Generally speaking, one verse of scripture does not answer all. There certainly are exceptions to that rule, and one comes in the records of the founding of the church of Christ. God has always given good instruction to the sincere follower; “good doctrine” to sustain them (Prov. 4:2). In order to establish that which is most important, God clearly stated what is required in worship using the example of early disciples. When worshiping “they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine, in fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). That is a summary sketch of church worship.

It is not insignificant that the Holy Spirit of God began with the doctrine. Right teaching is everything in the Lord’s church. The early church was dedicated to teaching the apostolic doctrine from God while the complete written word was being prepared (I Cor. 12:28). The apostles spoke the words received of God (I Cor. 15:3). From the limited commission, the apostles were told to “take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour” (Matt. 10:19). Words from the Holy Spirit of God foretold by Jesus (John 16:13) gave instruction needed. This was for a limited time until the complete “law of liberty” was come (I Cor. 13:10; James 1:25). How important is the doctrine of Christ to you? Would you be recorded as continuing steadfastly in the Word of God? It is very important to get the doctrine right (II John 9-11).

Fellowship of believers fortifies the Lord’s church. Joint participation, communion [fellowship] is found in the singing and giving of church worship (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; II Cor. 8:5; 9:7; I Cor. 16:1-2; Phil. 4:15). The church worships individually, collectively, and communicably when the whole church is come together. The two acts of worship covered in the term fellowship (Acts 2:42) are singing and giving. For these acts as the three others, purity of the worshipper is required (Jude 12). While unbelievers are not forbidden from giving or singing in the worship service, a pure connection with God and one another is the acceptable worship (Psa. 96:9).

A memorial feast is part of the worship of the church on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). This “breaking of bread”—also known as the Lord’s supper—observed every first day of the week, was unique to the church of Christ from her beginning on Pentecost and still is today. This memorial supper was instituted by Christ (Matt. 26:26-28) at the Passover supper just before His crucifixion with the focus on communion with them in the Kingdom. It is a solemn time of memorial (I Cor. 11:26) and should be respected as such. A few years ago many were greatly disturbed when some funeral homes started drive-by memorials. It was considered disrespectful, cold, and indifferent to the family and the life lived and rightly so. How much more should this be considered when considering the Lord’s memorial? This feast takes place when the church comes together (I Cor. 11:17-27). It might be worthy to consider what is worn by those presiding over this great memorial feast. The breaking of bread and the drinking of the cup, the fruit of the vine, are very important acts of worship in the church of Christ.

Finally, the early church was noted for being steadfast in prayers. The church prays together with one leading understandably so that all may say “amen.” (I Cor. 14:15-16). While one leads prayer each individual is to be engaged (James 5:13). Prayer is a very important part of church worship. When the church prays: sick are healed (James 5:13), sins forgiven (Acts 8:22; James 5:15), lives changed (James 5:16), doors opened (Col. 4:3), and requests heard by God (Phil. 4:6).

Acceptable worship was patterned and recorded by the early church for all to follow—all in one short verse recorded in the beginning of the Lord’s church.

-David Hill

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