GCI: The Weekly Worship Service

I. Overview

This is a suggested order for the weekly worship service of the congregation. GCI does not require a particular order of worship that all congregations must follow, because each congregation worships within its own cultural context. However, GCI does require certain basic elements that are useful and necessary in the worship life of our community. These include the following:

  • GCI congregational worship should communicate the love, freedom, and joy of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  • It should be Trinitarian in its language and expression.
  • It should be centered on Jesus Christ.
  • It should normally include praise, prayer, music, Scripture, sermon, confession and assurance of forgiveness, an offering, and Communion.

The content of these basic elements will reflect the season of the Christian calendar.

Administration and sequence of these elements may vary depending on the needs and preferences of the congregation. Most of these will be present every time the congregation worships, and some may occasionally take a different form. These elements shape the basic structure of the Church’s worship.

II. Suggested Order of Service

A.    Call to Worship: A hymn of praise and an opening prayer.

B.     Congregational Recitation (optional): The congregation may recite a scriptural passage or a creed as a statement of faith.

C.     Welcome and Announcements: Greet the congregation, draw attention to the announcement bulletin, and update the congregation on necessary issues.

D.    Intercession: Intercessory prayer should be brief, mentioning the names of those who have requested prayer and, only if also requested, a short phrase describing the need.

E.     Confession and acceptance of forgiveness: Acknowledgment that we have sinned and thanksgiving that we are already forgiven in Christ.

F.      Congregational Songs: A selection of psalms, hymns, and/or spiritual songs.

G.    Special Services (as needed): Anointing, baptism, blessing of a child, commissioning of a ministry leader, installation of a new pastor, receiving a new member, ordination, mission or ministry report, etc.

H.    Offering: The offerings are received and brought forward before the congregation. Appropriate music may accompany the offering. A prayer of thanksgiving may follow. (Sometimes this is done after the sermon.)

I.       Special Music (optional): Instrumental, singing, recitation, or dance.

J.       Scripture Reading: A passage of Scripture relating to the sermon is read.

K.    Sermon: A 30 to 45-minute sermon based on a passage of Scripture is given; a brief prayer may conclude the sermon.

L.     Communion: Each congregation is free to determine how often it will offer Communion, whether quarterly, monthly or weekly.

M.   Closing hymn (optional).

N.    Benediction: A final prayer of blessing.

III. Comments

A.    Music

The number of songs depends on the length of each song, the worship culture of the congregation, and the time allotted for music as established by the pastor. Keep in mind that excessive volume inhibits worship, so care should be taken to ensure that volume does not exceed a sustained level above 75 decibels. Songs should be selected that are conducive for group singing. Performed music may not ordinarily fit into this category. One or two performed songs may be used.

B.     Congregational Response

The congregational response to the worship in reciting a scripture or a creed may come after the call to worship or after the sermon. Creedal statements are present in the Bible (e.g. 1 Cor. 15:3-5), as are hymns that have been used as creedal statements (Phil. 2:5-11), and this form of response to the Ministry of the Word goes back to the earliest worship of the church. The Nicene Creed and the Apostles’ Creed focus the worshippers’ attention on the key elements of our faith: God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Jesus is fully God and fully Man; What happened to Jesus changed humanity, bringing about our inclusion in his life and his relationship with the Father and the Spirit.

C.     Prayer

Prayers should be short. For biblical examples, see Philippians 4:6Colossians 4:21 Timothy 2:1, and James 5:16. Longer prayers should be reserved for private settings or for the private prayer opportunity which may be offered during Communion.

Confession is a time for a general prayer acknowledging our fallen humanity and what God has done to deliver us from it. It is not a time to list specific sins of individuals. Confession and Assurance of Forgiveness is a time to express thanksgiving for the forgiveness we have in Jesus. Some pastors prefer to incorporate this in the prayer of thanksgiving and blessing during Communion, rather than making it a separate element of the service.

D.    Offerings

From the earliest days the church has recognized the practical necessity of having offerings during worship to accomplish its mission during the week. Paul gave such instruction to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. The offering as an act of worship had its roots in the Temple worship of Israel and has continued to be the practice of the church in most times and places.

E.     Sermon

Most sermons should consist of teaching and preaching about an aspect of the gospel, using the words of Scripture (Acts 17:2-31 Timothy 4:13).

F.      Communion

Communion is a participation in the death and resurrection of our Lord, who shed his blood on the cross and rose from the dead so that our sinful nature might be put to death in his death and raised up to holiness and eternal life in his resurrection. Whenever we celebrate Communion, we partake of the bread and the cup in remembrance of our Savior, proclaiming his death until he comes.

See the Communion Service for details on how to conduct this part of the worship service.

G.    Benediction

 A final prayer of blessing may be taken from a scripture such as 2 Corinthians 13:14 or Numbers 6:24-26.

IV. Creeds and Example Prayers:

The Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy, all-embracing and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

(Translation based on The Book of Common Prayer, 1979 and taken from the Grace Communion International Statement of Beliefs.)

The Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy all-embracing Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

(Translation based on I Believe by Alister McGrath, Downer’s Grove, Il.: InterVarsity Press, 1997 and taken from the Grace Communion International Statement of Beliefs.)

A short creed:

We believe in God the Holy Trinity:

The Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

His Son, Jesus Christ, truly God and truly man, our adoption and salvation.

The Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life.

And we believe in the Church, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Intercessory Prayer

Example prayer:

Father, we pray that we might all serve you faithfully.
We pray for all our church leaders that they might be faithful ministers of your Word.
We pray for the leaders of the nations of the world that they might be catalysts for justice and peace.
Have mercy on those who suffer from grief or trouble and bring your peace and blessing to them.
We now bring to you our own needs and the needs of others, especially (name those who have requested prayer).
(Optional: you may give a minute or two for the congregation to pray silently.)

Conclude with an appropriate verse of Scripture or by saying, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.”

After the intercessory prayer, the Lord’s Prayer or another biblical prayer may be offered by an individual or prayed together by the congregation:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Confession and Assurance of Forgiveness

Example Prayer:

Our Father in heaven, we confess that we do not always think and act like you want us to. We are often out of step with your Spirit, and our sins hurt us and those we love. Thank you, Father, for forgiving us in and through your Son Jesus Christ. Help us, Holy Spirit, to  be transformed to become more like the people you have already declared us to be. It is in and through you, Lord Jesus, that we pray, giving glory to you and our Father and the Holy Spirit, forever, Amen.

Offering of the Gifts of the People:

Example Prayer:

Our Father in heaven, we thank you for all the gifts and blessings you have given us through your Son Jesus Christ. Thank you for our adoption as your children in Jesus. Thank you for the forgiveness of sin and eternal life that we have in him. We offer these gifts from our lives up to you, in and through the life of Jesus, and pray that the Holy Spirit might lead us in using these gifts wisely according to your will. May our gifts empower the preaching of the gospel and bless those who are in need. We pray all things in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Special Services

From time to time the Worship of the Church will include special services such as Anointing, Baptism, Blessing of a Child, Commissioning of a Ministry Leader, Installation of a New Pastor, Receiving a New Member, or Ordination.

When such a service is to take place, it may be included after the offering and just before Communion.

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