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Worship leaders, could I ask your advice?  I would like to learn how churches begin their worship services.  Do worship leaders typically begin with a call to worship, opening word, reading, song, etc. that points to the transcendence of God as a foundation for understanding God's immanence?  Do you have any suggestions or resources which could help?

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The Worship Sourcebook is an excellent guide with a variety of worship elements for any genre of worship.  We typically mix it up according to the mood/tone of the service, as to what/how we start worship.  Sometimes we sing a "gathering song" or we begin with a prayer, or we begin with scripture, call to worship,  etc.  But the overall idea is that we set the tone/mood/theme of the service based on what we use to begin the service.  I'm not in favor of the "johnny Carson" monolog of announcements, etc.  An invitation, yes, but not a monolog of unnecessary announcements of game scores, etc.    

I'm working on designing a survey to learn about what a large number of churches are doing.  Any ideas for how to set up such a survey?

Maybe you can connect with the folks at Worship Leader - they may have a blog or an opportunity to post the question on their website - www.worshipleader.com. Otherwise I'm not sure how to connect with a large number of churches.  I suppose you could find churches' in various cities that you are interested in, and contact them through their website with 1 or 2 easy questions.

As for my current church - it is more on the traditional side, and there is usually an instrumental prelude before the service starts, then the pastor gives a greeting and we sing the first song or hymn.

In my former church, we had a more blended or convergent style of worship service - and the Praise Team would open the service by leading the congregation in 1-3 songs that would help us center our minds and hearts in an attitude of worship (such as Come, Now Is the Time To Worship, O Worship the King, Here I Am to Worship, etc). Then the pastor would do a greeting from God, the people would greet each other, and more songs of praise and adoration would be sung.

 

It seems to me that since God is the center of worship, and we can't worship God without the help of God the Holy Spirit, we should begin with a prayer, often called the Invocation. 

A good example comes from the Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, so that we may truly love you
and worthily praise your holy name; through our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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