Examples of a worship order

April 15, 2010 - By 

Preparing for worship in church music ministry is essential. Part of that preparation involves developing a service order, or order of worship. Your worship order is a means of communication to those who are involved in your church’s services.

Someone recently asked me to provide examples of our worship order at Mikado Baptist Church. Below you’ll find a couple of examples from this last Easter Sunday. First, it’s important to know that we don’t have a corner on the market. In fact, our service orders are merely an equivalent to an accumulation to the numerous service orders that I’ve seen over the years. We just assimilate from the best; and I’d encourage you to do the same.

Further, our service order works best for us, but it’s not for everyone. I have a worship pastor friend who develops a continued theme for each service. While we—in a general sense—strive to maintain a connection throughout each song service, that level of organization wouldn’t work for us because of the high level of flexibility needed on the part of the participants. (We have chosen rather to select and organize our music months in advance, which often limits our ability to have themed services. We do, however, plan themed special services at least once a month.)

Each service order is copied onto a half sheet of paper, with the morning services (identical) on the front side, and the evening service on the reverse side. Here’s a copy of Easter Sunday morning’s worship order:

service order

Notice a few things: The date and specific service are clearly indicated below the church’s logo to stand out for easy identification. For special days (like Easter), I include a title at the top. I always try to keep things consistent, and since the majority of the morning service was choir & orchestra songs, I just provided their titles in bold and italics. The people who were involved (and who this worship order was for) knew what this meant. The sound technicians can easily identify places where they need to have the piano featured (the offertory), where a soloist needs a microphone, and when the congregation is singing.

Here’s Sunday evening’s worship order:

service order

This worship order is the most common in our church. Notice a few things: Since our lyrics are projected on the screens, I provide the stanzas following each congregational song we sing. I often provide more stanzas than we might actually sing, just in case I need to shorten the service a little. I use arrow bullets to set off special things during the service (i.e. announcements, mission spotlights, etc.). Many of the songs we sing are not in our hymnal, so obviously we do not provide a hymn number for them (as in “In Christ Alone”). Notice also that the letters “kc” are between the last two stanzas. This refers to “key change.” The instrumentalists will understand this and play an arranged key change that they have.

General observations: Be sure to provide plenty of margin space and spacing between each line. This is helpful in allowing our pastoral staff members and others involved in the service to jot down notes that pertain to the service, or that they would like to discuss or evaluate later. Also, there’s a balance between doing what works, and getting in a rut. If you sense that there is a rut in your worship, you may want to first reevaluate your worship order. Finally, always work towards a clean, consistent look. Consider fonts, font sizes and attributes, and line spacing when developing your order. Microsoft Word is a great help here. (I use 13 point Cambria font with a 10 point spacing after each line.)

There you have it. Now I would like to see your ideas. How can I improve these worship orders?

  • Hi James,

    I like your layout of the the service order page and I appreciate the care in how you place things.
    I was wondering if you find the announcements in the middle (PM) breaks up the flow, or is this advantageous for you? I noticed that in the AM you started with announcements.

    Something we do during an offertory is project the words of the songs that are played by our pianists so that they are a bit more focused and the message of the song is not lost because people forgot the words to the 2nd stanza.

    Do you let the message of the songs speak for themselves, or do you take time to verbally piece the flow together for people as you transition between songs, that is when you have theme service?


  • Wow, John. You bring up an incredibly good amount of points.

    Announcements: Our “worship flow” can quite often be broken up, whether it’s because of a missionary presentation, or a Reformer’s Unanimous recognition, or a School of Bible certification, or teen mission trip or camp testimonies, or… well, you get the point. So, inserting a few announcements (especially emphasizing a few important ones) usually isn’t abrupt or out of the norm. (Of course, never “read” the bulletin… but that’s for another post.)

    Easter Sunday morning we didn’t really start with announcements. It was more of a welcome to our church, here’s what we’re doing, we want to welcome you, please fill out a guest card, etc. It was more geared to the unchurched and poorly churched. (Full color bulletins were printed to get the important announcements out.)

    Project words: We have done this quite a bit for choral and ensemble songs, and always get numerous positive responses. We’ve done some lyrics during instrumental, but several challenges stand in the way of making it a regular feature: 1) it’s nice to have someone musical operating the slides (though, I’ve nodded my head from the platform to cue the guys before), and 2) there’s a lot of prep work involved (though it’s worth it). We certainly do this during Lord’s Table Services or other themed services. I think it’s a great thing to do!

    Transitions between songs: I suppose this depends on a lot of factors (a pastor’s input, your experience and/or willingness to develop the ability, etc.). In particular, my pastor likes the verbal transitions, and so we do that. We rarely just let songs speak for themselves (except those right before the sermon), though I have been in ministries where this was the norm.

  • Thanks for taking the time to answer my question! God Bless!

  • James, I believe that the Scriptures are central to our worship of Christ, and while music is vital, preaching is THE MAIN THING 🙂

    Not too long ago, it was my very SAD experience to sit in what may be considered a ‘flagship’ church in our conservative, independent Baptist movement and observe the traditional service order played out:

    Congregational song and opening prayer
    More congregational singing
    Announcements and offertory
    Special music, 1 or 2 numbers

    After a 30-40 minute buildup, when this gifted and capable pastor came to the pulpit, there was audibly a collective ‘SIGH’ from the congregation–what??? Preaching the word of God is the MAIN thing. Of course, it’s not the only thing…indeed, I consider the offering part of our worship. In fact, when the congregational singing and special music are completed, the worship doesn’t end–it CONTINUES.

    What can we do to help create anticipation rather than apathy toward the preaching of God’s word in our services? I propose the following:

    Congregational song
    Opening prayer by member or guest
    Congregational songs in succession
    Special music

    Try it for a month and see if it doesn’t allow a smoother transition into the sermon, thereby being anticipatory.

    Jokingly, new people often remark on the ‘freshness’ of the service, including impact by the sermon, and I say “that’s the way we normally do it; and, this way if you don’t like the sermon you don’t have to ‘pay for it’!” ha.

  • Hey! Thanks, Troy!

    I agree with you… preaching IS the main thing. Excellent suggestions!

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