1 Timothy 4:11-16
Certain duties are laid upon Timothy, the young leader-designate of the Church. He is to devote himself to the public reading of scripture, to the exhortation and to teaching. Here we have the pattern of the Christian Church service.
The very first description of a Church service which we possess is in the works of Justin Martyr. About the year A.D. 170 he wrote a defense of Christianity to the Roman government, and in it (Justin Martyr: First Apology, 1:67) he says, "On the day called the day of the Sun a gathering takes place of all who live in the towns or in the country in one place. The Memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits. Then the reader stops, and the reader by word of mouth impresses and urges to the imitation of these good things. Then we all stand together and send forth prayers." So then, in the pattern of any Christian service, there should be four things.
(1st) There should be the reading and exposition of scripture. Men ultimately do not gather together to hear the opinions of a preacher; they gather together to hear the word of God. The Christian service is Bible-centered.
(2nd) There should be teaching. The Bible is a difficult book, and therefore it has to be explained. Christian doctrine is not easy to understand, but a man must be able to give a reason for the hope that is in him. There is little use in exhorting a man to be a Christian if he does not know what being a Christian is. The Christian preacher has given many years of his life to gain the necessary equipment to explain the faith to others. He has been set free from the ordinary duties of life in order to think, to study and to pray that he may better expound the word of God. There can be no lasting Christian faith in any Church without a teaching ministry.
(3rd) There should be exhortation. The Christian message must always end in Christian action. Someone has said that every sermon ends with the challenge, "What about it, chum?" It is not enough to present the Christian message as something to be studied and understood; it has to be presented as something to be done. Christianity is the truth, but it is truth in action.
(4th) There should be prayer. The gathering meets in the presence of God; it thinks in the Spirit of God; it goes out in the strength of God. Neither the preaching nor the listening during the service, nor the consequent action in the world, is possible without the help of the Spirit of God.
It would do us no harm sometimes to test our modern services against the pattern of the first services of the Christian Church
Dear Father, I pray for the Holy Spirit to be present in every Church Service so that we can experience the gifts and demonstrations of the Holy Spirit. We need more than just a sermon. We need the supernatural power of God each time we meet. There will be people who need the gifts of healing, wisdom, etc. Come, Holy Spirit, and glorify God the Father with signs and miracles. Amen!