Biblical and Early Church Models of the Confession of Sin

In traditional Christian worship, acts of confession of sin may appear in the acts of entrance, the service of the Word, or at the Lord’s Table in association with the prayer of thanksgiving. In the worship of the contemporary liturgical renewal, the confession of sin usually occurs after the prayers of intercession, marking the transition into the service of the Lord’s Table. Prayers of confession are not usually found in the corporate worship of evangelical and charismatic churches; confession of sin is an act that usually accompanies individual conversion to Christ and personal counseling situations, rather than the life of the gathered assembly.

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Elements of New Testament Worship

Though the New Testament does not give any detailed information on the structure of the first Christian services, it leaves little room for doubt concerning the basic elements of primitive worship: prayer, praise, confession of sin, confession of faith, Scripture reading and preaching, the Lord’s Supper, and the collection. Early descriptions of Christian worship, such as that in Justin’s Apology, reveal a close similarity to the practice of the synagogue. Even without the synagogue model, however, the fundamental elements would surely have found a place, and distinctive Christian features would have their own origin.

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