How balance in worship may be attained

Here are some suggestions how balance may be attained between the four elements of worship, that is, preaching, prayer, singing of Psalms, and reading of Scripture.

The four basic elements of public worship should be so integrated that they form one beautiful and organic whole, one element leading naturally and logically to another, so that at the end of the service, the congregation may know that they have been in the presence of the Triune God and have been blessed by him.

The preacher, together with the elders, should organize the meetings in such a way that the focus of attention may be God, not man; and that meditation of the people may be helped assisted, everything must be conducive to the greater declarative glory of God.

A local church, under the leadership of Jesus Christ and the guidance of Holy Scripture, has the obligation to formulate its services without any one element blocking out the other three. In saying so I should make it clear, though, that the preaching of the Word should be the climax of the whole service.

The eldership should avoid singing a number of Psalms, sandwiched in between other items. I think it appropriate, after a call to worship, for the congregation (without a choir) to sing and extol God, then a chapter from the Old Testament, read with understanding in the hearing of all, leading to prayer (not concentrating on only one aspect, such as intercession, but including also thanksgiving, praise, confession of sin, and supplication). God speaks to us in Scripture, we address him in prayer, and this relationship reaches its culminating point in the sermon, for as the Belgic Confession says, the Preaching of the Word of God is the Word of God.

Whereas the reading of Scripture is to be cultivated and recommended (since it is commanded in Scripture itself), the sermon is the Word expounded, and comes with conviction; the congregation learns how to handle the Word, how to absorb and hide it in their hearts, since it is applied to their particular needs. The preaching of the Word is emphasised in Scripture and should be given prime importance. The church of God exists and grows and is nourished by the Word. What a solemn responsibility for the people to hear and the preacher to see that he is giving sound doctrine that cannot be censured, with meekness, in love and faith.

Maintaining a balance does not mean giving equal time between the four elements; rather integrating them together and giving weight to each according to Scriptural analogy.