Guide to a Typical Christian Worship Service

Worship Service
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If you've never been to a worship service in a Christian church, you are probably feeling a little apprehensive about what you will encounter. This resource will walk you through some of the most common elements you're likely to experience. Keep in mind that every church is different. Customs and practices differ widely, even within the same denomination

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How Long Is a Typical Worship Service?

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The typical length of time for a church service is anywhere from one to two hours. Many churches have multiple worship services, including Saturday evening, Sunday morning and Sunday evening services. It's a good idea to call ahead to confirm service times.

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Praise and Worship

Praise and Worship

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Most worship services begin with a time of praise and singing worship songs. Some churches open with one or two songs, while others participate in an hour of worship. Twenty to thirty minutes is typical for most churches. During this time, a choir arrangement or a particular song from a solo artist or guest singer may be featured.

The purpose of praise and worship is to exalt God by focusing on him. Worshipers express love, gratitude, and thankfulness to God for all He has done. When we worship the Lord, we remove our eyes from our own problems. As we recognize the greatness of God, we are lifted up and encouraged in the process.

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Worship Service Greeting
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The greeting is a time when worshipers are invited to meet and greet one another. Some churches have an extended time of greeting when members walk around and chat with one another. More typically, this is a brief time for greeting the people directly around you. Often new visitors are welcomed during the greeting.

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Worship Service Offering

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Most worship services include a time when worshipers can give an offering. The receiving of gifts, tithes, and offerings is another practice that can differ widely from church to church.

Some churches pass around an "offering plate" or "offering basket," while others ask you to bring your offering forward to the altar as an act of worship. Still, others make no mention of the offering, allowing members to give their gifts and contributions privately and discreetly. Written information is usually provided to explain where offering boxes are located.

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Communion Bread and Wine
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Some churches observe Communion every Sunday, while others only hold Communion at determined times throughout the year. Communion, or the Lord's Table, is most often practiced just before, just after, or during the message. Some denominations will have Communion during praise and worship. Churches that don’t follow a structured liturgy will often vary the time for Communion.

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The Message

Worship service
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A portion of the worship service is dedicated to the pronouncement of the Word of God. Some churches call this the sermon, the preaching, the teaching, or the homily. Some ministers follow very structured outlines without variance, while others feel more comfortable speaking from a free-flowing outline.

The purpose of the message is to give instruction in the Word of God with the goal of making it applicable to worshipers in their daily lives. The time frame for the message can vary depending on the church and the speaker, from 15 to 20 minutes on the short side to one hour on the long side.

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Altar Call

Altar Call

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Not all Christian churches observe a formal altar call, but it is common enough to make mention of the practice. This is a time when the speaker gives the members of the congregation an opportunity to respond to the message.

For example, if the message focused on being a godly example to your children, the speaker may ask parents to make a commitment to strive toward certain goals. A message about salvation may be followed by an opportunity for people to publicly declare their decision to follow Christ. Sometimes the response can be expressed with a raised hand or a discreet look toward the speaker. Other times the speaker will ask worshipers to come forward to the altar. Often a private, silent prayer is also encouraged.

Although a response to a message is not always necessary, it can often help solidify a commitment to change.

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Prayer for Needs

Praying for needs
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Many Christian churches like to offer an opportunity for people to receive prayer for their specific needs. Prayer time is typically at the end of a service, or even after the service has concluded.

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Closing of the Worship Service

Pastor preaching
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Lastly, most church services end with a closing song or prayer.

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Your Citation
Fairchild, Mary. "Guide to a Typical Christian Worship Service." Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, Fairchild, Mary. (2020, August 27). Guide to a Typical Christian Worship Service. Retrieved from Fairchild, Mary. "Guide to a Typical Christian Worship Service." Learn Religions. (accessed March 20, 2023).