Preach, then Sing

Throughout the Scriptures, worship is presented as a response to truth about God and His works. We learn of God through the Scriptures, which itself is worship, then respond with more worship as we pray and sing. The Word is to dwell richly in us, inspiring our songs (Col 3:16).

With that in mind, my friend Pastor Mark Buhr recently recommended that we alter our order of service at TCBC to include more singing after the message. I took the advice, and for two weeks we’ve “back-loaded” our singing, responding to the sermon with songs that pursue its theme. We generally start with a call to worship, prayer of preparation, and hymn, followed by Scripture reading and preaching. We then end the service with 2-3 hymns and a prayer of adoration. It’s been a great delight to us. A number of members have commented that they’ve been enabled to sing with greater understanding.

And frankly, holding a congregation’s attention with a sermon during the last 15-20 minutes of a morning service can be challenging anyway. But almost no one dozes off while they’re standing and singing. Just sayin.

I appreciate Mark’s good recommendation. I commend it to you, at least on occasion.


13 Responses

  1. Chris, We’ve been doing this since early 2004 and it has made the worship service much more meaningful to people as they sing words that connect to the message of Scripture. I’ve been in many services where the music has nothing to do with the sermon and the two parts seem to be entirely disconnected. For many years we sang hymns that were selected specifically to go with the theme of the text, but it lost that context because the sermon was preached after the singing. I’m glad to hear that this has been well-received in your church. Our church family appreciates it–and we do it every Sunday! By the way, people could argue this both ways, but I also think that this order gives priority to the Scriptures in worship.
    Mark Buhr

  2. I appreciate these words Chris, and Mark. I have been doing a lot of thinking lately regarding the order of service, but do not want to change just for change’s sake. I am all about purposeful worship involving the heart’s preparation, music, giving, and preaching/teaching. I have often thought about switching things around like this, but have not…yet. Logistics question: do either of you have a jr church/children’s church during your am service? Our children typically stay in for the song time and then are dismissed for the preaching. Any suggestions on how to make it work for our situation (I realize different opinions about jr church, but bear with us :-) )?

  3. Taigen, could you have your children’s church leaders relate their “service” to the message? Have it first and then bring the children in for the closing singing and prayer. Then the singing would relate to their message also. Just a thought.

  4. But…but fundamentalists don’t DO it that way! Never have, never will! You must be trying to bring in some “Neo” practice into the church! If we do it “your” way, how will people “prepare their hearts” for the message? This truly is an abominable development! I also noticed that in your service order there was no “special music.” And you call yourself a fundamentalist!

    (please note tongue firmly planted in cheek!) ;-)

  5. Taigen, We also have Jr. Church during the sermon. When I get up to preach, I dismiss the children for Jr. Church. When I pray at the end of the sermon, our main usher goes to get the children. They come in during the first song after the sermon. This has not presented any problems for us. It is true, however, that the children do not have the same context with the songs as those who hear the preaching. It would be difficult for me to prepare something for our Jr. Church leaders to present on the same text, since I am the only full-time staff (although that would be ideal).

  6. For what it’s worth, when I have a guest speaker, I always ask ahead of time for the text and main idea of the sermon. That way I can come up with a worship theme and we can still have meaningful worship with continuity and connection to the text.

  7. I’d suggest, along the same lines, having the offering after the message as well. If we really believe giving is worship and overflow of the heart, then our hearts may be more prepared to worship thru giving after the Word has prepared our hearts.

  8. We tried this last night. There were numerous folks who said how much they enjoyed it!

  9. Challenging concept. Well worth considering. Thanks for prodding my thinking in this area.

  10. We use this order in our children’s meetings (Wednesday night, SS, Children’s Church, VBS, etc.) due to the fact that the children are more alert and focused at the beginning and also because it gives us adequate time to counsel in another room following the invitation at the end of the message while the rest of the group continues on with singing and other things.

    In the church service this would be beneficial for adult counseling as well.

  11. Hey Chris (and Mark)
    We did the reversal this past Sunday. It went well logistically, and I believe was received well. Might make a habit of it, who knows…

  12. Thanks for the post Chris. I have been giving more thought to topics like this as we plan to start a new church soon.
    I recently enjoyed preaching at our music camp. We actually sang during the sermon. The message was on worshipping Christ as Creator, Saviour and King (taken from the three larger worship passages in Revelation). After I preached on each aspect we “paused the sermon” and sang a song that worships God for that aspect. It was the first time I have tried such an approach, but I would definitely do it again. It believe that it helped internallize the message and singing the idea that was just preached seemed to energize the singers and make the worship more heartfelt and sincere.

  13. […] I’ve often tried to think of a way to make this work. Preach, then Sing. […]

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