Music And The Arts Among The Contemporary Churches

Source: The Complete Library of Christian Worship, Robert E. Webber, General Editor

The entries that follow offer an overview of the current worship practices of most of the major denominations in this country, each prepared by a person active in that particular church. Read individually, they furnish a wealth of fresh ideas; collectively they give evidence that, while each denomination remains theologically focused on its tradition and centers its worship on the familiar, there is hardly one which is not actively re-examining its worship philosophy and experimenting with...

Adventist Churches

In Seventh-day Adventism, the worship service is the center of congregational life. Evangelism, social concern, Christian education, and pastoral care flow from, and are shaped by, worship, which aims at ministering to the whole person.

African Methodist Episcopal Churches

When Methodism failed to meet the needs of free blacks in the United States, Richard Allen and others established a new church, the African Methodist Episcopal church. Building on the spiritual legacy of the slavery experience, African Methodist worship has developed its own unique style. Elements of this style include the affirmation of creation and life, emotional responsiveness without sacrifice of intellect, dialogue between the worshiper and God, and expectancy for the future.

African Methodist Episcopal Zion Churches

The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AME Zion) has been at the forefront of efforts to improve the quality of life for African Americans. Worship services, as well as other church activities, highlight the church's role in social ministries, education, and the recognition of the leadership of women.

American Baptist Churches In The Usa

Although rooted in that wing of the Reformation which made the most radical shift away from highly developed liturgical structure, American Baptist churches are nevertheless undergoing a radical rethinking of the role and shape of worship in congregational life. No longer simply a vehicle for evangelism, worship is emerging as a context for community building and the nurture of believers.

Anglican / Episcopal Churches

The objective style and biblical structure of worship in the Anglican and Episcopal Book of Common Prayerallowed its historic forms to endure well into the period when the church became involved in social concerns and ministries. However, revision of the Prayer Book in the latter part of the twentieth century has given renewed liturgical expression to the church's sense of community and social ministry.

Assemblies Of God Churches

Having originated in the Pentecostal movement of the early twentieth century, the Assemblies of God still exhibit certain worship traits associated with that movement, such as encouraging all to participate visibly and audibly in the service. In other areas, however, the Assemblies have moved toward assimilation into the evangelical mainstream. With assimilation, a larger role for clergy and more attention to musical excellence has emerged in the Assemblies.

Baptists (evangelical Denominations And Independent Baptist Churches)

Numerous Baptist groups and independent Baptist congregations exist in North America. The following entry is a general discussion of worship and related ministries in independent and evangelical Baptist churches.

Baptist General Conference Churches

Because Baptist churches are congregationally governed, worship practices vary. Thus, general statements about worship are inappropriate. This article describes the relation of worship to other church ministries in a representative member congregation of the Baptist General Conference.

Brethren (plymouth) Assemblies

Among the Plymouth Brethren, the congregation's worship life centers on the "breaking of bread" meeting. This meeting exhibits the Brethren's values of spontaneity and simplicity, although it restricts women's participation. Since this meeting is unplanned, the preaching service which follows more effectively links worship with other aspects of congregational life.

Calvary Chapel

Calvary Chapel uses contemporary music in worship but does not emphasize the visual arts.

Charismatic Churches

Christian education, social outreach, and concern for the development of women in leadership have become increasingly important dimensions in the life of charismatic churches. A growing number of women leaders, social ministries, and educational institutions testify to this vitality.

Christian And Missionary Alliance Churches

Within the churches of the Alliance, renewal of worship is extending its impact beyond the historic evangelistic and missionary effort of the Alliance into other ministries, especially those of pastoral care and development of congregational community.

Christian Church (disciples Of Christ)

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has been especially concerned that they understand how worship relates to inclusiveness toward all types of people. In recent years, these churches have been especially concerned to incorporate women and children into full participation in worship.

Christian Churches And Churches Of Christ

From the movement's beginning, worship in the Christian churches and Churches of Christ has been evangelistic in orientation. In recent years, however, many congregations have begun to adopt a more contemporary style of worship based on worship renewal itself, as well as making the service more attractive to seekers. In this way, worship is being more fully integrated with other ministries of the local church.

Christian Reformed Churches

Originally a denomination consisting largely of people of Dutch origin, the Christian Reformed Church has in recent decades reached out to many cultural groups through a renewal of worship and evangelism. Its traditional strength in education continues to shape worship.

Church Of God, Anderson, Indiana

In ascribing worth to God, worshipers find themselves confronting God's presence in the whole of life. In this entry, a representative of the Church of God, Anderson, Indiana, explores the relationships between worship and evangelism, pastoral care, social ministry, and inclusiveness toward all people.

Church Of God, Cleveland, Tennessee

During most of its first century of existence, the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee, has concentrated on a free and enthusiastic personal response to the Lord in worship. Other concerns, such as education, social ministry, pastoral care, and gender inclusiveness, have not been related to the worship service as such. In recent decades, however, this pattern has begun to change.

Church Of God In Christ

Congregations of the Church of God in Christ have a vibrant tradition of praise singing and free-flowing worship. Music styles range from the traditional call-and-response songs to contemporary gospel music made famous by a variety of recording artists. Both congregational singing and gospel choir music have strong roots in the Church of God in Christ. Church leaders are concerned about keeping music focused on the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Church Of The Brethren

Known historically as a pacifist denomination, the Church of the Brethren finds in corporate worship a powerful setting for articulating and advancing the themes of peace and peacemaking.

Church Of The Nazarene

The spontaneity permitted in Nazarene worship, along with the warm evangelistic thrust of the corporate gathering, has helped to create an openness to the integration of worship with other facets of congregational life such as pastoral care and women's ministries.

Churches Of Christ (noninstrumental)

A strong renewing movement within the Churches of Christ has made its impact on the integration of worship with other areas of ministry. While worship has historically been evangelistic in emphasis and focused on the preaching of the Word, in many congregations these emphases are shifting to small group ministry and the renewal of corporate praise to God in the worship assembly.

Congregational Churches

In Congregational churches, the relationship between worship and other ministries becomes apparent when the church covenant is seen as the link between the formal worship of the gathered church and the other activities of service and witness which make up the life of the church.

Eastern Orthodox Churches

The Divine Liturgy of the Eucharist has been the historic center of life in Eastern Orthodox churches. The liturgy is the means of spiritual formation. All other ministries of the church--such as education, evangelism, or pastoral care-serve to relate people to the liturgy as the locus for experiencing the presence and power of God.

Evangelical Covenant Churches

Though heir to the liturgical tradition of pietistic Lutheranism, the Evangelical Covenant Church adapted to a revivalist milieu in America with its focus on Scandinavian immigrants as the target group for evangelistic and pastoral outreach. A new sense of mission, however, pervades the denomination, creating expanded horizons both for worship and for ministry to the unchurched.

Evangelical Free Church Of America

The pattern of local church autonomy in the Evangelical Free Church of America results in great variety among the local churches in worship and in the impact of worship on other ministries. This entry selects one local region and congregation as a representative of what may be characteristic throughout the denomination of the relationship of worship to evangelism, education, social action, spiritual formation, and the role of women.

Evangelical Lutheran Church In America

Ministries of social justice, pastoral care, and evangelism are all advanced by the liturgy itself in most Evangelical Lutheran Church in America congregations. When conducted with authenticity, the liturgy provides for the proclamation of the gospel, for the comforting of the sorrowing, and for the addressing of social issues in light of God's Word. Full participation of women and the inclusion of children also signify that the liturgy itself is a symbol of the coming kingdom of God.

Friends (quakers)

The conviction of Quakers, or the Society of Friends, is that genuine worship results in a change of attitude that has implications for all of life, especially areas of personal integrity and sensitivity to suffering and injustice. Therefore, Quakers have developed specific personal and corporate disciplines which help the worshiper to live out his or her faith.

International Church Of The Foursquare Gospel

Jesus' imperative of making disciples of all nations implies an inclusive ministry. Women, children, and physically challenged persons all find an important place in Foursquare churches. Worship is important for modeling inclusivity as a characteristic of the whole Christian life.

Independent Fundamentalist And Evangelical Churches

Worship is the adoration of God. Worship can also be an important vehicle for spiritual formation, and for the education and the influencing of children. But since these churches believe that only believers can truly worship, evangelism and worship are maintained as separate functions.

Lutheran Church–missouri Synod

In the Missouri Synod, the public liturgy is viewed as the life of the church of Jesus Christ. Consequently, the liturgy is the proclamation of the gospel and the mission of the church. The liturgy is also an important means for pastoral care, and is a lifelong vehicle for Christian formation through the Word of God.

Mennonite Churches

With its roots in the radical wing of the Protestant Reformation, the Mennonite church has historically emphasized Christian discipleship and has understood worship as continuous with daily living. In recent years, however, as a result of growing awareness of the multifaceted nature of worship, much more attention is being given to the integration of worship with other ministries in the congregation.

Messianic Synagogue

Messianic Jews occupy an uncomfortable position between a Christian church that sometimes fails to appreciate their distinctives and a Jewish community that often rejects them as intruders. In living out their faith in Jesus as Savior in the framework of Jewish identity and tradition, Messianic Jews experience their "in-between" status as a major factor in their own spiritual formation.

The National Baptist Convention Of America, Inc.

Worship in the National Baptist Convention of America is respect for the "worthship" or worthiness of God. Worship, private or public, which praises God and proclaims the gospel encompasses all the ministries of Christ's church in which Christians are all called to serve.

National Baptist Convention Of The Usa

Churches of the National Baptist Convention of the USA make extensive use of traditional black music such as spirituals and hymns as well as contemporary music that features modern harmonies and rhythms. The perceived secularity of some varieties of contemporary music presents one challenge to member churches. The dramatic and visual arts are also significant to member churches.

Presbyterian Church In America

Discussion of worship issues within the Presbyterian Church in America centers on interpretation of the regulative principle embodied in the Westminster Confession. More than all other ministries related to worship, concern for evangelism drives worship renewal in this church.

Presbyterian Church (usa)

Presbyterians are convinced that worship, work, and witness are inseparable within the one life of the church. Through worship and the proclamation of the Word, faith matures into a commitment that touches other lives with the Good News of Christ.

Progressive National Baptist Convention

The congregations which make up the Progressive National Baptist Convention are not bound by denominational directives. Nevertheless, across the denomination there is a discernible trend toward inclusiveness in worship. Also integral to worship is a tradition of social witness, particularly in issues which affect the African American community.

Reformed Church In America

Congregations of the Reformed Church in America strive to make their worship both orderly and informal in the effort to reach out to visitors and others seeking a church relationship. Other church ministries, such as social witness, education and pastoral care, find expression through the church's worship life.

Reformed Episcopal Church

The Reformed Episcopal Church reveals its evangelical and liturgical heritage in worship which proclaims the gospel through traditional forms, while reaching out to others and emphasizing ministry to families.

Roman Catholic Churches

For Roman Catholics, the liturgy is the foundation for living the Christian life in the exercise of all ministries of the church. Worship has an integral relationship to spiritual formation, education, social justice, and other areas of Christian witness.

Salvation Army

Within the Salvation Army, recognition is growing that the dual priorities of evangelism and social action can find effective expression through worship.

Southern Baptist Convention Churches

Like Baptist groups in general, the Southern Baptist Convention is an association of congregations which function autonomously at the local level. Thus, it is difficult to speak in generalities about worship and related ministries in the member churches. This entry discusses a representative congregation.

United Church Of Christ

The United Church of Christ has encouraged member congregations toward greater inclusiveness in worship and related ministries, toward expanded social concern, and toward openness to visitors and new worshipers. The following entry describes how one local church has tried to realize these goals in relation to its worship service.

United Methodist Churches

Social concern, evangelism, and Christian education have all been important aspects of the Methodist movement since the era of John Wesley. United Methodist churches have traditionally sought to integrate these concerns into the worship service, especially through special program emphases promoted by various denominational boards and agencies.


The relationship of people with God, expressed through worship, is the central focus of the Vineyard churches. Viewed in this relational perspective, worship clearly enhances and interacts with all other areas of ministry in the church.

Wesleyan Churches

The Wesleyan Church, throughout its history, has emphasized social concern, evangelism, and personal holiness. Thus, the Wesleyan Church finds it natural to express these aspects of the Christian life, along with other church ministries, in corporate worship.

Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod

The life of Wisconsin Synod congregations centers around worship in Word and sacrament. Evangelistic and educational ministries are oriented around the liturgy, and the role of other ministries within the denomination is shaped by the degree to which they are integrated into congregational worship life.

Women’s Aglow International

Women's Aglow, an international organization of women, experiences an intimate connection between worship and its major emphases of intercession and evangelism.

Alternative Worship In The Liturgical Tradition

Liturgical traditions can still offer great flexibility for integrating into worship a broad spectrum of church ministries. This entry describes a congregation in which this flexibility is demonstrated.

Alternative Worship In The Free Church Tradition

Because worship motivates believers to care for a broken creation and instills in them a vision of God's new creation, it lies at the heart of a congregation's outreach into other ministries. The following is a description of a church in the free evangelical tradition that is breaking new ground in the integration of worship and related areas of service.

Alternative Worship In The Pentecostal-charismatic Tradition

Within the Pentecostal-charismatic community, worship renewal may take the form of a reappropriation of more traditional liturgical elements, such as the use of a lectionary and a consistent emphasis on the sacraments. In churches where this is occurring, members are finding a relationshipo between many areas of Christian ministry and worship. This entry discusses the experience of one such congregation.

Alternative Worship In Seekers’ Service/believers’ Worship

Churches that have adopted the format of a broad-based "seekers' service" (accompanied by a separate, more intense worship service for committed believers) are breaking new ground in the integration of worship with other aspects of Christian ministry.