This guide provides each potential Worship Time leader with help in understanding the purpose and importance of the time given to worship each week. It explains how the worship experience in a home church leads the congregation, individually and as a group, to consider God's plan and will for each week's scriptures and theme. It also suggests effective ways to conclude the meeting so that worship is carried forth into the homes and lives of the congregation during the week.
Shared leadership guides the entire HCO model for a home church in Bible study and worship. A person may choose to lead any of the parts of the service. That person will want to include others as the service moves from opening with the Gathering Time, through the interactive Bible Study, and finally the Worship Time and the conclusion of the service.
The Worship Time calls the church to consider what God desires of the church and of individuals in regard to the theme and scriptures focused on that day. And it provides an opportunity for the group to respond to God’s will.
Do not feel that your church must always conform to the suggested place of each “element” of worship. Your church knows what will make the best possible worship experience. Your group also knows when, how, and where the most effective worship will happen for the church.
The Worship Time Guide offers a pattern and content of worship that is acceptable to many evangelical churches. It helps worship to take place in the hearts of those present. It attempts to include all of the basic functions of the church—worship, proclamation, education, missions and ministry, and fellowship—and keep them in balance.
The person who volunteers to guide the Worship Time will notice that opportunities abound to include others in special readings, prayer, and singing. The time of receiving offerings and of sharing the “Ministry Moment” also call for participation. The leader may or may not feel comfortable doing everything in the Worship Time. Regardless, including others instills a more inclusive sense of worship within the group. Leading the Worship Time “solo” and without the participation of others lessens the feeling that the whole group has worshipped.
Let’s look at the design of the Worship Time:
Beginning the service:
After the Bible study and a break time, something is needed to call the people to worship. Use singing, readings, a presentation by your younger children or other things to call the people before God. The Worship Time Guide offers suggestions each week.
Your church may or may not actually “take up an offering”. Many home churches use this moment to remind the congregation that Jesus taught us that stewardship includes the sacrificial returning to the Lord of the financial blessings we each receive from God. Always provide a basket in a conspicuous location so that people can give to the work of the Kingdom of God. If you do receive offerings, allow children to help by “passing the plate or basket”.
This provides an excellent opportunity for another person to prepare beforehand the outward reaching focus which you want to create. Help your church to keep their focus in ministry beyond themselves with this opportunity each week. Think of ministries taking place in your community, nation, and around the world. Also present, or better yet have another person prepare and present questions or suggestions regarding missionary and ministry opportunities which are not being done at this time. Missionary organizations with multiple prayer concern websites and phone connections, downloadable audio comments by missionaries serving around the world, and other things—abound on the Internet and on the phone. Today, with good phone speakers available on cordless phones, you can access such prayer-lines and share them with your church as a “real-time” experience.
Each week you will discover a suggested message designed to call yourself and your congregation to God’s will regarding the theme and scriptures that you have studied. You may wish to simply read the Sharing Guide. However, the Guide usually follows a simple outlined form. As you gain experience, you may choose to change the illustrations to better fit the needs of your congregation. Later, you may want to only use the outline or concepts and develop your own content as God’s Holy Spirit leads you to do.
Call to Commitment:
At the end of the Sharing Guide, a simple statement will summarize the goal of the study and ask the congregation, individually and as a group to consider God’s will and purpose for them regarding what you have studied, sung, and prayed. This moment should be the most important in the service. It is the responsibility of the Worship Time Leader to guide the congregation through this brief but important time.
Concluding the Service:
The congregation should conclude each worship opportunity with a way to leave while knowing and feeling God’s presence and power in their lives as they seek His will each day of the week to come. Use the conclusion suggested in the Guide or, even better, choose one especially pertinent to your church.
Choose from a variety of methods to conclude the service:
1. Scriptural benedictions (Often listed in hymnals. Paul ends many of his letters with appropriate ones for your church. Many others are found throughout the Bible.)
2. Upbeat hymns or praise songs.
3. Quotes from The Psalms praising God for His majesty and glory.
4. Meaningful quotes from Christian hymns, poems, etc.
5. Prayer—by a group member, the leader, or read responsively.
6. A written and meaningful blessing (benediction) on the congregation.