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History of Christian Worship

The Westminster Directory

In 1643, following the outbreak of civil war in England between the Puritan-controlled Parliament and the Anglican King Charles I, Parliament commissioned 150 ministers and lay leaders to draft a new confession, catechism, worship service, and form of government for England. Although this body, later known as the Westminster Assembly of Divines, was predominantly Presbyterian, almost a dozen Congregationalists were invited.

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A Baptist Model of Worship

Baptists emerged from a variety of Separatist congregations in seventeenth-century England. While Baptists disagreed theologically on the issue of predestination, they eventually came to share the same form of worship. Like the Congregationalists, Baptists looked to the Bible for their liturgical guidance. At the same time, early Baptists strongly emphasized the leading of the Spirit in worship and avoided a strict structuring of the Sunday service.

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A Quaker Model of Worship

The worship of the Friends is rooted in silence. The people wait upon the Holy Spirit, who in the silence moves them in worship, where they meet God.

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A Methodist Model of Worship: John Wesley’s Sunday Service Part I

The service below is strongly dependent on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

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A Methodist Model of Worship: John Wesley’s Sunday Service Part II

The service below is strongly dependent on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

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A Salvation Army Model of Worship

The earliest record of a Salvation Army worship service is found in the publications of William and Catherine Booth’s London East End ministry that began in the late 1860s.

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A Revival Model of Worship: Charles G. Finney

No orders of service from either of Charles G. Finney’s pastorates are extant. However, orders of service from the First Church in Oberlin, Ohio, are available from the pastorate of Finney’s successor, James Brand, dating from the 1890s—a full twenty-five years after Finney’s retirement. In addition, sermon notes (c.1850) from Finney’s son-in-law, James Monroe, containing order-of-service outlines, are also available.

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 An Adventist Model of Worship

Early Adventist worship was simple, informal, and vigorously nonliturgical. When the first church Manual was adopted, reluctantly, in 1883, it made no mention how regular worship services should be conducted. It did, however, lay down some guidelines for the “ordinances of the Lord’s house,” meaning the Lord’s Supper and the accompanying foot-washing service. Indeed, the earliest mention of an order of service for Adventist churches appears to be in a book published in 1906 by a prominent Colorado pastor, H. M. J.

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An African-American Model of Worship

We find diversity in the worship practices of African-Americans. This diversity results from differences in points of entry into and acceptance of the Christian faith, as well as denominational distinctions. However, there is a common history and heritage rooted in the religious life of Africans enslaved in America. There is sufficient documentation for the genesis of unique African-American worship styles in the imposed marginalization of Africans in America.

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A Restoration Model of Worship

Until the rise of the Stone-Campbell movement on the American frontier, the restoration movement that began in Britain was so fissiparous in spirit that much diversity in worship was inevitable. Eventually, however, a primitive model of worship based on the second chapter of Acts prevailed.

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