Time Limits for corporate Worship?

By Jonathan Jones
October 13, 2022

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As a worship leader, I have often struggled with the question of timing or length of the service. I am sure I am not alone in that. How long is too long? Likewise, how short is too short? The answers would vary from one end of the spectrum to the other. There are those who believe that the spoken word is the most important part of the service; therefore, they could do without music at all. There are also those who might consider putting a numerical value on the length of time spent in corporate worship, whether it be a half hour, an hour, or two hours. Anything beyond that might be overkill in some opinions. As futile as it may seem though, this is a vastly important issue. It is paramount that worship leaders read their congregation in order to establish this and figure it out. With this in mind, there are some important things I would like to point out regarding timing in corporate worship.

There Is an Appropriate Length of Time for Corporate Worship

Many might say that it is impossible for a corporate worship service to be too long because God is worthy of all we have and so much more. As a worship leader, I would love to take this position, but I simply cannot. There indeed is an appropriate length of time for corporate worship. We cannot assume that our congregation has nothing more to do but sing, pray, and listen. People have children and jobs, and indeed they have lives outside of the walls of our church, which we must respect. Certainly the people in our churches desire to be moved by God and hear from him. They are also called, however, to live godly lives where they have been placed: namely in the world. We must consider this as we prepare our services each week. Worship can indeed be too long or too short. There is a happy medium between lengthy and short worship. Keep in mind that lengthy worship can be spiritually shallow just as much as short worship can be spiritually deep. There are moments when we should perhaps worship longer than average and times when we should cut things short. Figuring out that medium is our job as worship leaders.

Time Varies Depending on the Congregation

What then is the length of time that is appropriate? This varies depending on the congregation. There are many factors involved here. Certainly the spiritual maturity of the congregation matters. A congregation hungry for the moving of God might perhaps be more ready for lengthier worship. At the same time, it might be beneficial to shorten a worship service. This all depends on the congregation. We as worship leaders are called to minister to our congregations, and it is our job to figure out where our people are and what they are ready for.

Worship Leaders Must Read Their Congregation in Order to Determine the Appropriate Length of Time

One of the most critical aspects to our job as worship leaders is reading the congregation. This is valuable in determining what length a worship service should be. As I already mentioned, the length of worship varies from congregation to congregation. We are responsible then for measuring where our congregation is and responding accordingly.

Be Prepared for Change

One of the most valuable things we can do as worship leaders is to be prepared for change, particularly change led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our ultimate guide for corporate worship. When he says to continue worshiping, we must listen, and likewise, when he says to stop, we must do so as well. One of the most important tools we can utilize in hearing from the Holy Spirit is our congregation because people are indeed the tool by which we measure what to do. It is certainly possible that a worship leader might desire to worship as long as possible while the congregation could be weary and not ready emotionally or spiritually for such. It is also possible that the Holy Spirit could prompt a worship leader to lengthen or shorten a service. We must be prepared for change no matter what form it comes in but particularly as the Holy Spirit directs us.

We must keep these things in mind as we seek to lead people in worship. We cannot be deceived by thinking that there is no such thing as an appropriate length for corporate worship. There certainly is, and it is our job to figure out what that happy medium is.

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