The Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship

Source: The Complete Library of Christian Worship, Robert E. Webber, General Editor

Charismatic Aspects of Worship

Worship in the Pentecostal and charismatic churches has been characterized by certain features that distinguish it from the worship of other Christian communities. These distinctive aspects of charismatic worship are, in greater or lesser degree, related to the "baptism" or "filling" of the Holy Spirit, which these churches have sought to recover in its scriptural dimension.

  1. Spirit Baptism In the New Testament
  2. Use of the Vocal Gifts In Corporate Worship (Biblical)
  3. Other Spiritual Gifts Associated with Worship (Biblical)
  4. Laying On of Hands (Biblical)
  5. Anointing With Oil (Biblical)
  6. Slain In the Spirit, "Falling Under the Power (Biblical)
  7. Deliverance from Demons (Biblical)
  8. Worship as Spiritual Warfare (Biblical)
  9. Speaking In Tongues (Biblical)

Acts of Entrance In Traditional Worship

Over the centuries, traditional acts of worship have developed in the various liturgies of the Eastern and Western churches, many of them of ancient origin. These actions fall into one or more of the movements of Christian celebration: the gathering of the community and entrance into the place of worship, the service of the Word of God, the service of the table of the Lord, and the dismissal.


  1. Processional (Biblical)
  2. Call to Worship (Biblical)
  3. Silence (Siblical)
  4. Invocation (Biblical)
  5. Doxology, "Gloria (Biblical)

Service of the Word

As explained in the next five entries, the worship of New Testament Christians began its evolution into the historic liturgies of the church and the order of worship became differentiated into two major segments: the service of the Word and the service of the Lord's Table.


  1. Scripture Reading In the Early Church (Biblical)
  2. Sermon (Homily) (Biblical)
  3. Creed (Affirmation of Faith) Biblical)
  4. Prayers of Intercession (Biblical)
  5. Confession of Sin (Biblical)

The Lord's Supper (Eucharist)

When Jesus ate with his disciples in the upper room on the night of his arrest, he instituted the ceremony that has become the basic act of distinctively Christian worship: the Lord's Supper, known also as the Eucharist, or Holy Communion. This central Christian rite is rich in theological symbolism; as an outward action signifying a spiritual reality, it has a sacramental character (whether or not it is termed a sacrament by those who observe it). It is an ordinance of Christ, an act of worship the church performs in obedience to his express command. In the early church, the Lord's Supper usually took place in the context of a community meal. The next six entries expand these themes.


  1. The Breaking of Bread (Biblical)
  2. The Lord’s Supper, Part 1 (Biblical)
  3. The Lord's Supper, Part 2 (Biblical)
  4. Eucharist In Scripture (Biblical)
  5. The Lord’s Supper as Covenant Meal (Biblical)
  6. Passover and the Lord’s Supper (Biblical)
  7. The Love Feast (Agapē) (Biblical)

Other Sacred Actions In Worship

Although the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper, has always been the most distinctive sacred or sacramental act of Christian worship, the historic church has found certain other events of worship to be especially symbolic of spiritual realities. These actions, as reviewed in the next seven entries, are "sacramental" in that they serve as windows into the unseen aspects of the relationship between God and the people of God. They have their foundations in the experience, the understanding, and the practice of the New Testament church; in some cases they are "ordinances" of Jesus, symbolic actions he himself performed and commended to his disciples. The rites of baptism, confirmation, foot washing, anointing with oil, ordination, and marriage all have this sacramental or symbolic quality for Christian worshipers.


  1. Baptism In Scripture (Biblical)
  2. Confirmation In Scripture (Biblical)
  3. The Rite of Foot Washing (Biblical)
  4. Sacramental Anointing (Biblical)
  5. Ordination In The New Testament
  6. Christian Marriage (Biblical)
  7. Reconciliation and Priesthood (Biblical)

Service of the Lord's Table

Ancient Christian worship was based on the celebration of the Lord's Supper; the service of the Word was followed by the service of the Lord's Table. Participation in the rites of the Lord's Supper was limited to baptized believers; those still receiving instruction as new converts to the faith were dismissed following the service of the Word. The eucharistic liturgies of the historic denominations include a variety of acts of the Lord's Table deriving from ancient practice and ultimately from scriptural precedent. The discussion in these five entries is confined to those major actions likely to be found in the traditional worship of many churches.


  1. The Exchange of Peace (Biblical)
  2. The Great Thanksgiving (Biblical)
  3. The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father) (Biblical)
  4. Acts of Receiving (Biblical)
  5. Benediction (Blessing) (Biblical)