Types of Church Services: A Guide to Worship
Since the inception of the Church, Christians have gathered together to pray, to celebrate and to mourn. Daily prayer was common in the beginning, and groups of Christians would regularly meet to break bread. From these traditions came the practice of Holy Communion. Whether you attend church services during the week to pray, on Sunday to receive communion or at other points throughout the year to celebrate milestones, church services have become a time to gather, praise, pray and grow. Regardless of the type of church service, spreading the Word and growing the community remains the central focus.
Daily Prayer Services
While many people only attend church on Sunday, the doors are typically open all week long with a variety of services happening within. Daily prayer services are usually steeped in scripture and based on Biblical principles. During a daily prayer service, a member of the church may attend in the morning or evening to praise God, listen to readings from the Bible, sing and grow.
Weekday prayer services are typically less formal than Sunday Mass with fewer participants and more time for personal reflection and growth. Other weekday activities may include small group Bible studies, women's groups and courses for children.
The most popular time to attend church is on Sunday morning. Most churches use this time for their most formal types of church services. It is a time for families and neighbors to come together and listen to a sermon with the message changing on a weekly basis. Sometimes the Sunday service will tie into the season, coinciding with holidays like Easter or Christmas.
In the Catholic church, Sunday is reserved for the Eucharist. According to the Bible, Jesus shared a meal with His followers the night before He died. While eating bread and drinking wine, He instructed his disciples to continue the tradition in His remembrance. From this humble gathering, we have been given the tradition of Holy Communion. Members of the church are presented a special wafer to represent the bread that is the body of Jesus and a sip of wine to represent His blood. During Communion, recipients are called to remember Jesus' saving love. Communion usually follows a service of prayer and penitence where a passage is read from the Bible and the group reflects upon it. Mass traditions may vary from one church to another, but the presentation of a wafer and a sip of wine or grape juice are an integral part of the tradition.
In the church, holidays are a time spent together to celebrate. From Easter to Advent to Christmas, there are always celebrations happening to mark special liturgical occasions. Holiday services are usually longer and more involved than a typical Sunday service. They may include singing, acts of fellowship and other events along with a special message or sermon pertaining to the season. Christmas and Easter are the two major holidays that are celebrated in Christian churches.
In addition to traditional Sunday services, weekday prayer services and holiday celebrations, you can also attend a variety of special services throughout the year. Special services include weddings, funerals, baptisms and holiday celebrations for liturgical events like Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter. Special types of church services usually include acts of worship, music, symbolic actions and more, leading to a truly memorable occasion.
Weddings are among the more common types of special services you may attend. They usually include a religious service along with more modern wedding traditions like the bride being walked down the aisle, an exchange of vows and the couple's first kiss in marriage. Wedding services are private and only open to those invited by the bride and groom. A wedding reception typically follows a wedding service either on- or off-site.
Baptisms are another special event you may encounter. A baptism service happens when a child or adult officially enters the church. Baptism is considered a holy sacrament and is accompanied by a special type of service. Baptisms may be private for friends and families or they may happen on a monthly basis or less often during normal Sunday services. Similarly, First Communions may also happen during normal Sunday services or as part of a private celebration. A reception typically follows a baptism or First Communion and is held either on- or off-site.
Funerals are one of the more somber types of church services you may experience. They act as a final blessing for the departed and bring closure to the family. Many devout Christians believe that an individual cannot enter heaven without a proper funeral service and burial. During a funeral service, the body of the deceased will typically either be present in a casket covered by a funeral pall or the ashes of the deceased will be displayed in an urn.
There are many types of church services you may attend over your lifetime. The length and style of the service coordinates with the type of church service. Holiday celebrations and milestone events are usually longer and more targeted than weekday gatherings or Sunday services. The types of services offered and the way that church services are performed will vary from one church to another, even within the same branch of Christianity. Visit or contact your local church for more information on the types of services offered or to schedule a special service for an upcoming life event.