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The Five Acts of Worship

What does the New Testament say about

  • Singing
  • Giving
  • Preaching
  • Praying and
  • Taking the Lord's Supper

There is a famous tract written by James R. Cope, former president of Florida College, entitled THE ONE TRUE CHURCH, in which Cope argues that these five acts of worship indicate a true church.


There is no passage in the New Testament that says the purpose of gathering together as a congregation is to sing, nor is there a passage that says that singing is one of the five acts of congregational worship.

The apostle Paul talks about how singing was misused in  Corinth that each one wanted to sing (v.26) or preach or speak in a tongue, but no reference to the congregation singing. In the favorite Church of Christ passages on singing, in Ephesians and Colossians there is equally no reference to a congregation singing, no reference to congregational worship or gathering at all.


Commentators are about equally divided as to how to interpret Paul's urgings in I Cor. 16. Half of all commentators believe Paul was telling the Christians in Corinth to save up their money at home so that it would be ready when Paul came to take it to the poor Christians in Jerusalem. Other commentators say this would contradict Paul's next statement: "that there be no collections when I come."

Whatever he was saying, he was not saying that the collections would continue past his visit. The collections were for one purpose: the poor Christians in Jerusalem. There would be no more collections after Paul came.


In Paul's instructions to the Corinthians, Paul tells them to limit the preaching to two or three people at the most, and everything be done for the building up of the body. This echoes the exhortation in Hebrews 10 to not forsake the assembling together but rather to encourage one another.


In Paul's urging to Timothy he asks that all men lift up holy hands in prayer to God, without fighting, and the women dress modestly. Also there is no reference to the group worship service in this passage. The only passage about group worship with prayer is again in I Cor. 14

Taking the Lord's Supper

In Paul's letter to the Corinthians he talks about taking the Lord's Supper as a time of sharing as opposed to selfishness, as a time of self reflection, and as an activity in the group as a whole.

More Acts of Worship

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Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism as social movements






One writer let me know she was dedicated to God by saying, "Every time the church doors are open we are there." Did God ask for that?




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For a page on Prooftexting click here.

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