Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Order of Service

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on September 20, 2011 at 10:08 am

Lately when several pastors by request were sharing with one another the orders of service in their particular local congregations, we submitted ours for consideration. A moderator of this blog wished to post it more publicly and we consented.

We have not strictly followed any other church’s order of service, nor do we expect any to follow ours. We arrived at our current practice by a sincere attempt to include all and only the biblical elements of worship. We also have benefited immensely from considering the rich tradition of Protestant worship in past centuries.

Each Lord’s Day, we have two services with a fellowship lunch in-between. The two worship services are similar in content with a few significant differences evident below. Each worship service lasts an hour and a half or a little longer with the each sermon usually occupying about half that time, 45-50 minutes. The four Scripture readings (two in each service) are each followed by 5-10 minute expositions, and this keeps us in regular public contact with the wide spectrum of biblical light. We observe the Lord’s Supper weekly, near the end of the second service. We use the blue Trinity Hymnal (Baptist edition) and regularly include Psalter selections from it (inclusive psalmody). When adding new members by testimony, transfer, or baptism, we conduct this happy business just before the Prayer of Thanksgiving in the morning service.

We have been following this pattern for years and find it satisfying, but even the most carefully thought out and Scriptural order of service requires the Holy Spirit’s blessed influences for any spiritual blessing. The best of means are but means at best. May the Lord be with us all in our gatherings each Lord’s Day.

MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE

Apostolic Greeting, Call to Worship, Invocation

Scripture Reading (the Law or historical books)

Prayer of Confession

Hymn

Scripture Reading (the Gospels or Acts)

Hymn

Prayer for Illumination

Sermon

Meditation and Prayer of Intercession

Hymn

Tithes and Offerings

Prayer of Thanksgiving

AFTERNOON WORSHIP SERVICE

Call to Worship and Invocation

Scripture Reading (the Prophets or wisdom literature)

Prayer of Confession

Hymn

Scripture Reading (the Epistles or Apocalypse)

Hymn

Prayer for Illumination

Sermon

Meditation and Prayer of Intercession

Hymn

Prayer of Thanksgiving

The Lord’s Supper

Benediction

 
D. Scott Meadows, Pastor
Calvary Baptist Church (Reformed)
Exeter, New Hampshire USA
 
  1. Hello brother Scott, Greeting from Costa Rica.
    I have a doubt, how is it that your afternoon service lasts one hour and a half as well if you are including the Lord´s supper? How long does this ordinace take? We celebrate the Lord´s supper every 2 months and I think it might be because we are taking more time than it is appropriate. Would you please share here or by e-mail the way you celebrate it and how long does it take? Regards – Alexander León – peniel12@msn.com

  2. Thanks for sharing this. It’s totally Scriptural and God honoring.

  3. This sounds like a church I would go to if it were in my area. Just a couple observations/questions. First, why no assurance of pardon after the confession of sin? And second, why no benediction at the end of the first service? I love that you use the Baptist edition of the Trinity Hymnal and that you include psalms and songs. I wonder if many people know the Baptist Trinity Hymnals exist. All in all, I’m encouraged about the services you hold. Liturgy is so much more important than many Christians realize. Lastly, I’d love to know your theology of the Lord’s Supper. When you administer it in church, do you guys talk about real communion with Christ, Christ’s presence, real spiritual nourishment and participation in Christ’s body and blood? Or do you see it primarily (or only) as a memorial and proclamation? Just wondering.

  4. Dear inquirers,

    I would respond to your questions about our ministry while affirming that good brethren have different perspectives on some of these things.

    The afternoon service usually runs more nearly an hour forty-five minutes because the Lord’s Supper takes about 15 minutes. This past Lord’s Day it was regrettably almost 2 hours because I failed to curtail the sermon to 45 minutes (it was 58 minutes). As Christ really does occupy our sustained attention every Lord’s Day (we are redemptive-historically Christocentric by conviction without forsaking exhortation), the whole Lord’s Day prepares us for a devotionally-rich observance of the Lord’s Supper, and an extended “communion message” would be superfluous. Our remarks at the Table are brief and Christ-centered, with occasional comments for “fencing the table.”

    The way we observe the Lord’s Supper is fairly typical: brief devotional remarks, first prayer before distributing the bread, distribution by deacons, the appropriate words of institution from 1 Cor 11, eating together; then the second prayer before distributing the cup, distribution by deacons, the appropriate words of institution from 1 Cor 11, drinking together.

    The prayer of confession typically and deliberately includes assurance of pardon, which assurance is Scriptural, important, and traditional in Reformed worship. Assurance of pardon is just not broken out into a separate item in our order of service. Perhaps it should be in one line (i.e., Confession of Sin and Assurance of Pardon).

    There is no benediction at the end of the first service because there is the expectation that worshipers will remain together until the benediction at the end of the second service. This is by design to promote sanctification of the whole Lord’s Day in a church which has reformed from Dispensationalism. New England Christians are usually accustomed to morning-service-only attendance patterns, but over the years, the Lord has almost completely cured us of this at CBC-Exeter. We adopted the 1689 LBCF in 1999, and we are still striving to be wholly consistent with it, since we believe it is a biblical confession.

    Our theology of the Lord’s Supper includes the best insights of both Calvin and the Baptist tradition. We revel in Christ as both Host and Feast, so that we hold communion with him in the act of observance and feed upon him spiritually by faith, drawing our spiritual life and nourishment from him. Certainly the bread and the cup are true symbols of his body and blood, and we are to do this in remembrance of him—but our observance of the Lord’s Supper is not merely a memorial.

    To address any misgivings about weekly observance, I testify on behalf of our congregation that since we exchanged monthly observance for weekly several years ago, the Supper has become more important to us, not less, and I know this is the testimony of other congregations that have adopted weekly frequency.

    One more thing. Before the morning worship service we have a half-hour fellowship time and a Bible study hour led currently by one of our deacons. Thus all our services are contiguous. We gather between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., and services are over by 4 p.m. at the latest, and many linger up to an hour past that, as they love to spend this time together. Some enjoy dinners together in one another’s homes after all the services.

    9:00 am Informal Fellowship
    9:30 am Bible Study Hour
    10:45 am Morning Worship Service
    12:30 pm Fellowship Lunch
    2:00 pm Afternoon Worship Service

    This is what works well for us and we do not expect any slavish adoption by others. We sincerely appreciate your interest in our ministry.

    D. Scott Meadows, Pastor

    Calvary Baptist Church (Reformed)
    Exeter, New Hampshire

    http://cbcexeter.sermonaudio.com

  5. Dear inquirers,

    I would respond to your questions about our ministry while affirming that good brethren have different perspectives on some of these things.

    The afternoon service usually runs more nearly an hour forty-five minutes because the Lord’s Supper takes about 15 minutes. This past Lord’s Day it was regrettably almost 2 hours because I failed to curtail the sermon to 45 minutes (it was 58 minutes). As Christ really does occupy our sustained attention every Lord’s Day (we are redemptive-historically Christocentric by conviction without forsaking exhortation), the whole Lord’s Day prepares us for a devotionally-rich observance of the Lord’s Supper, and an extended “communion message” would be superfluous. Our remarks at the Table are brief and Christ-centered, with occasional comments for “fencing the table.”

    The way we observe the Lord’s Supper is fairly typical: brief devotional remarks, first prayer before distributing the bread, distribution by deacons, the appropriate words of institution from 1 Cor 11, eating together; then the second prayer before distributing the cup, distribution by deacons, the appropriate words of institution from 1 Cor 11, drinking together.

    The prayer of confession typically and deliberately includes assurance of pardon, which assurance is Scriptural, important, and traditional in Reformed worship. Assurance of pardon is just not broken out into a separate item in our order of service. Perhaps it should be in one line (i.e., Confession of Sin and Assurance of Pardon).

    There is no benediction at the end of the first service because there is the expectation that worshipers will remain together until the benediction at the end of the second service. This is by design to promote sanctification of the whole Lord’s Day in a church which has reformed from Dispensationalism. New England Christians are usually accustomed to morning-service-only attendance patterns, but over the years, the Lord has almost completely cured us of this at CBC-Exeter. We adopted the 1689 LBCF in 1999, and we are still striving to be wholly consistent with it, since we believe it is a biblical confession.

  6. Our theology of the Lord’s Supper includes the best insights of both Calvin and the Baptist tradition. We revel in Christ as both Host and Feast, so that we hold communion with him in the act of observance and feed upon him spiritually by faith, drawing our spiritual life and nourishment from him. Certainly the bread and the cup are true symbols of his body and blood, and we are to do this in remembrance of him—but our observance of the Lord’s Supper is not merely a memorial.

    To address any misgivings about weekly observance, I testify on behalf of our congregation that since we exchanged monthly observance for weekly several years ago, the Supper has become more important to us, not less, and I know this is the testimony of other congregations that have adopted weekly frequency.

    One more thing. Before the morning worship service we have a half-hour fellowship time and a Bible study hour led currently by one of our deacons. Thus all our services are contiguous. We gather between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., and services are over by 4 p.m. at the latest, and many linger up to an hour past that, as they love to spend this time together. Some enjoy dinners together in one another’s homes after all the services.

    9:00 am Informal Fellowship
    9:30 am Bible Study Hour
    10:45 am Morning Worship Service
    12:30 pm Fellowship Lunch
    2:00 pm Afternoon Worship Service

    This is what works well for us and we do not expect any slavish adoption by others. We sincerely appreciate your interest in our ministry.

    D. Scott Meadows, Pastor

    Calvary Baptist Church (Reformed)
    Exeter, New Hampshire

    http://cbcexeter.sermonaudio.com

  7. Thanks, Pastor Meadows for your follow up. I especially liked the statement
    “we are redemptive-historically Christocentric by conviction without forsaking exhortation.” This is a good conviction to have!

  8. Thanks, Pastor Waters. My response immediately above yours is only half of what I have written addressing the previous questions. Technical difficulties have hindered my posting the second half, but I hope it will be posted soon by one of the moderators.

  9. Food for thought, thank you

  10. How do your church’s kids’ handle this schedule? Seems like it might be difficult for families with small children to be there for that long without naps, etc.

  11. Benjamin, that is a good question about the little ones. We have considered a similar schedule here in Ontario, CAL, but have stayed with the more traditional SS, AM and PM worship — even though many of our people commute a long distance.

    We observe the Lord’s Table weekly — and I notice an encouraging trend — especially among newer RB churches toward this.

    We have a monthly luncheon, which for us is more like a special event and takes quite a bit of effort. Trying to do it more often seems somewhat problematic. No doubt this is easier and probably should be considered for a smaller church that fits into their facilities nicely. However, I visited a Texas church of 300+ that has a similar schedule to Pastor Meadows. I loved it. The facilities made it work. They have tremendous organizational skills and have their luncheon down to a science. They have a tremendous kitchen facility, and a great room to host their Sunday luncheon. They were also done by 3 pm.

    In today’s world — I think back-to-back is a great idea. It’s a very profitable way to spend the Lord’s Day and not squander it (and gas) by traveling (for some) a half-hour or more one way to services (if they live a half hour away — that’s 2 hours in the car — if they live 45 minutes away — that’s 3 hours!) Otherwise these commuters have to spend each Sunday as a guest at someone’s home — and that is certainly pleasant from time to time — but rather burdensome over the long haul, year after year.

  12. “How do your church’s kids’ handle this schedule? Seems like it might be difficult for families with small children to be there for that long without naps, etc.”

    Dear Benjamin,

    Yours is a good question and a legitimate concern. When Esau offered to lead Jacob’s caravan, he declined, saying, “The children are tender” or “frail” (Gen 33.13). Both natural and special revelation teach us how to care for little ones according to their capacities and needs, and we are morally obligated to do this.

    Our current schedule evolved gradually by congregational desire. We met contiguously only occasionally at first and everyone liked it so much we adopted it for our weekly pattern.

    Our Lord’s Day schedule, of course, is not theoretical. We’ve been following it for years and our congregation includes families with children who grow accustomed to the way we do things with parental nurture.

    We are reasonable in our expectations of the children. A six-year-old in a worship service cannot be expected to pay attention like a 12-year-old, but a six-year-old can be helped not to cause disturbances. We have a separate room behind the auditorium with an audio feed from the pulpit where parents can be with their children as needed if they are a little restless, and even let them take a nap. We also provide a nursery for those under four.

    The Bible Study Hour (9:30-10:30) is currently for families together, but a simultaneous and separate opportunity for instruction geared to the young could be organized without objection, if it were done right. Like Pastor Waldron (see RBF blog video before my post), I do not subscribe at all to “children’s church” during worship services. I appreciated very much his nuanced comments about these things.

    Also, since we have about an hour and a half allotted for lunch, there is enough time for everyone to go outside and take a little walk, and for the children to “blow off some steam,” if you’ll pardon the expression.

    Our faith is, at many points, countercultural, and I believe this topic of families, youth, and church is one of the places where we must challenge many popular assumptions with biblical truth. Instead of yielding to typical low expectations for youth, we should appreciate their amazing capabilities by grace, especially when they are brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

    This became powerfully evident to me years ago when I sat in a 2-hour worship service of a sister church with hundreds of people, including young children, and suffered no distractions at all. I recall a little girl of about five happened to be seated right next to me, and shortly after the service began, I forgot she was there, since she was so well-behaved. In that same church, daily family worship with catechizing was the common practice, and the evident doctrinal knowledge and spirituality of the youth astounded me. After that, I knew that low expectations for youth were generally unjustified, and my own children have been among the beneficiaries. Let us aim high, both for ourselves, and for our children.

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