What Do the Church Order and Other Synodical Documents Say About Worship?

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Worship Ministries was recently asked by someone if there was a specific order of worship that needs to be followed in the CRC. We receive this question or a variation of it fairly regularly and the answer isn't a clear "yes" or "no".  Our general response is to send the individual links to the church order. But the church order itself references several other synodically approved document which not everyone has saved for easy access.  For that reason we created this resource formulated as a Q&A which we hope will be a helpful place to begin. 

What Does the Church Order and Other Synodical Documents Say About Worship? 

As you read and reflect on this document you may be struck by the fact that the last time synod report on worship was 1997.  While we don't suggest the creation of another synodical report it does raise such questions as:  

1. What of our current statements and guidelines do you still affirm and find helpful?  

2. What might need some further reflection or updating?

3. What new worship related question do you wish we could gather communal wisdom on?

We would value your insight either via a comment below or by emailing worship@crcna.org

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The linked document makes for interesting reading, especially as one recognizes how many of these provisions are ignored in our churches today. Many have Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day, as explicitly required by the C.O. Many observe Ascension Day on the Sunday before or after. The list goes on. It would be good if some of this were rewritten to be more descriptive and less prescriptive

Community Builder

I am relatively new to the CRC, but have been involved in evangelical churches all of my life as a lay leader. I read the Q and A’s with great interest. I also read them in the context of a decades-long decrease in the number of people who call the CRCNA their church home. The statements on church worship help to shed light for me on why such a decrease has been happening. I offer the following observations:

  1. The focus of what I read seems to be on looking backward on worship as it has been, rather than forward to what it can be.
  1. What may have worked well in the past (pre-1960’s) has not been effective since then. The presence of many former CRC church buildings in my community, may be testimony to that reality. Several congregations, even now, are on life-support.
  1. The numerous proscriptions on worship has a “law-feel” to it. It seems that the denomination’s zeal to protect forms of worship that have been prevalent in the past, has resulted in losing touch with how worship can be renewed or unleashed to be relevant to the needs of post-WW II generations of believers, like me (a Boomer) and my younger sisters and brothers.
  1. How the CRCNA looks at worship (as well as outreach, evangelism and other factors) will determine whether or not the denomination continues its slide into the abyss of irrelevancy. My hope is that better days are ahead. My fear is that they are not. The jury (all of us, as CRCNA-ers) is still deliberating.

Thank you for stimulating my thinking about worship. My prayer is that there will be increased openness to where the Holy Spirit might lead us as a denomination so that no one is left behind. May we be infected with a health discomfort level about worship, while seeing it as an adventure on which God is leading us.  

          

AMEN.  Thanks for these insightful comments!