The call to worship occurs at the beginning of a worship service. It may take various forms including a reading or invitation from the pastor, a responsive call between the pastor and the congregation, or music. Regardless of the format, the call to worship focuses the attention of the congregation on God and invites them to actively participate in all facets of the service.
The pastor may read a scriptural text such as Psalm 100:1-2, "Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all you people. Serve the Lord with gladness and come into His presence with singing." Following the text, the choir or congregation may sing a hymn or a short praise chorus that invites all to join in worship. Following the song, the pastor welcomes the attendees and acknowledges visitors before moving into other worship activities such as prayer or more singing.
In a responsive reading, there is a call from the leader and a response from the congregation. Someone may have authored the reading specifically as a call to worship or the pastor may use a scripture reading such as Psalm 150. Using this as a responsive call to worship, the pastor reads the odd-numbered verses and the congregation reads the even-numbered ones. Many church hymnbooks include responsive readings, making the call to worship easy for everyone to participate. The church can project slides for the responsive reading or the church bulletin may print the call to worship in the order of worship.
The choir can sing a call to worship. The musical calls are often short and do not require congregation response. The choir can sing the introit as they enter the sanctuary or from a stationary position on the platform. The pastor rises after the introit and welcomes those in attendance and invites them to participate in worship. A song or responsive reading may follow the invitation so the congregation can immediately move into a spirit of worship.
A church with a piano, organ, carillon or praise band may use an instrumental call to worship. The music gives church members time to move to their seats and prepare for the service to begin. Pastors find this kind of beginning especially effective when church members like to talk with one another prior to the service. It allows them to conclude their conversations and focus on the sacredness of worship.The pastor can follow an instrumental worship call with a prayer, biblical passage, responsive reading or a song. The transition moves the worship service more deeply into a focus on God.