Worship – liturgical and informal

Worship is any act that shows devotion to or love for God. Christians worship in many ways, including prayer, reading from the Holy Bible, attending the Eucharist and singing religious songs.

For many Christians, worshipping together as a community is very important. This is because Jesus said:

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For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.Matthew 18:20

Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday, so Christians keep this day as the Sabbath, which many think of as a day to rest and be with family. Most churches have their main services of worship on a Sunday morning.

As well as worshipping with others at church, Christians can worship privately anywhere.

Liturgical worship

Liturgical worship follows set prayers and readings that can be found in printed books. Christians often join together in church as a congregation to participate in liturgical worship. They may sing hymns, pray and recite set responses to readings.

In liturgical services, Christians may feel connected to the traditions of their church through taking part in these ceremonies, which may have been the same for many years. Roman Catholic, Church of England and Orthodox Christians worship in this way.

Non-liturgical worship

Non-liturgical worship is informal, with less structure. The different parts of the service can be changed for special events. For example, the sermon can be the main part of the service. Prayers can be in the service leader’s own words and may be totally unscripted, rather than being read from a book.

Informal worship

Informal worship focuses on the adoration of God and can take place outside a church. Informal worship services often attract hundreds of people and may be held in large auditoriums. The music used during informal worship is popular and modern in style, and often involves instruments.

Charismatic worship

Charismatic worship is a kind of informal worship practised by Christians who believe that the Holy Spirit is with them when they pray. Although charismatic services have some formal features, such as prayers and readings, they are very free-flowing services.

The Gospel of John points to the importance of the Holy Spirit in Christian worship: God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Following this teaching, worshippers at charismatic services often believe that the Holy Spirit is present, guiding what happens and allowing them to carry out God’s wishes.

Evangelical Christians worship in this style and often clap and shout during services. Members of the congregation worship God with their whole bodies, not just their minds. Christians who practise charismatic worship believe that God sets them free and is like a parent figure:

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The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, Father.Romans 8:15

Quaker worship

Members of the Society of Friends denomination of Christianity are also known as Quakers. Quakers worship together in meeting houses instead of churches. Meetings last an hour and have no set hymns, prayers or sermons. Everyone sits in a circle to worship as equals – there is no leader.

Quakers spend most of their meetings in silence, using the time to connect with God. However, one of the worshippers might voice a thought for everyone to think about, for example: “How are you involved in the work of reconciliation between individuals, groups and nations?” If someone wants to stand up and speak, either in response to the thought or on wider topics, they are free to do so. This is called giving ministry.

A day in the life of a young Quaker, Ceredwin

Question

What is worship?

Any act that shows devotion to or love for God.