Early Adventist worship was simple, informal, and vigorously nonliturgical. When the first church Manual was adopted, reluctantly, in 1883, it made no mention how regular worship services should be conducted. It did, however, lay down some guidelines for the “ordinances of the Lord’s house,” meaning the Lord’s Supper and the accompanying foot-washing service. Indeed, the earliest mention of an order of service for Adventist churches appears to be in a book published in 1906 by a prominent Colorado pastor, H. M. J. Richards.
Adventist worship from the beginning followed a simple format, marked in its earlier stages by enthusiastic outbursts and an emphasis on singing. Worship was not a distinctive emphasis of the Adventist tradition, and its worship patterns were adapted from other movements, with one major exception: most Adventists meet for worship on the seventh rather than the first day of the week.
Gospel song is prominent in the music of Adventist churches. However, the range of music used spans the centuries from traditional masterpieces to contemporary choruses. Churches rely on a variety of instruments, from large pipe organs to electronic synthesizers. The other arts are not generally used in worship, but among a few leading churches banners, hangings, and drama have been introduced.