Unique Themes of Reformed Worship

1. Reformed worship follows a biblical pattern of sin, salvation, and service.

The scriptural pattern of the Book of Romans as reflected in the Heidelberg Catechism of guilt, grace, and gratitude is also seen in the three-part flow of the worship of the Reformed Church in America:


Our approach to God is always filled with a sense of inadequacy as we stand, like Isaiah, as people of unclean hearts and less than faithful lives. Our genuine confession is met with a promise of grace as heard in the word both read and proclaimed. But the dialogue does not end there, for we are called Sunday after Sunday to pray for a world in need and work for a world filled with God's peace and justice.

Reformed worship follows the pattern of sin, salvation, and service as we approach God with confession, receive grace through word and sacrament, and respond with faithful prayers and lives.

2. Reformed worship embraces both form and freedom.

Some Christian traditions mandate the form of all the services of worship for use in their congregations, while other traditions provide total freedom for each congregation to create worship that feels right to them. The Reformed Church has embraced a middle position.

With one arm, the Reformed Church has embraced forms that are required when we celebrate the Lord's Supper and baptism. With the other arm, the RCA has encouraged the freedom for congregations to develop services that are responsive to their needs and gifts and consistent with the Reformed tradition.

Our common sacramental forms have nurtured a sense of a common identity and affection while congregational freedom has encouraged our growing diversity.

3. Reformed worship is deeply biblical.

The Reformed tradition places the reading and preaching of Scripture at the heart of worship. In addition we encourage those who lead worship to utilize biblical images and texts that will nurture a broad appreciation for God's revelation.

Reformed worship expresses our belief that biblical language and images can bridge the gap between who we are and who God calls us to become: signs of God's peace and justice in a world of war and privilege. And so not only preaching, but also all of Scripture assists us in creating worship that speaks in relevant ways to all who worship in our sanctuaries.

4. Reformed worship is missional.

It is no accident that what we do on Sunday morning is called a worship "service," and that what we do the rest of the week is our Christian "service."

Our service does not end with the benediction but rather continues into the week and into the world through lives of faith.

What this finally means is that the church is not only called to go into the world but that the world is passionately invited to come into the church. Reformed worship does not embrace mission as an optional component but perceives our commitment to "be sent" as essential to our call.

5. Reformed worship nurtures a commitment to both the head and the heart of those who sit in our places of worship.

At its best, Reformed worship helps create a warm, genuine piety that sings of a deep relationship with God through Jesus Christ. At the same time, Reformed worship teaches us how to love God with not only our minds but with our hearts as well. We are constantly being challenged to grow into disciples who follow Jesus with hearts and minds that are open to his leading.