Sacraments & Liturgy in Evangelical Churches
29 SEP 2017
Evangelical churches come in all shapes, sizes and beliefs. Yet, they do share some common characteristics. They all have a high view of the Bible, believe in the importance of evangelizing and hold conservative theological views. Forms of worship tend to be similar among evangelical churches, as well. Most evangelical churches reject liturgy outright. They often de-emphasize Holy Communion and practice baptism more often than do other strains of Christianity.
1 Free-Form Worship
Many evangelical churches prefer a worship service that's less formal and organized than, for example, a Roman Catholic service. While an evangelical worship service still has a set routine, it's not uncommon for the church to change that routine from week to week. One week might feature an extended time of singing hymns and praise choruses, while the next week might feature someone performing Christian music. The sermon is usually the centerpiece of the evangelical service, and it will often take up the longest share of time. Evangelicals describe this flexibility as "freedom in worship," and believe this sort of worship allows them to better respond to God in the moment.
2 Sacrament of Baptism
Like other Protestants, evangelicals typically practice two sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion. Evangelicals see baptism as the initiation of the believer into the body of Christ. They believe it is an outward indication that the person has accepted Christ as savior. Baptism doesn't necessarily grant immediate church membership for evangelicals, however. Many evangelicals hold baptismal services monthly, especially during times of rapid growth. While some evangelicals will baptize children, many other evangelicals will only baptize people of consenting age, usually age 13 and older.
3 Sacrament of Communion
Evangelical churches also celebrate Holy Communion. They may also refer to it as the Lord's Supper. Evangelicals rarely refer to communion as the Eucharist, and many reject the term outright. Holy Communion in an evangelical church might take place with grape juice and unleavened communion wafers. Some evangelical churches use loaves of modern bread instead of wafers. Evangelical churches rarely use wine in communion, as many have restrictions against consuming alcohol. Communion is celebrated infrequently in most evangelical churches, averaging about three or four times a year.
The liturgy is what gives Catholic, Orthodox and many Protestant Christians a framework in which to worship. Because the liturgy is usually the same from week to week only varying in the specific hymns, readings and homily, evangelicals tend to avoid it. Evangelicals often describe liturgical worship as "dead" or "emotionless," and some even suggest the liturgy inhibits the Holy Spirit's activity among the church. There is a small minority of evangelical denominations that do use liturgical forms of worship, and there is some speculation that liturgy is undergoing a resurgence among evangelicals.