Occasionally we like order. We need it on the road to ensure safety, the trains need it to govern that they arrive at the correct platforms. We seek it in daily life and so seek justice when order is contravened.

But what about in church?

We have been looking at order of service’s recently at College. How do you write them to convey which part of the service you are in, allowing people to follow the progress of that service – how near to the end of the service are they! Go on, haven’t we all wanted to know that at times?

At a recent service I decided not to include a hymn – consternation ensued. It was on the printed order of service and so….


Notice how each part of the service shown to the right is identifiable. It is one gleaned from Google (1).

Everyone knows type of hymn we are going to sing. New members even know when they might be welcomed. We even know when to turn to our neighbour and greet them with radical hospitality! How ordered is that!

Do you feel constrained?

I do. Do you think that God may do as well?

I have just been to another service where there were no printed order of service. The minister welcomed people to the church at the start of the service, mentioned one or two pertinent notices, reminded us in prayer about our failings and that God redeems us through the Cross, and then the music started. After one song/hymn a lady was thanked for all her wonderful service over 30+ years to the church and the congregation prayed for her. The music group started up yet again and interspersed prayers between the worship songs. Then the youth pastor – I am sure they are like policemen and have begun to start to look even younger these days – preached on the ascension of Christ. As they finished the minister stepped up and spoke of the key points from the prayers and the message received that night. The service ended with a blessing. Ninety minutes had passed in the blink of an eye…and no order of service was required.

At no point was there an order of service. No one, in the congregation, was aware of what was coming next. As it was our first service there we weren’t even sure when the service was due to end! It was great.

God was not limited by time nor extent.

If the Spirit moved people individually or the church as a whole it was permitted that opportunity. The aspects of the service, no doubt planned, were allowed to flow as they needed to do. It was so refreshing.

How does this impact in our lives?

Perhaps don’t constrain God. We sang tonight “I surrender all to you”.

I wonder if we, individually, could surrender all to God we would allow the Spirit to flow in all our lives.

If we as a church would surrender the service to God we would allow the Spirit to be in every part of the service, amending and altering it as needed, like a river flowing down a fast gully. It can at times when necessary carve out a new channel: rejuvenation is the name of the process with rivers I believe.

Perhaps it is time we relaxed our hold on the order of our service and allowed God to rejuvenate us and our services in Church.

What do you think?


(1) Other search engines do exist, no really they do….

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