Worship and Sacred Actions Throughout the Year in Independent Fundamentalist and Evangelical Churches

Many independent churches and other evangelical churches with roots in revivalism have been most suspicious of any observance of liturgy in whatever form, especially observance of the church year. An anti-intellectual, anti-formal, and anti-liturgical mindset is part of the heritage of these churches. At the beginning of the twentieth century, many pastors had little seminary training and many had received their only education in a Bible school. Thus, they had little basis for appreciating liturgy. Hence clerical robes, use of candles, liturgical colors, and so forth were left for certain “formalist denominations” (Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and of course, the Roman Catholics). The independent church was not the choicest of soils for germination of worship renewal. Nevertheless, it has occurred and continues to grow.

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Worship and Sacred Actions Throughout the Year in Evangelical Denominations and Independent Baptist Churches

Most evangelical Baptist churches have little contact with the Christian year except on the Sunday before Christmas and Easter Sunday. Occasionally one can find a Good Friday service. Many parishioners feel that observance of the Christian year would distract from or even work against the primary mission of the church, which is to implement the Great Commission—making disciples from all nations and baptizing them. Widespread lack of knowledge about most of the themes of the Christian year is combined with a suspicion that those Christians who practice such “non-biblical” activities do so as a dry, unfulfilling ritual, which seems completely irrelevant in our age of spiritual freedom, freshness, and spontaneity from the Holy Spirit. Denominational publishing houses mirror these positions and provide no instruction, not even historical information, on the subject of the Christian year.

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