Do you have any good ideas for a meaningful and better-attended second service?

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This question is from a real-life situation to which Dr. Henry DeMoor has responded to based on his extensive knowledge of the Christian Reformed Church Order. The first answer given has been taken from the Christian Reformed Church Order Commentary written by Dr. DeMoor.

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I don’t know how good they’ll be, but this is what I’ve heard and seen. What I do not recommend is that the second service be almost exactly like the morning service. In some cases, the difference has involved no more than substituting the call to confession and assurance of pardon with a recitation of the Apostles’ or Nicene Creeds. Our increasingly diverse denomination needs to consider variety.

Consider the teaching service. Early Reformed “second services” were educationally focused. That’s one reason why our Catechism is divided into 52 Lord’s Days and why ministers are asked “each Lord’s Day . . . ordinarily [to] preach the Word as summarized in the creeds and confessions of the church, especially the Heidelberg Catechism” (Article 54b). In the past, synod has even encouraged the use of the contemporary testimony (“Our World Belongs to God”) for this purpose. I sometimes think that members in our churches are confessionally illiterate. Teaching services, creatively planned and well executed, might be just the ticket.

Consider other possibilities as well. A contemporary music service once a month that truly appeals to the young and the youngminded. Perhaps a service in the style of Taizé with its contemplative stillness. A service focused on healing. An “end of the year” service on the Sunday evening before the 31st to remember those who passed on, those who were born or adopted or brought into the church membership, and/or the cardinal moments in nation and world. An intergenerational worship service of one kind or another. For great ideas check with the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship or consult back issues of Reformed Worship magazine (both with a rich online presence). Or arrange for smaller gatherings in homes where people either form a community and tackle each other’s challenges with biblical insights and shared prayer or deliberately disciple new members into our fellowship—or both of these together. In that case, be sure that “such alternatives are part of a strategic ministry plan with full accountability to [your] classis” (Supplement, Article 51a).

All this is not radically new territory. Synod 2005, for example, decided to “remind the churches that the second worship service may be a teaching service, employing models such as small groups, house churches, and various congregational gatherings characterized by learning together, dialogue, and interaction” (Acts of Synod, 2005, p. 720).