Monday, my final day of class with Pastor Kossi and his students, was supposed to be a discussion about the person and work of the Holy Spirit. However, we began with questions about the service. This in turn led to questions about prayer, sermons, and then eventually the church year. I hadn’t meant to do a class on the Church Year at this point in Togo but one of the men had seen a pericope in the French Hymnal I brought last May and asked about it. We were already talking about the service so it seemed a natural topic. As you can imagine by the time we finished all of this the day was “far spent.” We never got to the Holy Spirit but that is okay.
In discussing the service it didn’t seem wise at this point to even attempt to introduce the full liturgy to a group which was used to a Pentecostal type of service. Instead I stressed seven things that should be a part of any service. 1. Singing, 2. Confession and Absolution, 3. Reading the Word, 4. The Creed, 5. A sermon, 6. Prayer, 7. Benediction. It is of course not necessary that they be done in this order but it seems like a good idea. The only slight objection they gave was that it would take too long to do all of this. I received the same response when I was in Congo speaking of the worship service. Both times I found that response odd since they already do all of these already except 2 and 4 and these things combined can’t add more than five minutes to the service.
I also tried to stress the teaching nature of the worship service. The goal of the service is of course primarily worship, which includes praise to God and receiving gifts from God, however the entire service, not just the sermon, is secondarily an opportunity to teach. In the confession we teach our members the proper daily attitude of a Christian. Similarly the pastor’s prayer is a chance to teach his members how to pray.