Read the Order of Service

The Order of Service has served us well for decades, but I think it’s time we took a new look

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For over 50 years I have faithfully attended church. Looking back, many things have changed but one thing has remained constant.

The Order of Service.

Upon arrival, you will be handed this printed information. No matter which church you attend, it’s going to comply with some apparently unwritten guidelines. Here’s the essential ingredients in the recipe

  • Size
  • Cover
  • Order of Service
  • Announcements
  • Back Cover

I’ve seen some notable twists that are innovative

  • Tear outs – Visitor Registration and Prayer Requests
  • Devotional Guide for the upcoming week

The Order of Service has served us well for decades, but I think it’s time we took a new look. I think one reason the order of service has worked so well is that our service is so… ordered! You can almost set your clock based on the cadence of the worship service. Different churches scramble the order and tinker around the edges with content, but the ingredients are nearly always identical. Here’s how it goes at my church

  • 2 songs, followed by
  • Welcome visitors, followed by
  • 2 songs, followed by
  • prayer, followed by
  • Sermon from Pastor (with 3 or 4 main points on a general theme), followed by
  • Invitation, followed by
  • Special Music (solo, duet, or group), during which the offering is taken, followed by
  • Announcements, followed by
  • Presentation of those making decisions
  • Final wrap up by Pastor, followed by
  • Closing prayer

Sound familiar?

I’m not suggesting that we do away with the Order of Service, but it has become obsolete in many ways. We now have projectors that can display the information for all to see. We now have mobile devices that can view and download material. Once downloaded, it will remain with most of us far more than any printed material. Oddly, we use our projectors to tell people to turn off their mobile devices. I believe with all my heart that we should be directing them to use their mobile devices to engage in the service! Funny, when I go to a retail store there’s public WiFi. When I log on, my browser is automatically directed to their website. I’ve never heard of a church doing that! We could have a live chat room during the service where people could get actively engaged in the sermon – but I guess that would be considered a distraction. Instead, we make them wait until after the service to chat – I think that would be more appropriately be called gossip. If we employed these tools, we would have access to analytics, metrics, and feedback. We could measure what’s working and what’s not. We could adjust our programming towards a goal of effectiveness. Or are we afraid to know? At the end of the day, we are spending a significant amount of money printing these dinosaurs that have a very limited shelf life. That also adds up to a lot of trees.

But I must admit, you should always read the order of service. Why? Well, I remember once Sunday my wife and I walked into church and sat at our customary spot in our customary pew. My wife opened the order of service and began reading. She then asked me if I knew that I was preaching that morning. I didn’t. But there it was in black in white – I was preaching that morning!

So long as there is an order of service – you may want to take a look – after all, you might be on it somewhere!


That’s what I think. I’m interested in your thoughts. There’s lots of ways to hit me up so let me hear from you.

You can leave your comments below.

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Author: Mark Prasek

Christian Technologist. Find me on Twitter @DataGenesis

One thought on “Read the Order of Service”

  1. Orders of service (printed) do seem to be a waste of paper, especially if announcements are made in the service. The thing for me is that I’m so involved in the service that I often don’t have the opportunity to watch announcements flow by on the screens. So, if they aren’t made by a church member or staff member, I’ll miss them unless I read the OoS. I usually read it every week, but I guess I’m the exception to the rule. 🙂

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