How we open our services is important. We like to open services in a way that both calls people to worship and puts them at ease. It’s important to remember that many people enter our services with their guards up for any number of reasons. The more we can do to remove barriers to worship, the better.
Here is a very stereotypical welcome/open that I’ll say on any given Sunday:
Good morning and welcome to Newhope Church! We’re so glad that you are here with us today. We are going to start off by singing a couple songs together to worship our Savior. Please stand to your feet and sing with us.
This is fine, but it’s good to mix things up.
Open with scripture
A few weeks ago, we opened our service be reading stripture together. It was a refreshing change of pace, and it allowed me as the worship leader to make a more personal connection with our congregation before we began singing.
What you can say to open your service
Here is how it went:
Good morning! We are going to start things off just a bit differently today. I’d like you to stand to your feet, and if you brought a Bible with you, please open it and turn to Psalm 150. We’re going to read a whole chapter together (but don’t worry – it’s short).
‘Praise the LORD!. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD! Praise the LORD!’
We wanted to open with this passage today because it teaches us why we have reason to sing. We do not sing songs because that’s just what you do in church as a tradition. We sing because the Bible commands us to do it. We sing because we have reason to celebrate. We sing to worship a risen Savior – a Savior who gave Himself to a cross, died, and rose again that we would have life and have it abundantly. Join us today as we worship together.
A few notes
This is actually one of my favorite passages of scripture to use to illustrate to people how joyous (and LOUD) worship should be. But, opening a service is definitely not the time or place to say something like, “Look – right here in the Bible it says to use drums” (if your leadership doesn’t like drums, for example). Always use scripture to encourage people in worship – don’t use it to beat people down (let your Pastor handle stepping on people’s toes during the message, ha).
How do you open services? Have you ever changed things up from your usual routine? If so, how was it received?