibbard said...

Yep, the idea for how to do announcements came from the movie theater. And I think I've seen a Christian conference or two use the idea, but it came from the movie theater. Great ideas come from Scripture. Decent ideas can come from someplace else.

We have a powerpoint auto-scrolling with announcements, upcoming meetings, directions to the nursery, a Bible verse for an unofficial 'memory verse' for the month, and a quote by a Christian leader, generally of the past. (Basically anyone who I wouldn't mind our church members reading their books if they bothered to do so.)

When I started pastoring here, we spent the first 10 minutes of every service reading the whole bulletin. Then, when noon hit, everybody got restless, whether the service was over or not. You want to have a short attention span, we'll work on that in small bites, but I will not waste your attention span on the bulletin. If all you have is the ability to focus 10 minutes, you're going to hear the Word.

Incidentally, during the 'fellowship' time we dismiss 3 to 6 year olds to children's church. That accomplishes a couple of things: 1. Only 2 and under miss the whole service, and there's not a lot of them right now; 2. Even at 3, they are hearing the Word and participating in 1 hymn with the whole body; 3. The children's church folks generally prep an hour of stuff. By starting 15 minutes into the service, I don't stress so much about ending time, it allows a few minutes over without the childcare people having to spontaneously create.


BTW: Word verification: "Zatuate"

A word commonly used at potlucks, as in "What's zat-u-ate? Is zat all gone?"

Paula said...

Fusion! said, "PS: in my old Pentecostal church, early we aimed for 1 hour of music, God only knows how, but 20 mins of announcement and specials

Did you have pew-side delivery and could you order a side of fries with those specials?

Chris said, "And for the Sundays where we observed communion, I would pull some time from the music and my sermon, say five to seven each. minutes out of each.

Our church's monthly Lord's Supper is held after the regular service. The pastor explains that the sacrament is only for believers and others are free to leave before it begins. There is also an admonition that believers in unrepentant sin should not take communion in an unworthy manner (I Cor. 11)lest they drink judgment on themselves.

By doing it this way, there's no need to "cut corners" anywhere else.

Jugulum said...


"There is also an admonition that believers in unrepentant sin should not take communion in an unworthy manner (I Cor. 11)lest they drink judgment on themselves."

Hmm... But would your pastor discuss either of the senses of "unworthy manner" that were spoken of in 1 Cor 11?

(What? Me? Hijack? Never! :) )

sbrogden said...

My elders tell us that anyone who considers himself worthy of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is taking it in an unworthy manner.

This is the first church I've been in where we take communion every week. My first reaction was that it could be trite very soon. That ain't likely to happen, given the sober, fearful, thankful manner in which our elders handle this.

Jugulum said...


Yeah, that sounds pretty good. :)

We should be discerning that the Lord's Supper is meaningful (not just a meal), and also be discerning what that meaning is: Both remembering the body and blood of the Lord in his death, and remembering that we are the Body of Christ, united together in love, only on the basis of Christ's body and blood.

Chris Cookston said...


I think the way you do communion is great. I'm all for purity at the Lord's Table. Now, early on, I decided that when I began pastoring this church, I would move slow with any changes. This is a change I've put a low price tag on for many reasons.
1. We make communion a priority by doing it once a month on Sunday morning. The church used to be the Presbyterian church.
2. We have many who would not be able to come to an evening service, that really need to be at communion.
3. I've taken advantage of this old tradition by preaching texts on the death of Christ on many communion Sundays. Of course, its not like one could do this at a separate service just as easily.

Its funny, everyone has great ideas, but they look different in real life church ministry, everyone has their own tradition and thats cool.

Jim W said...

Whatever anyone's service looks like, I wish we could do away with the 1-2 "minutes of forced friendliness". I'm really tired of being told to shake hands/greet someone around you. If the church is truly the church, this will already be done. Let's not take away from praising God and learning about Him to pretend we're really all very friendly, when in reality, we actually don't know any of the people around us and if pushed, really don't much care.

DJP said...


(NOTE TO SELF: don't sit next to JimW)

DJP said...


I meant to respond to the person who (I think) alluded to doing something to accommodate latecomers. I must not be searching the right words; can't find the comment.

I think it's a terrible idea to do anything to accommodate latecomers.

First of all, it penalizes on-time-comers.

Second of all, it rewards — and here I am assuming chronic lateness — lack of discipline and lack of respect.

Third, it doesn't work.

First church I regularly attended "started" at 10. That's in quotation marks, because it didn't really. It started at 10:15 because many people didn't bother to get there in time to start at ten.

After months, the start-time was moved to 10:30.


You guessed it.

Service started at 10:45 or 11.

To accommodate the latecomers.

(All in the name of the family-metaphor.)

Dr Bill said...

The length of a service should directly follow on two things: how diligent the leadership is to make all things in it substantive and compelling; and, the biblical examples of what happened in corporate worship back then. Not that every possible expression of corporate worship need happen in every service, but that they are all represented in an edifying balance.

But don't you think it's hypocritical of us to think nothing of going to a movie for 2 hours, or a game for 3, but to squash the Lord's Day into 60 minutes?

Lots of things have been mentioned already (shame on us that Dan was the first to mention the Great Commission), but here's what I see in scripture:

1 - The activities of corporate praise, thanksgiving, and adoration of God in all His greatness

2 - Prayers of various kinds. Some are sung, some are silent, some are from the pastor, etc., but public prayer, including confession and intercession, is a must.

3 - The ordinances, of course

4 - Giving! Yes! It's worship! Don't put a basket in the back!

5 - Public reading of scripture

6 - Preaching, teaching, exhortation, application of the Word

7 - Church discipline! Dare I say it? A worshipping body must be a pure body. May it never be necessary.

8 - Fellowship

Since singing can encompass several of those, let "Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" overlap in function where they will. (And, FWIW, I believe that most church music barely qualifies, if at all, to be called psalms, hymns, or spiritual songs according to Biblical example.)

Now I must go on and on further to say to Strategem that culture isn't the issue, because to not sing would be disobedient to the scriptural commands, both OT and NT. You would be throwing the baby out with the cultural bathwater, soiled as it is. In fact, I believe (with all due respect to John Calvin and his followers) restricting instruments from corporate worship is unscriptural, but I won't comment further on that so no further hijacking will occur. Also, Strategem's suggestion to make the musicians invisible isn't all bad, but it does thwart a basic fact about what music in church does -- sure, it's art, but it's the texts that qualify the songs to be used in church in the first place. So the issue is communication. I'm sorry if you've seldom seen tasteful communication through musicians, but frankly, it's a lot easier to follow the choir or orchestra's lead if they're excited about praising God, or to accept and understand a sung exhortation when I can see that the person means what they're singing.

Besides, our church doesn't have a balcony, or any space at all in the back, where we can hide 'em.

Thanks for reading, if you got this far.

wv = presola, the awful state of corporate worship prior to the 5 Solas of the Reformation

The Squirrel said...

"Squirrel! You're so...squirrelly today :)"


Ah, Lynda, I'm always squirrelly!

But I meant what I said about congregational calisthenics. It's a short break for jumping jacks about an hour into the sermon. It wakes everybody up so the preacher can preach another 30 minutes.


Jugulum said...


I'm pretty sure that was me.

And I agree with you, at least in general. My sigh was partly frustration that people do make decisions on that basis.

Announcements, though, might be in a different category than the other parts of the service--because they're inherently pragmatic. They're only in the service for pragmatic reasons. (Of course, that's why I don't want them in the middle in the first place.)

As for moving the service and people still showing up late--yeah, that was predictable. People don't show up late to a 10am service because of what time it starts. (Virtually without exception, anyway.)

jeff said...

Wow! You sure know how to get people talking Dan.

The Squirrel said...

NMN said: "Why do so many preachers/teachers hate music?"

I don't hate music. In fact, Dad was a music minister for years. What I object to is the concept that worship = music-&-only-music that has become the norm. As in, "We have worship followed by the sermon..."

Sing, please. But the primary act of worship, the primary way we grow closer to God, is the study of His Word.

Just my 2 acorns...


DJP said...


1. Yep, it was you, thanks.

2. PLEASE tell me how you linked directly to your comment. Everything I've tried, to do that, has failed.

The Squirrel said...

"First church I regularly attended "started" at 10. That's in quotation marks, because it didn't really. It started at 10:15 because many people didn't bother to get there in time to start at ten. -- After months, the start-time was moved to 10:30. -- Result? -- You guessed it. -- Service started at 10:45 or 11. -- To accommodate the latecomers."

Exactly. Services start on time (within reason, the clocks belong to us, we don't belong to the clocks) and people need to learn to arrive early as a curtsy to everybody else.

As I heard on pastor put it, "You're not the event. You think you're the event, and things can't start until you get there. Well, you're wrong about that, and now you're just late."


Chris Cookston said...

Dr. Bill:

I feel your frustration about people not thinking twice about going to a game or a movie for hours on end. But then expecting church to be 60 minutes. This has been a very frustrating thing for me as a pastor.

I want to please my LORD but don't want people to get up and walk out of my sermon.

Jugulum said...


Step 1: Create a general link to the comments page.
Step 2: Find the post ID number.
Step 3: Add "#c[post ID]" to the link. (Not the brackets. Just the #c followed by the number.)

Step two is the hard part. If it's your own post, you can look at the URL in the Delete button attach to your post. (It has the post ID in it.)

If it's not your post, you have to view the source HTML for the page. (In Firefox, you can highlight your comment, right-click, and choose "View Selection Source".) At the beginning of each comment is some code like this:

<div class="r"></div></dd> <dt id="c7871874372003323868"><div class="profile-image-container">

There's the id. Copy that, and append it to the URL with a "#".

(Any time you have a tag with "id=" inside, you can use that ID as an in-page bookmark like this. Using "#[id]".)

DJP said...



Jugulum said...

P.S. You can use the "#c4417871004349512893" bookmark on both the "blogger.com" comments link and on the "teampyro.blogspot.com" link.

P.P.S. I notice that on your comment page, you do have links attached to each comment--the date/time stamp is a link. Apparently that's intended to be a direct link to the comment. But it's missing the "c" before the number, so it doesn't work. I bet you can tweak your template to fix that.

Puritan said...

My own convictions are:

-About 3 hymns with prayer in between.
-Sermon for about 35-40 although untimed, (could be longer if needed)
-Couple more hymns.
-Breaking of bread. (I don't think it is possible to come to any other HONEST conclusion in the NT that the breaking of bread was at least every Lord's Day. (Although many play theological gymnastics to try and get out of it.))
-Meal. In the NT communion is always in the context of eating together, and eating is a major part of the NT Lord's day service.
-Fellowship time (before and after meal) where people actually talk about Jesus.
-Children in the main worship meeting with families worshipping together (no age segregation sunday schools in the Bible)
-When the congregation gets too big, more church fellowships should be planted. As it is impossible for Pastors to care for and oversee the souls of people they don't even know. It is easy for leaven to hide in a "mega" church.

Jugulum said...

Er... Correction. You have the date/timestamp links on your main entry page (with a teampyro.blogspot.com link), not on your comments page.

paulwilkinson said...

A good communicator should be able to hold peoples' attention for 40-45 minutes, and frankly that's the only type of communicator I now want to hear. (I've been wrecked by DVDs and audio of some of the best...)

Worship, including readings and prayer can have the other 45 minutes if the worship leader is as gifted in his/her part as the communicator is in his/her. Most worship services always seem too short. (This can be divided with the teaching time in the middle.)

I know the early church was a very strong community, but I can't picture them enduring our kind of announcements. "Next week is a potluck lunch, A-M bring loaves, N-Z bring fish."

chopstickschan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chopstickschan said...

Squirrel--yeah, but I think you had some extra sunflower seeds today :) Congregational calisthenics, eh? I did Anglican aerobics growing up.

greglong said...

To conserve time, just do what some pastors do and make your announcements during the pastoral prayer.

"Lord, we pray your blessing upon our church potluck next Sunday after the morning service. Please help those whose last names start with A-L to remember to bring a side dish..."

Of course, some pastors also preach a mini-sermon in their pastoral prayers before the real sermon.

Jim W said...

@DJP: call me a sourpuss if you want, fact is, if a church is friendly, people don't need to be told to be friendly. And if you sat next to me, I would have already said "hello" to you-being told to say "hello" wouldn't go far if I really didn't want to be bothered. :)

Kat said...

I like a good, solid sermon - and if it's really good and gets into detailed exegesis and application, heck, I'll go the whole 90 minutes!

That being said, I do enjoy and appreciate 2 to 4 hymns (all verses), but again, if they're really substantial with theology and doctrine. I don't mind praise choruses, but confess that I regard them more as "stretching exercises" prior to the real "workout."

Announcements should be kept as brief as possible (that's what the bulletin is for, LOL!)...

Most of this is personal preference, but I do wish more pastors would teach through the Bible carefully and systematically. One of my previous pastors, who I loved and respected, mostly spoke topically and I never felt like I really *learned* anything...

Anyway, just my $0.02!

Marie said...

The sermon should be pre-eminent, because, according to the Regulative Principle, in the OT, the main part of the worship was the sacrifice. In the NT, the main part should be the preaching of the sacrifice. (exits to applause.)

DJP said...


My commenters bring their own sound-effects.

Tim Bushong said...

Paul said:

"There is a principle that Mark Hanson's laid out which is often called Covenant Renewal Worship, with which I agree. Order is important. Attitude is important. Timing is less so."

That's us- "low-church and liturgical" in the best sense of the word. We started doing this about 3 years ago (with teen-aged children in tow, mind you) and we heard nary a "but dad- where's the rock band?" from anyone. Not to say that you can't have a meaningful Lord's Day service otherwise, but it is a refreshing and reverent. And "relevant"...

Our 90-minute looks like:

Call to Worship

Opening Hymn

Corporate Confession of Sin

Hymn of response

Apostle's/Nicene Creed

Catechism (1689, Westminster, or Heidelberg)

Sung Psalm

OT Reading
NT Reading

Congregational Prayer

Sermon (usually 40-45 minutes)


Lord's Supper


Gloria Patri (with hands waaay up in the air)


All in the span of 90 minutes.

Jugulum said...


Yes... Mine usually involve whoopie cushions, zip-zwoom noises, and "wah wah waaaaahhhhh" effects.

Hmm... The Pyromaniacs could really use an automatic sound effect for any time someone makes a corny joke. But it might wear out quickly.

DJP said...

"Commissioning" — what's that?


"wah wah waaaaahhhhh" is one of the greats.

The Squirrel said...

I often hear rimshots after Turk's comments...



gospelandgrace said...

If I may throw my 2 pennies at this:

First the principle: The Word is central (1 Tim 4:13).

Second principle: contrary to popular "Christian Urban Legend" Music is not "worship" as opposed to "other things".

The Primary Purpose is to hear from God via his word and to exalt God via music (psalms, hymns and spiritual songs Eph. 5:19).

That being put forth here what I think is a way to use the 90 minutes:

Announcements (5 min max. otherwise refer to a bulletin or website)

Worship via music ( 15 - 20 minutes using a combination of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs)
The selections should be connected to the passage of the day or themed to an attribute of God.

Worship by the Word (50 - 60 min)

Worship by Thanksgiving (10 Min)
This is hymns/psalms/songs of celebration and thankfulness at hearing from God.

Ed said...

oh I got this one... how long should the sermon be? as long as it takes for the pastor to exposite the selected scripture.

TAR said...

Amen Ed !!

DJP said...

One of the best on sermon-length is (ba pa ta daaa) Spurgeon:

"A man with a great deal of well-prepared material will probably not exceed forty minutes; when he has less to say he will go on for fifty minutes, and when he has absolutely nothing he will need an hour to say it in" (found thanks to Exploring the Mind & Heart of the Prince of Preachers, collected by Kerry James Allen.)

Steve Scott said...

Well, considering what I believe Hebrews 10:24-25 says...

considering how to stimulate one another to love, to good deeds and encouraging one another are the given reasons for not forsaking the assembling together, I think that participation from the entire body in interacting with one another should be a primary focus. Give it, say, at least 30 minutes. So...

30 min. to "one anothers"
5 min. to Scripture reading
10 min. to prayer
15 min. to singing
20 min. (a good 20 min.) to preaching/message
10 min. to Lord's Supper (which is part of a fellowship meal)
1.5 hours to fellowship meal

Okay, I just couldn't do it in 90 minutes, trying as hard as I could.

DJP said...

Thirty minutes of chit-chat...er, meaningful chit-chat... and twenty of opening and declaring the Word by the person God appointed and charged to do so?

The Squirrel said...

"20 min. (a good 20 min.) to preaching/message"

20 minutes, Steve? That's barely a devotional for the DAR luncheon!



Steve Scott said...


Sure, why not. The message could go for longer than 20 min., though. Just not during football season.

Yes, the 30 min. of meaningful chit-chat could actually be edification, exhortation, encouragement. Maybe demonstrated by an elder and his example could actually be followed by everybody else. As an alternative, a committee chairman could take this on in a Yahoo group?

I'm trying to take part in a brawl, so my comment plus about 4 reactions will help the...oh, Dan, you should have put up a thermometer toward your goal of 200. :) Okay, I'm being half serious, half funny.

DJP said...

Oh, I like that. A thermometer! I clearly didn't think this through!


Paula said...

OK, it's 11:15 EST and we're only at 161 comments. I'm going to have to activate the launch sequence.

What is the announcement/singing/preaching ratio or Mark Driscoll's church?

DJP said...

...and how does it intersect with N. T. Wright's blither about justification?

DJP said...

BTW, on the Lord's Supper:

I've never been in a church that celebrated it weekly. It is hard to think that it wouldn't become rote, at least to many.

But then again, I do think you can make a good case that the apostolic church did it weekly.

But on the third hand, the early church met in houses. We don't take that as prescriptive. In the absence of any verse ordering churches to partake weekly, do we have warrant for elevating it from the descriptive to the prescriptive?

And as to baptism, by immersion of professed converts to Christ only — was that part of a church service? Could hardly be, could it? They didn't exactly have baptistries in the apostolic churches.


Paula said...

DJP said, And as to baptism, by immersion of professed converts to Christ only — was that part of a church service? Could hardly be, could it? They didn't exactly have baptistries in the apostolic churches

Never thought about that. But if you follow the line of reasoning, new converts were baptized immediately and it was usually somewhere out there, not in the church. Seeker sensitive folks take note.

Rachael Starke said...

"It is hard to think that it wouldn't become rote, at least to many."

My dear husband fought and won this battle (to have the Lord's Supper celebrated weekly) as an elder at our former church. Whenever he heard that argument, Dan, he used to pointedly reply,

"You mean, like the preaching? We do that every week."


As the preaching continued to go south, the fact that we celebrated the Lord's Supper weekly was the one thing that kept me from making up reasons why I needed to stay home. It was often the only spiritual food I got.

Now, at our new church, where the preaching is marvellous and we celebrate communion once a month or so, and my husband is part of the mens' council (under the elders and involved in the monthly meetings),

he's threatening to start muttering 1 Cor. 11:26 under his breath at each meeting. :)

Rachael Starke said...

And I couldn't comment before now because I was out most of the day, but I was tracking the comments. So a huge shout out and "AMEN" to all those who took note of the longsuffering Sunday School teachers.

My husband and I have the mixed blessing of teaching 20 first through third graders at the third service. Up to this point, our ministry has been exclusively focussed at adults. So, week after week, we basked in our pastor'a preaching with nary a thought to the fact that he regularly goes fifteen minutes over the end time. We could listen all day and then fellowship all night if we could.

But now, the shoe is definitely on the other foot. We love the kids, and we take our job seriously. But when we plan for an hour and twenty minutes of work and fun, and we start getting close to an hour and forty, those last empty twenty minutes with these dear children are brutal. As in, totally choking the blessing and making us really certain we won't want to sign up next summer.

Mesa Mike said...

More than 5/6ths of the way there.

Solameanie said...

Jim W...

Thank you for expressing something that's nettled me for a long time. Especially in the Evangelical Free Church of America, where this practice has set in like gangrene. "Please, get up now and greet one another." No matter that the first 15 minutes has already been spent yakking with others around us before the actual service starts.

I'd feel better if someone would just get up with a jaw harp, start boinking away and say, "Swing your partner round and round, take em' to the toilet and flush em' down."

Sorry, I know that was almost Emergent-type crude, but it really does irritate me that much. It's so forced, and does very, very little for real, actual fellowship and comraderie. Who invented such nonsense?

Luke said...

Post #170
To the tune of Bob the Builder: "Can we make it, yes we can." (Only 30 more to go!)

Let me throw in my two cents worth. What's wrong with your olde Anglican prayer book service?

Wannabe Theologian said...

I like Mark B. Hanson's comments minus the announcements. I agree with the "let them read the bulletin" crowd.

I am also one of the curmudgeons who thinks that mandatory hand-shaking while the choir sings "I'm So Glad I'm a Part of the Family of God" is meaningless. It just strikes me as insincere, and does nothing to foster fellowship.

As far as the timing issue goes, if you are going to bring the truth of God's word, you can preach as long as you need to.

Paul said...

In defence of announcements: very often they can give great examples of how the church family can serve one another or how to put the the gospel into action in our lives. If done well, they too can be a form of teaching, rather than an unnecessary clunk in a well-oiled service.

That doesn't happen very often.

Word verification: "large"
Meaning: My belly.

Dorian of the cross said...

Here is my 2 cents...
-3 HYMNS... (NO shallow repetitive choruses.)
-Opening Prayer
-Welcoming visitors/announcements
-Special music, or hymn, (no shallow repetitive choruses)
-Scripture reading,responsive,if possible
-Pastor's prayer

All the above music and Readings Centered around the subject of the sermon.
(If possible within 45, minutes)

-Closing Prayer
(At least 45 minutes)

Allow extra time for Baptisms or The Lord's Supper.

(Weekly drag race to get a decent seat at Golden Corral not included in the 90 minutes)

DJP said...

Paula - Seeker sensitive folks take note.

Good and sharp point, but not just them, is it? Many evangelicals see Church as Where Evangelism Happens. They want to bring ___ to church so he can get saved. But an assembly isn't the primary place where evangelism is to take place, but rather the preaching of the Word.

Now, preach the whole Word, you'll preach the Gospel. And Paul (once)depicts the Spirit doing His work in assembly as well (1 Corinthians 14:24-25). Preach the word, and the unconverted elect will hear God speak.

But each sermon had better not be about "How to become a Christian."

DJP said...

Ohhhh, Rachael (shifts uncomfortably in chair), am I really going be get put in the position of seeming to say something critical of the Lord's Supper?

If you're going to make your husband's analogy work, you'd have to preach the same text every week, wouldn't you?

DJP said...

Well, Jim W, you've got someone whose screen name says "MEANIE" agreeing with your anti-friendliness stance.

DJP said...

Mmm. Golden Corral.

chopstickschan said...

"Scottie, we're losing steam! I need 200 comments, NOW!"

"Captain, I'm sorry, but there's just not enough anti-matter--they've all gone on summer vacation!"

"Well can't you beam in a Klingon or something?"

"I'm sorry Captain, but the Pomos got to them first, and they've all been assimilated. They're worse than Tribbles now. Resistance was futile."


"Aw, Captain, we don't need any trolls."

"Well, can't you call in Phil?"

"I'm sorry Captain, but he's in another quadrant."

"Scotty, we've got to do something before Dan is lost in the nebulae attempting another 200 comment post in the summer!"

"I'm sorry, Captain, I'm giving her all I've got, but this might be the last comment."

Will it? Will this be the end of Dan's attempt for 200? Will this Enterprise just not make it this time? If it doesn't, what will come next? Will Pyromaniacs implode? Stay tuned...

DJP said...

Yeah, maybe I was a fool to say it in summer. But as you know, over at BibChr, just say "music" and you have a 50-75 comment meta, boom. Figured 3X the readership, 3X the comments.

But you know, I can't tell you how often I've been wrong. I've put up some posts here I thought were pretty much truisms with a sprinkling of flair, and BOOM! big controversy. Others I was sure would create ripples off to Pluto, and pop! nothing.

So the rule is, I never can predict. Or shouldn't try.


stratagem said...

I don't hate music either - I am on a worship team (musician) and I'm not a teacher/preacher creature. Have been a musician all my life.
But in 99% of churches (and 100% of mega churches) we have the musicians posed up front, just as in secular entertainment venues. And in many of those churches, they are singing "worship" songs that are "contemporary Christian music," i.e., pop music that are long on philosophy and short on scripture. You can listen to that on the ever-nauseating K-Love if you want, all day long outside of church. But bring the Contemporary Christian music industry (and that's what it is, an industry) into the church and dress it up like that industry, and then tell me that we're worshiping rather than entertaining? I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, so I'm not buying that.

chopstickschan said...

I wouldn't say a fool, Dan. Nebulae are unpredictable things. Entities that sometimes take on a life of their own all of a sudden :) Or not.

I'd send you some rotten shark comfort food, but it would go bad by the time it got there (yeah, think about that...)

Have a nice day anyway, and stay clear of assimilated Klingons.

Paul said...

Someone ought to chuck in a derogatory comment about the way they do music at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Mars Hill Seattle, Covenant Life Church or Grace Community Church. That'll get the last 20 just fine.

Man, I hate the way they all plan their services ;)

VcdeChagn said...

Came in late...didn't read but about 50 comments, but decided to help you get closer to 200.

45-60 minute sermon since it is what saves (if it's truly preaching of the Gospel, otherwise you might as well play solitaire on your iPhone).

the rest of the stuff can take up the other 30-45 minutes.

Our sermon was 52 minutes last week, and was pretty good. I helped with the post-processing of the audio because the regular sound guy was busy...so I happened to know exactly how long it was.

DJP said...

...you might as well play solitaire on your iPhone

Don't tempt me, Frodo!

chopstickschan said...


"Aye, Captain, there's a little life left in the old girl yet. We just might make it..."

Strat, we were in a service once where the closing hymn was "Over the Rainbow". Really.

The Squirrel said...

"I am also one of the curmudgeons who thinks that mandatory hand-shaking while the choir sings "I'm So Glad I'm a Part of the Family of God" is meaningless. It just strikes me as insincere, and does nothing to foster fellowship."

And when you consider that, in addition to the late comers, the main reason that the service does not start on time is because everyone is chatting and talking when they should be preparing their hearts to worship.

"Now, get off of my lawn!"


(My final comment... I've done my part +)

DJP said...

I understand that in Tom Chantry's church they're all instructed to turn and hug the five closest people.

NoLongerBlind said...

Not to be a grumbler and a complainer, but, in our church, where the Word is definitely well-preached, (75 min. service, ~45 min. sermon at the end of service, BTW) we start with two hymns while seated!, then, we're instructed to "stand and greet one another in the Lord" while the musicians switch from seated brass section to standing praise band playing guitars, bass and drums.

Then we sing 3 "praise" songs while standing. Makes me feel like the hymns have been relegated to 2nd-class status.....

Note to self: I'm not in charge; it's not about my likes or dislikes....

Jugulum said...

"...you might as well play solitaire on your iPhone"

That's terrible!

I only play games on my iPhone at Church if I'm in the bathroom.

Honestly. Some people.

DJP said...

I can say honestly that, so far, I have not played one game on my iPhone.

I actually hope never to. I'm not altogether above games, but (A) I've seen the obsessed and it really turns me off; and (B) "a man's got to know his limitations."

(Name the sage.)

Tim Bushong said...

Dan asked:

""Commissioning" — what's that?"

Commissioning- verb; the act of giving someone a Commission: "To choose (someone) to do a piece of work, or to have (a piece of work) done"

So, it's like "now that you've heard the Word, communed with Christ and with one another, now GO and do mighty works in His kingdom for His glory!"

It's an exhortation to everyone in the worship service- an encouragement- to be the Church and to always be prepared to give an answer, with gentleness and respect.

Regarding your comment about the weekly practice of the Lord's Supper, I don't think that the "same sermon" analogy is accurate. It has more to do with what your theology of communion is in the first place, and then you can compare it to anything else that the church practices weekly, like singing hymns, confession of sins, confession of faith, and yes- the sermon. It's all part and parcel of the service itself.

IOW, if there isn't some amount of teaching on the Supper, and people see it as just one more delay before they can go home, then yes- it's tacked-on and superfluous and would be a bore.

Hope that's helpful!

VcdeChagn said...

I only play games on my iPhone at Church if I'm in the bathroom.

So YOU are the guy who gets up in the middle of the sermon to go to the bathroom

Shame! :)

Dan, I WAS one of those guys. I won't take it off topic (for long) but a GOOD game was one that I "invested" 40-60 hours to play. True classics took 100+ hours of "my" time. Sigh....

VcdeChagn said...

Oh, and Clint Eastwood...forgot the quote.

Jugulum said...

*peeks at Google for quote*

Sorry, that was before my time.

Point about games taken... But I must say I'm still awed by the fact that the entire game of Myst made it onto the iPhone. That's just cool.

Jugulum said...

"I only play games on my iPhone at Church if I'm in the bathroom.

So YOU are the guy who gets up in the middle of the sermon to go to the bathroom

Almost. I get up in the middle of the service to get some more coffee.

But like I said before... We have announcements in the middle of the service. :)

DJP said...

Sorry, that was before my time.

Nice try at deflecting from the whole addiction-thing.


Actually, nicely shot. However, I do understand that these ancient epics are still available in some archival form.

Chad V. said...

Almost..... at..... 200...... Must..... try...... harder.......

DJP said...

Perhaps they should just text the announcements. All the smart-phoners would get it. The rest probably aren't doing any of the heavy lifting anyway.

Jugulum said...

Who will do the honors?

NoLongerBlind said...

Ta Daaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 246   Newer› Newest»