Worship Renewal Among The Contemporary Churches

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

This section explores worship renewal in the major denominations and Christian fellowships in North America. While there is a considerable amount of diversity from one denomination to the next, these entries reveal a surprising consensus on worship that is emerging in many Western churches. First, there is a remarkable agreement among churches on the need for renewal. Even the most liturgically conservative denominations see the need for reviving worship in a contemporary cultural context....

Adventist Churches

The sabbatarian worship of the Seventh-day Adventist churches follows in the free church tradition of worship and, aside from its distinctive Sabbath observance, is similar to that of many other evangelical churches. The church is likewise undergoing efforts at renewal that has grown out of the work of several Adventist professors in the 1970s and 1980s.

African Methodist Episcopal Churches

African Methodist Episcopal worship is grounded in the traditions of John Wesley and Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1797. Worship is African, liturgical, kerygmatic, charismatic, and democratic. Its special emphases are on preaching and participation, with focus on the altar call.

African Methodist Episcopal Zion Churches

Zion Methodism adheres to the traditional American Methodist liturgy adapted by Francis Asbury. Although its basic ritual pattern has remained unchanged, renewal is having an effect on observance of the Christian year and on music and spirituality.

American Baptist Churches In The Usa

Worship in the Baptist groups organized just after the American Revolutionary War was subsequently shaped by the revivalist tradition. More recently, the pedagogical model of worship has prevailed. In the future, American Baptist worship will likely be influenced by liturgical and inclusive styles as well as by charismatic worship practices.

Anglican / Episcopal Churches

Anglican/Episcopal worship has always been guided by The Book of Common Prayer. The Revised Rites of 1976 introduced the liturgical forms and styles of renewal. Many churches have also incorporated charismatic elements of worship.

Assemblies Of God Churches

The activity of the Holy Spirit is central to worship in Assemblies of God churches. The presence of the Spirit is experienced in prayer, praise, singing, and the operation of the gifts of the Spirit. The praise-and-worship style appeals to many who are dissatisfied with traditional forms of worship.

Baptist (evangelical Denominations & Independent Baptist Churches)

The worship of the Independent and Evangelical Baptist groups traditionally features strong preaching, gospel music, and invitations. New emphases include thematic planning, a wide variety of music styles, and greater congregational participation in prayer and in the use of the senses.

Baptist General Conference Churches

Worship in the Baptist General Conference follows the historic free church tradition, with, however, a contemporary flair. While there is no particular pattern evident among all the churches, there is a strong influence from the praise-and-worship style and a concern to establish seekers services. Some churches are finding ways to enhance the celebration of the Lord's Supper.

Brethren (plymouth) Assemblies

Brethren worship does not rely on clerical leadership. Rather, persons from within the assembled group, spontaneously moved by the Holy Spirit, lead worshipers through an experience of both Word and Table.

Calvary Chapel Churches

Calvary Chapel is representative of the newer independent churches characterized by lively, young congregations and free worship.

Charismatic Churches

Any Christian congregation open to the practice of the New Testament charismata in its worship, especially tongues, interpretation, prophecy, the word of knowledge, and the word of wisdom, is often described as a "charismatic" church. These phenomena, however, are not the dominant element of charismatic worship, which is more accurately described as worship based on praise in the presence of the Lord.

Christian Church (disciples Of Christ)

The worship of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is rooted in a Reformed tradition that has historically maintained both Word and sacrament. Worship is celebrated by an "ordained laity," seeks to involve the people as participants, and draws from a variety of sources developed by Catholic, evangelical, and charismatic communities.

Christian Churches (independent) & Instrumental Churches Of Christ

Christian churches generally follow the free-worship tradition in its nineteenth-century evangelical form, featuring gospel songs, informal structure, and evangelistic sermons with invitations. Unlike most other free churches, however, they celebrate the Lord's Supper weekly. In recent years, some churches have been influenced by liturgical and praise-and-worship practices.

Christian And Missionary Alliance Churches

Worship in the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church is rooted in the evangelical style of the sermon-oriented, invitation-focused service. More recently the trend has been toward the praise-and-worship tradition, with much greater emphasis upon music, the arts, and physical participation through dancing, clapping, and hand raising.

Christian Reformed Churches

Worship in the Christian Reformed Church centers on the sermon but also emphasizes metrical psalms and the participation of families in worship. Worship renewal draws from Catholic, evangelical, and charismatic sources. There is a growing concern to celebrate Communion more frequently and to incorporate praise music at appropriate places in worship.

Churches Of The Brethren

Worship in the Brethren churches, influenced by Anabaptist and Pietist traditions, rejects formal liturgy in favor of "free worship. " The emphasis in the past and now is on community, the Word, singing, and occasional services that combine the Agape feast and footwashing. Recently some churches have been influenced by either the liturgical movement or the more informal approach of the praise-and-worship tradition.

Churches Of God (anderson, Indiana)

Worship in the Church of God draws on both the holiness and ecumenical traditions. There is a strong emphasis on the "altar call" for conversion and the use of the "public altar" during congregational prayer for healing of relationships and emotions. Currently worship is being influenced by both the praise-and-worship movement and liturgical renewal.

Churches Of God (cleveland, Tennessee)

Worship in the Church of God, Cleveland, has long included elements of renewal such as lay participation, warm personal appeal, and energetic singing. New to the church, on the other hand, are some of the elements of liturgical worship. As in all such processes, new practices have replaced some older traditions.

Churches Of God In Christ

The Church of God in Christ is of Pentecostal origin. Worshipers bring their life experiences before God and open themselves to the power of the Spirit. Spontaneous expressions of praise such as shouting, dancing, and clapping are encouraged. Yet there is also an order and discipline that checks abuses of that freedom.

Churches Of The Nazarene

Although rooted in the Holiness tradition, Nazarene worship has been influenced in its historical development by the revivalistic approach to worship. Revivalism has been directed toward both initial salvation and complete sanctification.

Churches Of Christ (non-instrumental)

Historically, the Churches of Christ have stressed observance of forms and orders of worship that adhere strictly to New Testament practices. A recent renewal movement has brought innovation and greater diversity to worship in an effort to involve the emotions and to bring about a genuine encounter with God.

Congregational Churches

Congregational Church worship, while based on sixteenth-century traditions and influenced by a late nineteenth-century pattern, remains at the discretion of each congregation. The twentieth century has introduced new elements of worship. Nevertheless, there is a broad similarity of worship patterns from church to church.

Eastern Orthodox Churches

Absolutely central to Orthodox worship is its concern to remain faithful to apostolic Christianity and its worship. Consequently, renewal in Orthodox worship always seeks to incarnate the old into the new situation of history and culture. Some Orthodox churches incorporate praise-and-worship music during the reception of bread and wine.

Evangelical Covenant Churches

Worship in the Evangelical Covenant Church has been shaped by its Lutheran background in Sweden, by the Pietist movement of the seventeenth century, and by the evangelistic awakening of the nineteenth century. It has preserved the lectionary, the feast days, and a more frequent celebration of the Lord's Supper. Recent trends include the introduction of praise-and-worship music and the use of dramatic arts.

Evangelical Free Churches

The Evangelical Free Church does not dictate worship style to its congregations. For this reason, each community may respond to various trends. Some have been influenced by the liturgical renewal, but most are shaped by an evangelical gospel tradition or by the more recent praise-and-worship tradition.

Evangelical Lutheran Churches In America

Lutheran worship renewal remains consistent with Lutheran directives to purify the Roman Mass and to refrain from legalism. Luther's concern for these goals is expressed in the simple and direct way in which the twentieth-century forms of renewal have been adopted and applied to Lutheran worship. Although change has been slow, the turn to ancient practices, charismatic worship, and inclusive elements is meeting with wider approval.

Friends (quakers) Churches

Quaker worship has a tradition of silence. It eschews programmed worship, favoring instead meetings that are led by the prompting of the Spirit. Some Quaker groups have been influenced by American evangelicalism and have developed a somewhat more structured form of worship.

Independent Evangelical & Fundamentalist Churches

Traditional evangelical and fundamentalist worship is informal in style and emphasizes the sermon, singing, and prayer. Recent influences point to the need for more God-oriented worship and emotive music. Recently evangelicals have been borrowing from the liturgical and praise-and-worship traditions as well as utilizing the distinction between the seeker's service and believer's worship.

International Churches Of The Foursquare Gospel

The Foursquare Gospel Church, founded on the evangelistic and enthusiastic practices of Aimee Semple McPherson's Angelus Temple, has maintained the content of worship through various forms. In recent years it has benefited from the charismatic renewal movement.

Lutheran Churches - Missouri Synod

Worship in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has retained the pattern set by Luther, with some modifications. The liturgical, charismatic, and inclusive movements are making an impact here and there. But most churches practice traditional worship.

Mennonite Churches

The Mennonite tradition of worship has always placed emphasis on conversion and holy living. Since 1960 Mennonite worship has been affected by the modern liturgical movement, the charismatic movement, the praise-and-worship tradition, and the inclusion of other cultural forms of worship.

Messianic Synagogues

Messianic Jews claim both Jewish identity and belief in Jesus as Messiah. The worship practices of the messianic synagogues are diverse and fluid, but most draw on the basic structure of Jewish worship while incorporating the New Testament in some way.

National Baptist Convention Of America Churches

Worship in the constituency of the National Baptist Convention of America has been characterized by a free and emotionally powerful expression of faith in a God who promises liberation from oppressive circumstances. In recent years, worship has taken on greater structure without stifling freedom, and considerable resources have been devoted to enhancing the worship experience.

National Baptist Convention Of The Usa, Incorporated Churches

Worship in the churches of the National Baptist Convention of the USA, Inc. , is a joyous expression of gratitude to God for deliverance, both social and spiritual. The traditional black Baptist style of fervent preaching and singing predominates, and recently a charismatic influence has been manifest in increased use of dance, raising of hands, and chanting.

Presbyterian Church In America (pca) And Other Presbyterian Churches

The Presbyterian Church in America practices a worship shaped by the updated Westminster Directory. However, because the directory is only a guide and not obligatory, there is no uniformity of worship in the PCA. Current trends in the church favor greater musical variety and increased congregational participation. Influences from the liturgical, charismatic, and inclusive movements are gaining in strength.

Presbyterian Churches (usa)

Presbyterian worship has felt the impact of the liturgical renewal movement. Members are expressing concern about remaining faithful to the Reformed tradition. The emphasis on preaching and singing remains strong, while renewed interest has emerged in the recovery Psalm singing, regular celebration of Communion, and the services of the Christian year. Some churches seek to incorporate charismatic and inclusive elements.

Progressive National Baptist Convention, Incorporated Churches

Worship in the Progressive National Baptist Convention is rooted in a conviction of God's sovereignty and liberating character as revealed in the Exodus. The style of worship is participatory and uninhibited. Music, in a variety of styles, plays a vital role.

Reformed Churches In America

The Reformed Church in America has been influenced by the liturgical movement, the renaissance in the arts, and the praise-and-worship movement. While most churches observe a traditional approach to worship, a great variety of worship styles can be found in the RCA.

Reformed Episcopal Churches

The Reformed Episcopal Church continues to use the 1785 Book of Common Prayer but has added to its worship both the recovery of historic concerns, such as increased frequency of Communion, and the incorporation of contemporary forms, such as the use of praise songs. African-American congregations, which comprise about one-half of the denomination's membership, have incorporated African-American styles of worship as well.

Roman Catholic Churches

Renewal of Christian worship began in the nineteenth century and culminated in the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which led to greater participation by the laity in the liturgy. Issues that must still be faced in ongoing discussions concern the theological and cultural appropriateness of the language of liturgical texts, the role of women, and the place of the laity in leadership.

Salvation Army

Salvation Army worship corresponds to its mission of saving sinners and meeting human need. It consists mainly of singing, testimonies, and calls to holy living.

Southern Baptist Convention Churches

The traditional hallmarks of Baptist worship have been the centrality of preaching, fervent singing, and extemporaneous prayer. Worship renewal in the Southern Baptist Convention is moving in divergent directions. Those influenced by the more formal British tradition seek renewal along the lines of the ecumenical consensus. Those more influenced by the revivalist tradition draw on the praise-and-worship style and the church growth movement.

United Churches Of Christ

The United Church of Christ is the union of four historic Congregational churches. It seeks to make Christ central in Word and sacrament, and is committed to a participatory worship, the use of inclusive language, and fostering a prophetic ministry. The 1986 Book of Worship reflects a strong influence from the liturgical and inclusive movement. Some local churches have been influenced by charismatic worship as well.

United Methodist Churches

Worship in the United Methodist Church draws from both the Catholic and Protestant heritage. The denomination contains both strong liturgical and charismatic movements. Worship today is characterized by emphasis on the Christian year, frequent Communion, use of the arts, and commitment to inclusive language and women in liturgical leadership.

Vineyard Churches

The trademark of Vineyard worship is contemporary praise. Recently a great diversity of style is being embraced within the movement.

Wesleyan Churches

Worship in the Wesleyan Church typifies that of the American holiness movement-relatively informal, centered on the sermon, and concerned with the holiness of the believer. One current renewal movement seeks to make worship a more praise-filled celebration, while another concentrates on recovering reverence through historic Christian liturgy.

Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod Churches

Throughout its history, the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod has been slow to make changes in worship. Most of the church has resisted the liturgical, charismatic, and inclusive trends of the twentieth century. However, there is a new desire among some to be open to the new ways of worship.

Women’s Aglow Fellowship International

Aglow is an interdenominational ministry that touches over three-quarters of a million women each year in over 100 nations of the world. From the smaller monthly meetings (25 to 400 women) of the local fellowships to the larger annual conventions (2, 000 to 10, 000 women), praise and worship holds a prominent place in everything Aglow does.

Alternative Worship In The Liturgical Traditions

St. Gregory Nyssen Episcopal Church draws from the rich worship tradition of the entire church, particularly the Eastern tradition and from various cultures around the world. In addition to Word and sacrament, this worship emphasizes community, space, movement, silence and meditation, and social concern.

Alternative Worship In The Free Church Tradition

At Grace Fellowship Church, worship dwells on the restoration of the world, which in turn creates the longing for worship. Worship draws from both the traditional and the contemporary and builds around a theme usually developed in acts of Entrance, Word, Table, and Dismissal. Both the influence of the liturgical movement and the praise-and-worship tradition is evident in this pattern of worship.

Alternative Worship In The Pentecostal-charismatic Tradition

The charismatic movement brought classical Pentecostalism into contact with other major traditions from which it had been estranged. Many younger Pentecostals are experiencing renewal in worship through this encounter, combining their Pentecostal heritage with evangelical and liturgical influences.

The Seekers’ Service/believers’ Worship Churches

Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, the second largest church in the United States, has become well known for its pioneering efforts in the development of the seekers' service. This entry presents and explains this service, which is intended for the unchurched.