Observation on Implementation

In Reformed Baptist churches—those few of my experience—there are four elements of worship observed: congregational singing, public reading of Scripture, corporate prayer, and preaching. These are the four elements that tell you that you’re worshiping: if they are present, you are, if one is missing, you’re not. Add to that a weekly celebration of the supper and you have everything, saving the rare observance of a baptism. This is good because it is clear and stark. Your experience, after that, of going to another place where other random elements obtain will be one of bewilderment: why is this happening during church? Who decided they could do that in God’s presence? Why is the preacher drawing with chalk while easy-listening music plays? What is that group of people going to do? You aren’t going to wonder about things like that in a service at a Reformed Baptist church. What is missing in the Reformed Baptist way is an answer to the question: why are we doing this element now?

The answer is provided if you structure worship as a dialogue, which I have never experienced in the few Reformed Baptist congregations I’ve attended. I experience it in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church where a few of us Reformed Baptists are glad to sojourn being thankful for when the Lord makes no better option available. The sense that we are doing each element with an obvious order strikes me as a better practice, it makes the whole coherent. The effect, for me at least, of going from an Orthodox Presbyterian service to a Reformed Baptist is of losing that sense of reasoned order to one of arbitrary order, in the former the elements become more natural, in the latter they are more artificial.

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2 thoughts on “Observation on Implementation

  1. The logic of dialogue is the only thing missing at my RB church. Have you read Hart and Muether on this. The only additional element we observe is the occasional Sproul video on a Wednesday night.

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