Pentecostal Church Services | Three Indispensable Elements
Word, Worship, Spiritual Gifts
- Summary: The “order of service” in many churches is inflexible, routine, and often short in or even lacking the very few absolutely needed elements.
1 Corinthians 14:26, NKJV How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
- • In my years pastoring Pentecostal churches — some call them "full gospel churches" or (occasionally) "charismatic churches" — I always leaned on this bible verse to give me an overview of what the Lord wants in each church service.
- • Writing to the Spirit-filled Corinthian church, the apostle Paul spoke of five things that should “be done for edification” in the gathering of believers: “a psalm … a teaching … a tongue … a revelation … an interpretation.”
- • These five speak of three very important parts of the biblical church service:
- 1) The WORD of God (“a teaching”)
- 2) WORSHIP of God (“a psalm,” that is, musical worship)
- 3) The GIFTS of the HOLY SPIRIT (here a revelation … a tongue … an interpretation [of tongues])
The Word of God
2 Timothy 4:2a Preach the word!
1 Timothy 4:16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
- • Pastor Timothy was the lead pastor of the Ephesian church, believed by some scholars to have been the largest church congregation in the first century.
- • His spiritual “father,” the apostle Paul, exhorted him to preach the word of God. There is no substitute for God’s word in establishing a solid foundation for living in our lives.
- • Paul further charged Pastor Timothy to pay close attention to his own life and to his Scripture teaching (“doctrine”). That would have a beneficial, “saving” influence both on Timothy and on those who heard the word of the Lord preached and taught.
- • In sum, every church service should have a good portion of time allocated to the preaching or teaching of the bible, the inspired word of God.
Worship of God
Ephesians 5:18-19 …be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.
Colossians 3:16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
- • We certainly can (and should) worship God in song when all alone. But these verses refer to the gathered church singing and worshiping God with “one another” — that is, that portion of the church meeting commonly called "the worship service."
- • Notice that the preached word is also mentioned here (“the message of Christ”) along with psalms, hymns, and songs unto God from thankful, worshipful hearts. The message of Jesus Christ and salvation from Him is, of course, at the very heart of the preached word and of the church service.
- • Every church service should have a time of worshipful singing to the Lord. This is typically done early in the service, before the preaching of the word. I have found this order to be helpful, since the worship time seems to prepare our hearts to receive the preaching of the Word that follows.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit
1 Corinthians 12:1, 8-10, NKJV Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant …  for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5, NKJV And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
- • Again Paul mentions the all-important preaching of God’s word. But he said it was to be accompanied by “demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” Why? Because God does not want our faith to be in “the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” It is in the manifestation of the spiritual gifts (miracles, healings, prophecy, and the others listed above) that the preaching of God’s word is confirmed with power.
- • Paul exhorted the church to be receptive in the service to “a tongue, a revelation, an interpretation [of tongues].” These things can have a dramatic impact for the Lord on those in attendance. If you wish to read an amazing example of the power of the gifts of the Spirit to affect people for good, I encourage you to take a few minutes to read my “Two-Beer Revelation.”
- • The apostle closed his epistle to the Corinthian church with this exhortation: “Desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues” (1 Corin. 14:39). All the gifts of the Holy Spirit are as valid and needed today as they were in the first century. They typically occur during the worship time. But a wise pastor will try to stay attuned to the Spirit of God for His manifestation of the gifts at other times as well — for example, at the close of the service, or during ministry at the altar after the public service ends.
In closing, permit me to encourage you in your churches to follow this three-fold biblical pattern for church services:
- 1) Worship of God
- 2) The Word of God
- 3) Gifts of the Spirit of God
Your church gatherings will experience the presence of the Lord and the abundant life and power of the Holy Spirit. The saints will go home edified, increased in their walk with the Lord, and better equipped to participate in God’s harvest of souls throughout the world.
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©2015, 2018, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.