WORSHIP & #SundayChurchHack: When worship leaders begin a service, they can be feeling a sense of uncomfortableness, even stage fright. As they open in prayer, it’s often not very focused. Instead have another church leader prepare to pray in the spirit of Psalm 8, 40, 145, or 146.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel, 2/6/22. 

While observing hundreds, if not thousands, of worship services I’ve noticed that the beginning of the service sets a tone and direction for what follows. Sometimes called the opening prayer or the call to worship, it is often the worship leader who utters this. But, I’ve noticed that many times they seem less than focused and even nervous when doing so. This may be the result of working on the music more than on the words with which they’ll to utter to launch the service. This is especially true in non-liturgical churches where the worship leader often begins the service from the platform by offering a prayer. It is this prayer that I have found to be less than focused on a recurring basis.

Subsequently, it’s may be better for church leaders and/or worship leaders to designate someone else to deliver the opening prayer. The opening prayer should be a joyous entrance into worship. It should be uplifting, heavenly focused and inspire exhalation.  

Inspiration can come from psalms such as Psalm 80, 40, 145 and 146 (see below). Even if the opening prayer is pre-written and/or in a liturgical format, the person delivering the prayer can meditate upon such psalms before hand. This can put them in the right frame of mind to deliver a biblical call to worship.

The psalmist says:

“LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” – Psalm 8:9

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him.” – Psalm 40:3

LITURGY & Episcopalian ministry among millenials: When worship works.

by Jason Evans [Episcopal Diocese of Washington] 5/8/15.

…Almost every Sunday, I visit a different parish within our Diocese. Most of the time, I meet at least one or two young people who have found their way into the Episcopal tradition. Each time, I make it a point to talk with them about what brought them to their church. Whenever I listen to their stories a sense of hope rises up within me…

In his book, You Lost Me, David Kinnaman writes that there is a “43 percent drop-off between the teen and early adult years in terms of church engagement.” The Pew Research Center reported that more than 25 percent of millennials were unaffiliated with a faith community. This is enough to concern any rector or vestry member. But it isn’t a complete picture of what is happening amongst emerging adults. The National Study of Youth & Religion tracked the religious transitions of young people over a five-year period. Sociologist Christian Smith wrote in his book Souls in Transition that the study found mainline Protestants were “… relatively good at attracting new emerging adults who grew up in other religious traditions–good enough, in fact, to hold their own over these five years in terms of overall ‘market share.’”

Referring to anyone as a “market share” makes my skin crawl a bit. But you get his point–enough emerging adults are finding their way into the Episcopal Church to abate what would otherwise be a steeper decline. So, what are we doing right? In order to answer, I thought we should ask some of those I’ve met in our Diocese.

I met Dongbo Wang, a young scientist, a few months ago. He is a member of Church of the Redeemer in Bethesda, MD. Dongbo did not grow up Episcopalian. But he clearly remembers the first time he walked into an Episcopal parish while in graduate school. “When I walked through those doors, I thought to myself, this is what church is supposed to feel like,” he told me during our conversation. “It was something I couldn’t analyze as a scientist. It was something that felt right–I felt connected. The year before I had visited more than 20 churches and never felt that.”

Like Dongbo, Tiffany Koebel is a young adult who did not grow up Episcopalian. Today, she is a member of All Saints in Chevy Chase, MD. For Tiffany, the Episcopal Church provided a consistent, reliable religious culture that countered what Tiffany referred to as, “a culture constantly fixated on the ‘next big thing.’” She discovered more of a depth of theology in the liturgy during one worship service at All Saints than she had experienced in years attending churches of other traditions. “I was struck by the richness of the liturgy,” she shares, “and the central role of Scripture in the service.”

Read more at … https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/article/ministry-among-millenials-when-worship-works

And for more innovative ways some Episcopal churches are reaching out see this article … Church Has No Walls But Many Doors Accessible to Seekers.


WORSHIP ORDER & The Best Celebration Order to Grow a Church

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2/4/15.

After almost 30 years consulting, I have noticed that growing churches have a similar and very concise worship order.

This is the worship order (i.e. liturgy) I have observed in growing churches:

10:30 – 10:35, welcome and announcements

10:35 – 10:55, 20 minutes of uninterrupted worship

10:55 – 10:57, pastor comes onto the platform and asks people to pass the offering.

There is no prayer, no special music, no video bumper, just the offering being passed while the sermon begins.

10:57 – 11:17 sermon with two (maximum) take-away points

11:17 – 11:20 closing prayer

11:20 – 11:40 empty and refilling of the auditorium for another service.


> A 50 minute service is the most common length for growing churches.

> The hourly times are approximate.

> 10:30 AM on Sunday appears in my observations to be the time when most unchurched people still have available to attend church.

> These times are replicated regardless of what day and/or time the service starts: 8, 8:30, 9:00 AM, 5, 5:30, 6 PM, etc.

But, you get the idea regarding how fast-paced and concise the worship services are in growing churches that I have observed.