In the past, differences in the way churches worshipped were not as numerous and pronounced as they are now. People no longer know what to expect when they attend a new church. Here we explain what happens during our services. We warmly invite you to attend any of our places of worship.
For our underlying views on worship, see Why We Worship This Way. Our services are simple in form and reverent in nature. They are primarily to worship God, and also intended for the spiritual and eternal benefit of all who attend.
Below are outlines of the order of service that you can expect when attending a Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland congregation. Believing in Scriptural uniformity,[link needed] the same order is followed by all our congregations throughout the world.
Details are given below for:
Lord’s Day service
(morning and evening)
Time: The whole service usually lasts around 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Praise: The whole congregation sings from a metrical translation of the Psalms of Scripture. The singing is led by the human voice of a precentor rather than any musical instrument. Three psalms or portions of psalms are sung, and the congregation remains seated to sing. In English-speaking congregations, the metrical version used is the so-called Scottish Psalter, which in 1650 was approved by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and appointed to be used in worship.
Prayer: The congregation stands while the minister leads in prayer. This posture reflects the approved practice of the Scriptures in relation to public prayer (Mark 11:25). See Standing for Prayer.
Bible Reading: There is at least one reading from the Bible in each service, in order to hear the Word of God and understand more fully what will be expounded in the sermon. In English-speaking congregations readings are from the Authorised (King James) Version of the Bible, which we believe to be the most accurate translation in the English language.
Sermon: Christian worship should emphasise sound biblical teaching. The sermon is the longest part of the service, in which a passage from the Bible is explained and applied. Ministers are not always available to take every service. Usually ruling elders will take their place, and worship will be conducted in a similar manner. Sometimes the elder will read a minister’s printed sermon rather than give his own address.
Benediction: The service closes with the benediction, when words similar to 2 Corinthians 13:14 are pronounced. The congregation stands for the benediction.
Midweek prayer meetings
These are structured similarly to the Lord’s Day service, except that they are shorter and the minister will ask male members to pray.
The Lord’s Supper
If you are visiting with us on an occasion when the Lord’s Supper is being administered, (usually on a Lord’s Day morning), the service will begin according to the usual order of service as outlined above. After the sermon and the third singing of praise, the service will be extended as follows:
- Fencing the Table
- Praise – usually Psalm 116, while the elements of bread and wine are placed on the Table by the elders
- Praise – usually Psalm 116, while the communicants go forward and sit at the Table
- Bible Reading – the words of institution in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29
- Address to the communicants at the Table
- Partaking of the bread and wine
- Address to the communicants at the Table
- Praise – usually Psalm 103, while the communicants leave the Table and resume their places in the congregation
- Address to all (this is not always done)
Time: The Communion service can last up to an hour or more than an ordinary service.
Public worship: Although only the Lord’s people may sit at the Table, the administration of the Lord’s Supper is part of public worship, so it is usual for the whole congregation to remain throughout the whole service. No one is required to leave the building.
Fencing the Table: The minister will invite and encourage those who have a right to come to the Table, by giving marks of grace, to encourage the Lord’s people to keep in remembrance their Saviour’s death. Solemnly, and in the name of the Head of the Church, he will debar the rest, who have no right to sit at the Table, by giving appropriate descriptions of those who are not the people of God, who could not benefit by coming to the Table. Click on the link for more on Fencing the Table.
Communicants going to the Table: Please note that only those who have been previously admitted by the Kirk Session (the minister and elders) and have been given a token can sit at the Lord’s Table. Follow this link for further explanation of this Scriptural practice. The Free Presbyterian Church does not have a “closed communion” policy; nevertheless access to the Table must be restricted according to Scripture, as the link shows.
Communion Seasons: Beginning on the previous Thursday, preparatory services precede the Lord’s Day on which the Lord’s Supper is dispensed. A thanksgiving service (or services) follows on Monday.
Headcoverings: Scripture clearly teaches (in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16) that during public worship women and girls are to wear suitable headcoverings, and that men and boys are to keep their heads uncovered. This practice is followed throughout the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland.
Rev Keith M Watkins