The elements for leading gatherings

important first words any guests here. These could begin with a few words from scripture, or a "grace, mercy and peace..." from one of Paul's letters. But in many contexts within the UK a simply "welcome" is more natural, followed by an explanation of who you are, and how the service works for the sake of newcomers.

Opening doxology or call to worship.
These remind the congregation of God's character and work as the reason for their praise, or hearing his call to come and worship him. These verses could be read to begin the welcome or to begin the prayer of invocation.

Prayer of invocation.
The doxology or call to worship might be included in or followed by a "prayer of invocation" that praises God as creator and redeemer, acknowledges we come close only by his grace in Christ, and that asks him to be at work in our hearts so that all we do is acceptable to him and edifying to us. The invocation may also include a prayer of confession for sin if one isn't included later. Although examples are given in the link above, I would recommend prayerfully scripting an entire prayer of invocation tailored to your service so that it rightly sets the context for it.

The Lord's Prayer.
In speaking of “daily” bread, Jesus implies this is a prayer to be said every day. And it has been said in corporate gatherings ever since the first century. It could open the service as something familiar to guests, and be followed by the "prayer of invocation.” It could structure the intercessions, or conclude them. Alternatively, it could come near the end of the service as a way of committing oneselves to the Lord for the coming week.

Trustworthy sayings.
Found in the NT, these seem to have been an early form of declaration. They might be used on occasion at any point in a service where they bring home a truth being considered.

Corporate confession has biblical precedent both in Nehemiah's day (Nehemiah 8-9) and in the Lord's Prayer that daily asks "forgive us our sins". It commonly contains three aspects.

1. The introduction.
These are words said by the leader or taken from the Bible that help the hearer reflect on how they have sinned and their need of God's mercy.
2. The prayer.
Prayers that have common usage throughout the historical church can be helpful for continuity, and using only a small variety of prayers useful for people getting to know and truly feel the import of their words. A prayer could be crafted from pertinent Bible verses.
3. The assurance.
Bible verses can be used to affirm that all who truly repent can be confident of God's forgiveness.

General prayers.
Paul writes to Timothy about the importance of intercessions. These could be drafted in a way that elaborates on the phrases of the Lord's Prayer, or prays in decreasing circles for the world, the nation, the church and one's particular church. I've attached some written prayers that might on occasion prove useful. We shouldn't think including such set prayers is somehow less spiritual. After all, songs and hymns are scripted and so set. However, if they are old prayers it is important the language is updated so that they are understood.

Prayers around the sermon.
A "prayer for illumination" is commonly said before the readings and sermon asking the Lord to open and enlighten hearts and minds. Following the sermon an extended prayer, praying its sentiments home is appropriate by the preacher - especially if a lay person has led the intercessions.

The NT commands the singing of "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs." Psalms are difficult to sing with modern arrangements, but where possible it is good to include them as they are God's own worship book and cover topics and emotions other songs rarely cover. Otherwise, the best songs that are singable, reflect biblical truth, and that bring home the logic of the service should be chosen.

Scriptural songs.
Alongside the psalms, which might be sung, there are other scriptural songs of rich gospel truth that it is a shame for the church not to be edified by. They could be said by the leader, by the congregation, or by both antiphonally. The gloria is included as in God's providence it has had much prominence in church history and still does within the universal church.

Open response.
This is a period when the congregation are encouraged to speak out pertinent Bible verses, or prayers of praise or intercession that the Holy Spirit might bring to mind. This flows most naturally from a song, interview, Bible reading or sermon. It is possible during this time that someone might speak out in tongues. The leader should ask if anyone has an interpretation, and if not, move on. Alternatively, someone might state God has told them something for the church. We think any prophecy would usually come via some visionary experience. But whatever moves someone to speak, the leader should encourage the congregation to weigh what is said, and ask the elders if they want to comment. As elders our conviction is that God may still grant the supernatural gifts described in the NT, but because their outpouring was a particular way of crediting the apostles as founders of the church, we cannot necessarily expect them to be as prevalent today as they were then.

These are an important sign of God's life at work in the church. The best place for them is when all adults are in so they are not missed, and in a way that doesn't disrupt the flow of engagement with God. We find placing them before prayers helpful as they can then be prayed for.

Hebrews 10v24-25 calls us to "encourage one-another." The interview can be a great help in this. As people share what the Lord has taught them or done for them, or how they are seeking to work out their faith, the congregation are challenged and instructed by their example. If people are given warning a time of open sharing could be included. But usually interviews need planning so that the interviewee can prepare what they say and make the most of the time. It is best to keep interviews short if there is a lot included in the rest of the service. The interviewee could be prayed for by the person leading the intercessions.

Other items.
These might include a video that brings home one aspect of the service, a performed song, a poem, a quality drama, a famous set prayer or collect, or something else. Silence is a fantastic way to help people focus on God and give space for private prayer. The key thing is that each item enhances rather than detracts from the worship and bringing home of God's truth.

Creeds or affirmations of faith.
These can be used whenever the theme warrants it, bringing home the faith as the reason for the gathering, for assurance after confessing sin, as an expression of strengthened faith after the sermon etc. The danger with having one too often is that it becomes rote. However, we always have one before communion to stress the faith that unites us with Christ and each other.

These are in some sense more devotional declarations of faith. Like the creed they could be used in any context that fits, but we always include one before communion as a way of acknowledging the presence of Christ by his Spirit, and our fellowship with all who are his in heaven and earth.

Closing doxologies or blessings.
These are summary prayers that relate to the theme of the service and conclude it with a sense of praise toward God and of leaving to serve him in response. A verse could be sued on its own or said to end a spontaneous final prayer applying what's been considered. A prayer for God's blessing is called the "benediction."

The Lord's Supper.
This generally has up to five elements.

1. Explanation and warning.
Explanation is given as to who should partake and how they might do it. But warning may also be given that those who are not truly repentant should not receive because this could be to eat and drink judgment upon themselves. We usually follow this with the saying of a Creed or affirmation of faith from scripture as a way of affirming the faith that unites us with Christ and his people, and an acclamation from the book of Revelation as a way of acknowledging we worship alongside all in heaven, and in the supper have a foretaste of the coming kingdom.

2. Words of institution.
Take from Jesus or Paul these remind us that communion is instituted by Christ and that we take and eat at his command.

3. Prayer of thanksgiving.
Just as Jesus gave thanks, so the minister gives thanks for the bread and wine, together with all they symbolise, also praying that the congregation would come rightly and benefit accordingly. Although sample prayers are included, this is best prayerfully scripted in the light of the service theme.

4. Words of invitation.
These may be said to exhort believers with weak consciences not to stay away, but to come on the promise of grace, and take and eat through faith.

5. Post communion prayer.
This is a prayer of response, thanking God for his grace received through faith, and praying people would respond
by living for him. As the service usually ends that way, this is more optional and could come as part of the final prayer of the service. Alternatively the Lord’s Prayer could be said as the post-communion prayer.