The worship service in the Apostolic Christian churches reflects the brethren's special reverence for God and for Christ. A respectful attitude toward the omnipotence1 and holiness2 of God is demonstrated in many ways.
All aspects of the service are intended to draw worshippers nearer to God and to deepen human appreciation of His ways. Thus, all worship procedures (i.e., reading Scriptures, preaching, singing and praying) are intended to give God, not man, supreme recognition and to glorify His name.
The church seeks to follow the Bible's ideal in sermon presentation. The Apostle Paul was explicit in stating that he did not preach to his churches "with excellency of speech or of wisdom3" and that "my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.4" Rather, he determined to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.5 Thus, ministers are not trained at seminaries or Bible colleges. The church believes that one's faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.6 If preaching was done with wisdom of words, "the cross should be made of none effect.7"
Ministers are chosen from among the congregations and serve open-ended terms. They are men of good report, with a good understanding of and devotion to Scriptures, and are loyal in supporting the doctrines of the church. They serve without salaried compensation. More than one minister serves a church, the average being three to five.
Ministers do not ordinarily select scriptural texts or prepare sermon outlines before the worship service. Instead, ministers pray and meditate on the Word during the week. Other than for special occasions, they open the Scriptures randomly as they stand before the congregation and use these texts for their message, recognizing that God knows the needs of the congregation. The minister thus humbly depends on the Holy Spirit for inspiration, praying to be used as an instrument for the benefit and edification of the worshippers.
Singing, too, is simple, joyful and solemn in "a cappella" fashion. All music is intended to focus on God. The intent of worship is not to entertain but to edify, and to glorify God. All parishioners sing. In the sanctuary, prayer is offered to God while kneeling. This position symbolizes fallible mankind "bowing" in heart and mind before an all-powerful, merciful, and infallible God and Father. Female members wear a veiling over their head during prayer and worship according to Scriptures.8 Male members pray with their heads uncovered.9
Men and women sit separately during regular worship services. This is sometimes relaxed, however, during special occasions such as weddings and funerals. Although no Scriptures reflect this practice, both Jewish and Christian tradition do. This practice was universally observed in both faiths beginning with temple worship until the late 1800's. Separate seating during worship contributes to better "a cappella" singing, and it helps widows, widowers, and single members feel more comfortable by sitting with believers of their own gender.
During the first part of the worship service, prayer is offered by the minister conducting the service. Near the end of the service, however, any brother from the congregation may be asked to pray. It is customary to have two worship services on Sunday. After the morning worship service, a noon lunch is served, and a period of fellowship is enjoyed. Another worship service then follows.
Everyone is welcome to have lunch, including visitors. Members attend both worship services and everyone-friends and visitors-are encouraged to attend also.
Charitable contributions are not solicited by passing a collection plate. No one is pressured or should ever feel compelled to make financial contributions. Instead, when collections are taken for special purposes they are announced from the pulpit and donations are placed in "charity boxes" which are located in the church hallways. Brethren and friends give on a free will basis, as they feel led by God's Spirit.
Fellowship, while not a formal part of the worship service, is nonetheless complementary to worship. Members, when they come together for worship, greet with a holy kiss (within their own gender). This is taught five times in the New Testament.10 It is a blessing for the humble and converted heart as it is an expression of respect, love and kindness toward others in the household of faith.
1: Revelations 19:6
2: 1 Peter 1:16
3: 1 Corinthians 2:1
4: 1 Corinthians 2:4
5: 1 Corinthians 2:2
6: 1 Corinthians 2:5
7: 1 Corinthians 1:17
8: 1 Corinthians 11:5
9: 1 Corinthians 11:4, 7
10: Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14