General Pastoral Ministry

Thomas Bilney Institute for Biblical Research

             This course is designed to help you get a standard format established in the area of conducting Christian worship services and the administration of the Christian sacraments. These patterns will vary greatly from denomination to denomination and even from congregation to congregation within any given denomination. These are “skeleton” outlines for you to dress with the personalizations and customizations of your particular branch of Christianity. As you continue on through this course of study, you will be given tools and further instruction about the development of these particular services, so that you can make them meaningful and helpful to the congregation that you are called to serve in. Keep these concepts and ideas about various formats of worship in mind as you progress through the courses and see how God would have you be creative and demonstrative in their various uses and applications.      


The Worship Service



      There are generally four basic styles of worship services practiced in the protestant Christian Church of North America. There are other modifications of these four basic styles of worship that fill the areas between these four categories. There are no perfect or correct styles of worship. A congregation and the pastor should try to decide what is best for them.



            1. Traditional liturgies

            2. Singing Hymns

            3. Readings & Recitations

            4. Preaching


           1. Open Format (may use drama & dance)

           2. Praise & Worship Choruses 

           3. Interactive participation

           4. Preaching


1.      Elements of both traditional and contemporary

2.      Use of Choruses and Hymns

3.      Preaching or “having a talk” 

      d). “SEEKER SERVICE”

          1.  More entertainment oriented        

2.       No audience participation required

          3.  Minimal use of choruses

          4.  Non abrasive approach to presenting the gospel




          These are the typical outline or order of service for these different styles of services. They can obviously be modified to fit the individual and specific needs of that particular congregation. 


Typical Traditional Service

Musical Prelude

Opening Invocation and/or Call to Worship


Congregational Announcements


Scripture Reading

Collection of the Offering

Musical Offertory or Choir Anthem

Pastoral Prayer and/or Blessing of the Offering

Scripture Reading

Hymn or Choir Anthem

Scripture Reading

Sermon or Pastoral Message

Closing Hymn

Pastoral Benediction

Musical Postlude


Typical Contemporary Service

Congregational Announcements

Special Musical Selection

Call to Worship (may include drama or dance)

Singing of Praise and Worship Choruses

Pastoral Prayer

Interactive Congregational Prayer and Testimony

Collection of the Offering

Special Musical Selection

Sermon or Pastoral Message

Invitation to Respond

Closing Song



Typical Blended Service

Congregational Announcements

Call to Worship

Singing of Hymns

Collection of the Offering

Special Musical Selection

Singing of Worship Choruses

Pastoral Prayer

Special Musical Selection

Sermon or Pastoral Message

Invitation to Respond

Closing Song



Typical Seeker Service

Special Musical Selection

Topical Drama

Special Musical Selection

Pastoral “Talk”


Special Musical Selection





Here is a practical spiritually sound outline to help you prepare your first or consecutive sermons together.


1). Pray to seek God’s will for what to speak about. Pray regularly and plenty in advance of the time that you will be preaching.

2). Select a topic that you feel God would want you to preach on for that particular group or congregation and at that particular time. Many times this will develop into a series of messages that can be preached over several weeks.

3). If you are not familiar with scripture related to that topic, use a concordance or Biblical topical reference book to assist you to find passages in scripture relating to the subject you have chosen.

4). Formulate 2-4 key points or words to emphasize about the selected topic in Scripture.

5). You may want to use an example story, an object lesson, a simple drama or a poem to illustrate various aspects of the selected subject and/or scriptures.

6). Summarize your points and create a challenge and/or application of the topic for the congregational members to use or apply personally to their lives.

7). Close with a prayer and an invitation of response from the congregation. This may include a call of the congregation to the front of the church for prayer or a show of hands from those who are requesting prayer or responding to the message from God that they have just heard.    




1). Special Musical Selection

2). Welcoming of Family and Guests

3). Reading of Obituary or Eulogy

4). Special Musical Selection

5). Scripture Reading


Examples of commonly used scriptures


Psalms 23:1-6

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; he leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.


John 11:25-26

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. "And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"


John 14:1-6

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. "And where I go you know, and the way you know." Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.


2 Tim 4:6-8

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.


Rev 1:5-8

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."


Additional Choices in Scripture : Isaiah 43:1-3, II Corinthians 1:3-7, Psalms 116:15


6). Pastoral Prayer


7). Message

Use personal references to issue comfort and encouragement to survivors and friends. Refrain from personal opinions and judgements. You may want to use some of the above scriptures that have not been previously read.


8). Closing Prayer




1). Reading of Scripture



Rev 21:3-5

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.


2). Brief Words of Commission and Encouragement

3). Prayer

4). Committal Rights


Example 1

Ashes to Ashes……………. Dust to Dust

From the dust of the earth we were formed and to the earth we shall all return. So in that belief we commit the body of our beloved father / mother / brother / sister / son / daughter back to the earth from which he / she was formed. Placing our complete trust in the faithfulness of God to resurrect him / her into a new and eternal spiritual body of life everlasting. (optional) May  his / her  soul and souls of  all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.


Example 2

For as much as it has pleased Almighty God our Heavenly Father to take unto Himself the soul of our beloved brother/sister, we now tenderly commit his/her mortal remains back to the earth from which he/she created. This body may dissolve into the earth, but the spirit of our brother/sister we commend into the hands of God knowing that he is a just and righteous in all His ways. 


5). Benediction


Examples of benedictions

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy--to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (from the book of Jude)


And now may the peace of God the Father, the love of His only Son Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit be with you and go with until we all meet together again. In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 


The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. Man the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. Amen.  (from the book of Numbers)




1). Special Musical Selections


2). Processional of Bridesmaids and Bride. Groom, groomsmen and minister should already be at the front of the sanctuary.


3). Welcome and Introductory Statements

Dearly beloved we are gathered here today in the sight of God and these witness to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony. This honorable ordinance is not to be entered into lightly or with out counsel and advice. Both the man and the woman should commit their lives to this act reverently and soberly with a clear conscience before God and before man. If any man can show just cause why these two cannot be lawfully joined together, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.  


4). The Giving Away of the Bride

 “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?


5). Pastoral Commission to the Bride and Groom

The Old Testament prophet Malachi makes this proclamation of the Lord God Almighty in regards to marriage when he says “Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.


6). Pastoral Commission to the Family and Friends

It is your job as witnesses of this testimony of love displayed here before you this day to encourage, love  and support these two on their walk together from this time forward.  


7). Repeating of the Vows


I (groom) take thee (bride) to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance, and thereto I plight thee my troth.


I (bride) take thee (groom) to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance, and thereto I plight thee my troth.



8). Ring Ceremony (Special musical selections may be used to introduce this section)


With this ring, I thee wed , as a token of my love and unending faithfulness I give it to thee as a constant reminder of our lives together as one.



9). Unity Candle Ceremony (optional)

Both the bride and groom now take the individually lit candles before them which represent their separate lives up until this day. As the they jointly light the unity candle in the center with each of their flames and then extinguish their own individual candles they portray by example the unity of there lives together now as one.

In Genesis  2:24 we read “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”


10). Pastoral Prayer of Blessing

Our gracious heavenly Father, we ask your blessing upon this couple as they begin their new life together this day. Strengthen them, guide them and protect them, and lead them and their family in the paths of righteousness according to the salvation provided for them in the death, burial and resurrection of your only Son Jesus Christ, in whose name we now humbly pray, Amen.

Those who God hath joined together let no man put asunder.  


11). The Pronouncement and Bridal Kiss

By the power vested in me by the State of __________ and the calling and ordination to ministry by God our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ his only Son, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.




12). First Presentation of the Couple

It is now my privilege to introduce to you for the first time Mr. & Mrs. (Name)


13). Recessional




1). Singing of a Song (Chorus or Hymn)

2). Introduction of the candidate(s)

3). Questioning and Response of the Candidate(s)



- Have you personally accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior and repented from your sins?

- Is it your desire from this day forward to serve Him faithfully in all aspects of your life? 


4). Proclamation

Optional Proclamation

   a). I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit

   b). I baptize you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.


5). Immersion of the Candidate(s).

6). Singing of a Song (Chorus or Hymn)

7). Benediction



Go in peace to serve our Lord Jesus Christ faithfully throughout your life!




1). Reading of Scripture


1 Corinthians 11:23-30

The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.       For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.


2). Distribute the bread

3). Invitation to partake of the bread (optional prayer)

4). Distribute the cup (wine or juice)

5). Invitation to partake of the cup (optional prayer)

6). Prayer of Thanksgiving and Dedication

7). Benediction




       Don’t be bound to traditions and rituals unless they are spiritually beneficial to your congregation. Try various liturgies or additions to the service and see how your congregation reacts or doesn’t react. Be sensitive to the needs of your congregation. Every congregation has general spiritual needs. They are prayer, including special or personalized prayer for specific needs and circumstances in the parishioner’s life. Also there is a need for fellowship and for Bible instruction and discipleship.  

        Learn to recognize and appoint the real leaders of the church. These would be the elders and deacons and deaconesses. Make the leaders of your church apart of your ministry and share in their ministry in the church. Together you all make up a team that God can use when you operate in harmony and support of one another. Other ministry leaders may be needed for special ministry groups such as a singles group or a teen fellowship, or maybe a senior adult group. Volunteers and workers will need to be recruited from time to time to help in supportive roles and for general assistance. 

             Learn to know when enough is enough. Know the boundaries by which you will live your life in ministry. Share those boundaries with someone you trust so that they may hold you accountable to such limitations. Then commit yourself to live in that realm of accountability. Set obtainable goals and be willing to delegate responsibilities for the things that you can not or are not able to participate in.

            Live an active prayer life for the congregation you serve and for yourself. The more you communicate with God the more you will draw into Him and know His will for your life and your congregations. “Prayer care” is the most important part of your life. Listen for God’s voice as you study His word – the Bible. Study the Bible and pray ! Let your life be a reflection of the glory of Jesus Christ!

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Thomas Bilney Institute for Biblical Research
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Dayton, Ohio    45475