The Conversational Form of Reformed Worship


Posted on  by Daniel L. Sonnenberg

I’ve been looking at historic and current models of Reformed worship: John Calvin’s The Form of Church Prayers, 1542The Westminster Directory, 1645; and The Book of Common Worship, 1993. They all follow the model of a “group conversation with God” as described in an article / Bible study from the Calvin Institute for Worship Studies entitled, “The Pattern of a Worship Service.
According to the article, this “Conversation Model” of worship can be seen in Psalms 95, 96, and 98 among others.  This worship liturgy is patterned after a “conversation or dialogue in which both God and the people speak and listen at alternate times.” The liturgy includes several main sections or ”elements:” The Gathering, The Renewal, The Word, The Response to the Word, The Lord’s Supper (when celebrated), and  The Dismissal or Sending.
Following is a helpful chart from the article describing the elements, their purposes, and possible components that might be included in each.
ELEMENT OF WORSHIP
PURPOSE
POSSIBLE INCLUSIONS
The Gathering The corporate conversation between God and his children begins. Prelude
Processional
The Call to Worship
Opening Litany/Sentences
Declaration of Trust
God’s Greeting
Songs
Introits
Anthems
Passing the Peace
Liturgical Dance
The Renewal As worshipers come into the presence of a holy God they acknowledge their sinfulness and seek forgiveness and renewal in God’s grace. The Call to Confession
The Prayer of Confession
The Assurance of Pardon
Response of Gratitude
Reading God’s Will
Sacrament of Baptism
Remembering our Baptism
Passing the Peace
The Word God’s Word is proclaimed so that his voice is heard and his people can be instructed, strengthened, and directed. The Children’s Moment
The Reading of Scripture
The Prayer for Illumination
Song of Preparation
The Sermon
The Prayer of Application
Anthem
Scripture Drama
The Response to God’s Word God’s Word always calls for a response on the part of those who hear it. Songs
Anthems
Prayers
Offerings
Expression of Commitment
Profession of the Creed
Affirmations of Faith
Liturgical Dance
Drama
The Lord’s Supper The major response of God’s people to his Word is remembering the body and blood of the Lord for us. Songs
Words of Welcome
Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Eating the Bread
Drinking the Cup
Profession of Faith
The Dismissal The corporate conversation between God and his people comes to an end and we take leave of each other. Songs
Liturgical Dance
Anthem
Words of Exhortation
The Benediction
Passing the Peace
The Postlude

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