The church year provides a ready-made pattern for worship. The key seasons are Advent and Easter, which not only mark important events in the life of our Lord, but also inform the church’s responses to these events in outward and inward worship. In addition, the church year puts the congregation in tune with a great body of Christian tradition that stretches across the world and back through the centuries.
Modern options for worship range from fixed liturgical practice at one end to “free church” liberty at the other. The directory approach, common among Presbyterians, falls in the middle. Modern directories are adaptations of the original directory of the church of Scotland (first published in 1645). In recent years many Presbyterian denominations have adopted new directories with the intent of using them to reform and renew worship. A directory not only guides worship, but also is useful as a teaching tool for pastors, leaders, and members.
Because worship is a drama involving all the people, planning should involve not only the ministers, but also (and perhaps especially) the laity.
Long-range and short-range planning are essential to worship services characterized by strength, order, and beauty. Pastors and church musicians are responsible for planning, but participation in music during worship should include adult and children’s choirs and the congregation singing hymns, psalms, and anthems together.