Vol.X No.XI Pg.5
January 1974


Robert F. Turner

Have you the nerve to try and imagine how you would plan and conduct a worship service if you had only the New Testament as your guide, and had never known any form of so-called Christian worship? I dare you to consider it, seriously. We are so accustomed to certain ways of doing things that our ways are practically considered as Bible, and we shock easily when we see differences.

Consider these differences noted in Australia. (Taken from many places with no universal consistency apparent nor particular issue made.

men meet to themselves just before services to pray, and decide who shall do what. Someone presides at a small table at the front, and directs the service. (Asked Why? they said, How else can we have order?) No obvious song leader; he is seated and simply starts the song which the one presiding has announced. Frequently the song leader will read the first verse of song before singing. A long velvet bag is placed on table, and saints may place contribution in the bag before or after service. (No passing of bag during service.) Old and New Testament passages are posted, so all may follow as these are read— by two different men.

Much time and effort given to the Lords Supper. Sometimes six to eight minutes given to scripture reading and explanation re. the bread; then a like time given to fruit of the vine. In one place all saints are asked to come to stand about the table for the comments, prayer, and communion. The bread is passed, and each breaks a piece, but holds it, and only partakes when the one presiding does so. Thus, all take at once. So also with the fruit of the vine. In one place a large container (with tiny lip) was placed among the individual cups. The thanks were offered, then the one who was to pass the element turned his back to people, poured contents into the individual containers, and then passed them to worshipers. (I noted a few used the large container, so concluded this was a compromise on the one cup idea.) The Lords Day morning service is regarded as worship while evening service is gospel service. (I was told that there had been times when some would use the piano at gospel service, but not at worship service.)

The song leader, NOT the preacher, must tell people to sing. (I closed a gospel sermon by asking all to sing the invitation song — and not a soul stood or it was a simple misunderstanding, but embarrassing to me and to them.) Following sermon any one may question the preacher — and some of these sessions last nearly an hour. And there must be no TV football or roasts to burn. Following morning service members often are reseated and sit quietly visiting and discussing the sermon, etc.

Now, are these differences? From the way we do it — yes; but there is little problem for those who have no desire to bind customs as law. I have no desire for difference just to be different, and realize that many of these things come from British background and customs but say, ARE OUR CUSTOMS MORE BIBLE THAN THESE?