Saturday, October 01, 2022

Saturday Lagniappe: 'Third-Party Report Details ACNA Leaders’ Inaction on Sexual Abuse Allegations' And More


Third-Party Report Details ACNA Leaders’ Inaction on Sexual Abuse Allegations
Released online late Tuesday, the report follows a monthslong investigation that was contentious from the start.

5 Deadly Sins of an Unhealthy Church
I have witnessed apathy and disobedience kill a church. Indeed, one can lead to the other.

It's All Grass
Jabe Largen learned a lesson or two from transforming the former site of an enormous produce market into a soccer field.

The Problem of Gospel-less Gospel-Centered Sermons
Is Jesus alive in your sermon?

Why We Sing
Jamie Brown explains why his church sings.

When Your Congregation Isn’t Singing: 15 Questions
when services regularly fall flat, and when the congregational singing is consistently paltry, what is a worship leader to do?

Swedish Full Communion
The Episcopal Church and the Church of Sweden (Lutheran) are now in full communion.

Friday, September 30, 2022

All Hallows Evening Prayer for Saturday Evening (October 1, 2022) Is Now Online

 

All Hallows Evening Prayer is a service of worship in the evening for all pilgrims on the journey to the heavenly city.

How comfortable are you with meeting and befriending people who are not practicing Christians and who may practice or identify with another religious faith or some other form of spirituality? How comfortable are you with telling them about Jesus?

The Scripture reading for this Saturday is 2 Timothy 1: 1-14 Paul encourages Timothy to be faithful.

The homily is titled “Not a Spirit of Timidity and Fear.”

The link to this Saturday evening’s service is—

https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/2022/09/all-hallows-evening-prayer-for-saturday_30.html

Please feel free to share the link to the service with anyone whom you believe might benefit from the service.

If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears. An ad may follow a song so as soon as the song is finished, close the tab.

Previous services are online at

https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/

May this service be a blessing to you.

The Renewed Ancient Text: An Evaluation with Suggestions for Its Use—The Liturgy of the Word

 

The first article in this series, "The Renewed Ancient Text: An Evaluation with Suggestions for Its Use—The Entrance Rite," may be read here.

By Robin G. Jordan

The Order for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper Renewed Ancient Text (or RAT) in the Anglican Church in North America’s 2019 Book of Common Prayer has its strengths as well as its weaknesses. A number of its strengths are found in the Liturgy of the Word of the rite. Among these strengths is that the rite makes provision for the reading of three lections from Scripture in this part of the service. This makes sense in the twenty-first century at a time when, most people, if they attend church at all, are only going to attend one service on Sunday morning or such other day on which services are offered. The only Scripture they may hear read during the week may be what Scripture is read at that service.

Reading three lections at the eucharist, four if one counts the gradual, the psalm or psalm portion or canticle recited or sung between the first two lections has precedence in the practice of the Gallican Rite, a family of rites within the Western Church, which comprised the majority use of most of Western Christianity for a greater part of the first millennium Anno Domine. The Gallican Rite was used from before the fifth century and until the middle or end of the eighth century. In this family of rites, it would become the practice at the eucharist to read three lections. The first lection was normally taken from the Old Testament with readings from the Acts of the Apostles substituted during the fifty days of Eastertide, or the Easter season.. The second lection was usually taken from the Epistles. These readings were replaced by ones from the Revelation to John during the Eastertide. The third lection was taken from on of the four Gospels.

This practice is far better suited to the realities of the twenty-first century mission field in North American and elsewhere than the practice of the Sarum Rite, a local version of the medieval Roman Rite that was developed at Salisbury Catedral and used from the eleventh century to the English Reformation, that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer adopted in the1549 and 1552 BCPs. It made provision for only two readings at the eucharist, one from the Epistles and occasionally the Old Testament and the other from the Gospels. While Cranmer made some changes in the lections, his adoption of this practice severely limited the amount of Scripture that was read at the eucharist. Cranmer may have not considered the drawbacks of this practice because he expected congregations of parish churches to attend daily morning and evening prayer throughout the week at which the Scriptures were read in course. This included on Sunday as well as the other days of the week.

The primary purpose of the daily offices in these two Prayer Books is the reading of Scripture, not prayer. The Litany was provided for that purpose on Sundays and other occasions. It was sandwiched between Mattins, or Morning Prayer, and the Holy Eucharist or Ante-Communion on Sunday morning. In practice far less people attended these daily services than Cranmer had expected. His scheme for “reducing the people to a most perfect and godly living” did not work as he hoped.

A frequent complaint heard in the seventeenth century was that despite fines and even imprisonment people were not taking part in the prayers. They were only coming to church to hear the sermon, arriving just before the sermon.

In the nineteenth century first in the United States and then in the United Kingdom the service of Morning Prayer would be separated from the Holy Eucharist. The result would be that in some churches Morning Prayer would become the preferred Sunday morning service, in others, the Holy Eucharist. While the priest might read the daily offices, few parishioners joined him. In a number of churches in which the priest had been strongly influenced by the practices of the nineteenth century Roman Catholic Church, the eucharist was celebrated without the congregation receiving communion, only the priest. The Protestant Episcopal Church would adopt a canon suppressing this practice.

The introduction of the reading of three lections at the eucharist was a breath of fresh air in the 1970s when the practice was first introduced and contributed to the revival of the eucharist as the central act of Christian worship on Sundays. Most of the more recent Anglican service books published since that time make provision for the reading of three lections at the eucharist. Some permit the reading of only two lections at weekday celebrations, and the 1979 BCP’s Order for Celebrating the Holy Eucharist requires at least one reading from the Gospels.

The Book of Common Prayer (International Edition) follows the Sarum Rite practice of only two readings at the eucharist, an Epistle reading and a Gospel reading, and makes no provision for an Old Testament reading. This is one of the book’s major drawbacks.

Considering that surveys show that Americans, while may own Bibles, do not regularly read them, and that the only Scripture to which churchgoers may be exposed is what is read at the service they attend on Sunday or some other occasion, liturgies that adopt the old Roman limitation on the amount of Scripture read at the eucharist are not helping to mitigate the growing Bible illiteracy in the United States. One of the criticisms that has been leveled at what is often described as contemporary worship is the dearth of Scripture in that worship. Typically, the most scripture that is read is the sermon text.

Two readings may be better than one, but it must be remembered that the Old Testament is the Bible of Jesus and the apostles, and they refer to it in their teaching. The Acts of the Apostles tells us the story of the early New Testament church and God’s extending of salvation not just to the Jews but also to non-Jews. The Revelation to John is relevant to today’s church.

A key principle in planning worship for a congregation is to tailor the service to the circumstances and needs of the congregation. Bishop Michael Marshall explains the importance of this principle in his book, Renewal in Worship (Morehouse-Barlow, 1985). While it may be tempting to try to replicate the worship practices of particular time in Church history, what matters most is planning worship that is doable within the limits of the particular circumstances of a congregation and which will engage the segment of the population at which the church is targeted. If a church is to grow and to flourish, the ministry target group of the church needs to be a broad one.

This does not mean tailoring the worship to the preferences of the clergy person in charge or congregation. Catering to their preferences can become a serious obstacle to the ability of a church to engage the unchurched. Their preferences must be balanced against the mission of the local church which is to spread the gospel and to make new disciples. Their preferences should not be permitted to so dominate worship planners’ decision-making that a church’s services themselves become a barrier to reaching a particular neighborhood, community, or other ministry target group.

In the Episcopal church that I helped plant and pioneer in the 1980s and 1990s, we concluded that we could not recreate in a storefront the ambiance that many Episcopalians have come to associate with Prayer Book worship and the Episcopal Church, and which might attract Episcopalians who were newly arrived to the area or who had not yet settled on a new church home. Instead, we focused on catching the more abundant fish swimming the same waters, couples in mixed marriages, individuals and families with a different church background or no church background. We created a warm, friendly atmosphere; did what we could to make people of all ages, married and single, feel at home; kept our celebrations relatively simple, unadorned, and informal; and used an eclectic mix of then contemporary and traditional music from a variety of sources, including the Catholic Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Vineyard, and the Episcopal Church’s own Community of Celebration, as well as what was then the new hymnal. We launched small group Bible studies, using the Serendipity study Bible. We also formed intercessory prayer teams to pray for people after they had received communion if they needed prayer. The church would quickly go from a mission to the diocese’s fastest growing parish. For people who found the church too non-traditional for their liking, there was the church which had planted the new church, and which was also growing.

I learned from this experience that a new church should be allowed to develop its own identity and not for the clergy person in charge or one segment of the congregation to try to impose an identity on the new church. This identity is likely to reflect their preferences and tastes in music and worship and may not be suited for the locality in which the church has been planted. Two strongly traditionalist churches launched around the same time, using the 1928 BCP and The Hymnal, 1940, both failed. They had too small a base, and they lacked the flexibility needed to engage the area’s unchurched.

Let’s now take a look at the so-called Renewed Ancient Text’s Liturgy of the Word.

The Liturgy of the Word. The Liturgy of the Word is one of the two main parts of the Holy Eucharist. In the RAT it is comprised o the Lessons, the Sermon, the Nicene Creed, and the Prayers of the People.

The Lessons. The segment of the Liturgy of the Word labeled “The Lessons” is taken from almost word for word the 1979 BCP as a comparison of the corresponding part of the Rite II Holy Eucharist with the RAT shows. The rubric giving permission for a psalm, hymn, or anthem to follow each reading. This rubric permits the singing of a gospel acclamation, an alleluia with or without verses or a Lenten acclamation with or without verses, before the reading of the Gospel—a practice that simplifies worship planning for small and large congregations. I will offer further suggestions on the use of music in the RAT in a later article in this series.

Like the 1979 BCP, the 2019 BCP requires that a priest or a deacon read the gospel. A growing number of Anglican service books permit an authorized lay person to read the gospel, or they do not specify who the reader should be. While it is customary in the Roman Catholic Church for only a priest or deacon to read the gospel, the use of a lay person to read the gospel is a reminder that proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ is the responsibility of all Christians, and not just the clergy. The use of lay persons to read all the lessons, and not just the Old Testament lesson or the Old Testament lesson and the Epistle, encourages maximum congregation participation in the service and gives expression to the corporate nature of the People of God. It also recognizes that the only priesthood for Christians is the priesthood which all Christians share—the priesthood of all believers.

The Sermon. The exposition of the Word immediately follows the proclamation of the Word. The preacher is able to explain truths and principles expressed in in the Lessons while the words of the Lesson are fresh in the minds of the members of the congregation. When a creed, notices, banns, biddings for prayers are read before the sermon and a hymn is sung, they act like the birds in the Parable of the Sower, which flew down and gobbled up the seed before it had any opportunity to germinate and sprout. The only thing that should follow the reading of the gospel is silence for reflection and the sermon. If the gospel has been read from the midst of the congregation, the gospel procession should return in silence to where its participants sit.

The Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed occupies its original position after the sermon in the two eucharistic rites in the 2019 BCP. 

Except at baptisms, only the Nicene Creed may be used at 2019 BCP celebrations of the eucharist. This is a departure from what has been a long practice in the American Prayer Book, which has permitted the alternative use of the Apostles Creed since 1789. Even the 2011 revision of the Roman Rite permits the substitution of the Apostles’ Creed for the Nicene Creed during Lent and Eastertide.

The 2019 BCP gives permission for the omission of the Filoque clause from the Nicene Creed, which represents a significant departure from historic Anglican belief. The version of the Nicene Creed affirmed in the Anglican Church’s Articles of Religion, its historic confession of faith, includes the Filoque clause. To my knowledge there is no consensus among the provinces of the Anglican Communion regarding the omission of this clause, and its omission is an unwarranted innovation on the part of the Anglican Church in North America.

Public recitation of a creed has not always been an essential part of the worship of the Christian Church. While the Nicene Creed would be subsequently used as a safeguard against heresy--Arianism, it was originally introduced in the eucharist by heretics—the Monophysites—in the sixth century. It was not adopted as a part of the Roman Rite until the eleventh century and then its use was limited to Sundays and festivals. The Pope saw no need for it, but the Holy Roman Emperor insisted! The 1549 BCP permitted its omission from the eucharist when the eucharist was celebrated on weekdays or in private houses.

Due to its history William Palmer Ladd in Prayer Book Interleaves (Oxford University Press 1942, 1943; Seabury Press, 1957) recommended its omission from the eucharist as a way of shortening the service. He also recommended omitting the confession of sin and the absolution and shortening the eucharistic prayer.

A number of more recent Anglican service books permit the use of other authorized Affirmations of Faith, including the Apostles’ Creed and the Athanasian Creed, in place of the Nicene Creed.

“We Believe in God the Father,” hymn paraphrase of the Apostles’ Creed, written by noted British hymn writer, Bishop Timothy-Dudley Smith, was especially commissioned for use with the services of the Church of England’s Common Worship (2000).

We believe in God the Father,
God almighty, by whose plan
earth and heaven sprang to being,
all created things began.
We believe in Christ the Saviour,
Son of God in human frame,
virgin-born, the child of Mary
upon whom the Spirit came.

Christ, who on the cross forsaken,
like a lamb to slaughter led,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
he descended to the dead.
We believe in Jesus risen,
heaven’s king to rule and reign,
to the Father’s side ascended
till as judge he comes again.

We believe in God the Spirit;
in one Church, below, above:
saints of God in one communion,
one in holiness and love.
So by faith, our sins forgiven,
Christ our Saviour, Lord and friend,
we shall rise with him in glory
to the life that knows no end.


It may be sung to any 87.87. or 87.87D. tune.

As a safeguard against heresy, the Nicene Creed has proven to be ineffectual. A recent survey shows that Arianism is alive and well in the United States. I have personally had conversations with at least one person who had very unorthodox views of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, who could recite the Nicene Creed with equanimity, interpreting it to fit with their own theological views.

The Prayers of the People. Additional petitions and thanksgivings may be added to the form printed in the RAT. A lay person may lead the Prayers of the People. The omission of the congregational responses from the form printed in the so-called Traditional Anglican Text is not recommended as it denies the congregation a role in the prayer.

The Additional Directions Concerning Holy Communion, which follow the RAT permit the use of the Prayers of the People beside the form printed in the 2019 BCP’s two eucharistic rites. This would include forms found in the service books of other denominations as well as those of other Anglican provinces, provided they meet the requirements prescribed in these directions.

A number of Anglican service books permit the congregation to join in these words at the conclusion of the Prayers of the People:

Heavenly Father, grant these our prayers for the sake of Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The Exhortation, the Confession and Absolution of Sin, the Comfortable Words, the Peace and the Offertory are ancillary rites to the Liturgy of Table, and I will examine them in my article on the Liturgy of the Table.

It is noteworthy that what the 2019 BCP labels “The Offertory” in two eucharistic rites is no longer recognized as a separate rite. The 2019 BCP represents from a liturgical perspective an outdated view of the ingathering and presentation of the people’s gifts and the preparation of the table.

While the Additional Directions make provision for what is often described as a Deacon’s Mass or a Mass of the Pre-consecrated Elements, they make no provision for a service of Ante-Communion, a longstanding practice in the Anglican Church, a service consisting of the Liturgy of the Word. This enables a congregation which lacks its own priest to continue to use the order of service to which it is accustomed. Indeed, a major drawback of the 2019 BCP is that provides no alternative forms for a Service of the Word when Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer or the Holy Eucharist do not meet the needs of a particular congregation. Most of the more recent Anglican service books contain one or more forms for a Service of the Word in addition to the Daily Offices and the Holy Eucharist.

Friday's Catch: 'Free Spiritual and Emotional Care Toolkit for Hurricane Ian' And More


Free Spiritual and Emotional Care Toolkit for Hurricane Ian
Care for disaster survivors--and yourself--with these free resources.

4 Ways to Move Your Church from Inward to Outward Focused
The natural trajectory of the church is to drift inward, but its design and destiny is to move outward.

Do Denominations Matter?
A majority of pastors with denominational affiliation believe it is vital to be part of a denomination, but a majority also believe that the importance of identifying with a denomination will diminish over the next 10 years.

Christian Nationalism Cannot Save the World
Do not fall for secularism disguised as a kind of Great Commission.

Important Trends Among Church Plants and Multisite Campuses
Church plants and multisite campuses start in a variety of ways under many circumstances. But God is faithful to advance His kingdom.

Building a Building Committee
Todd Brown shares 4 critical components when assembling a building committee.

The Most Dangerous Type of Christian Parenting 
Aaron Earls explains two different types of Christian parenting.

Want to Survive College? Join a Church. 
Shelby Abbot explains why he urges young people and all college students to be committed members of a local church.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Come Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire (Veni Creator Spiritus)—A New Setting of an Old Hymn


By Jamie Brown

Last year, I was ordained a priest in the Anglican Church of North America. I first sensed the call to ordained ministry in my teens and 20’s, but was reluctant to say “yes” to the Lord. Long story short: God eventually got my attention! I said “yes”, and was honored to be ordained in 2021. There’s an ancient prayer and hymn of the church called “Veni Creator Spiritus” (or Come Holy Ghost, Our Souls Inspire). You’ll often hear this hymn in liturgical churches on or around Pentecost. And in the Anglican tradition, it’s also sung in an ordination service for a priest.

For my ordination service, my friend Zach Sprowls and I wrote a new arrangement for this ancient text. I took the first stab at it, then Zach improved it, and made it much less boring! Zach also then arranged it for a string quartet. I was delighted to have another good friend of mine, Jordan Ware, sing it in the service. Read More


Download PDF file of free orchestration.
Hymn writers and composers in the Anglican Church in North America are producing some litugical music that would be a great addition to the music repertoire of liturgical churches not only in the Anglican tradition but also other traditions. In my search for hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs for use in All Hallows Evening Prayer, I have come across a lot of music that would enrich the worship life of small congregations as well as large ones from Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, and other sources. I am planning to share this music on Anglicans Ablaze as well as my Facebook page.

Thursday's Catch: 'Interfaith Group Hosts Hill Briefing on Christian Nationalism' And More


Interfaith Group Hosts Hill Briefing on Christian Nationalism
While from an interfaith perspective Christian Nationalism represents a major threat to the freedom of religion in the United States, Christian Nationalism from an orthodox Christian perspective is a serious threat to the gospel and the Christian faith. The adherence of its loudest proponents to the message, teaching, and example of Christ is negligible, if not non-existent.

American Evangelicals Want Balanced Approach to Immigration
Most evangelicals in the U.S. say they want an immigration solution that both secures the border and values those already in the country.

Why The Church Should Lead In Building the Future With Migrants and Refugees
Our view of God grows because of our interactions and relationships with those who came from different countries.

10 Reasons I Would Seek to Raise Up Staff within My Church
More and more churches are deciding to raise up staff from within their congregation. While Chucklawless wondered about that direction when it first began to gain steam, he has come to see the value of it. Here are 10 reasons he encourage churches to consider this option.

4 Steps to Train New Volunteers
As church leaders, we must walk alongside and train new volunteers to feel both competent and confident to serve each week.

Ten Bad Church Work Habits Every Pastor Should Avoid
A habit is an ongoing tendency with a pattern of behavior that is difficult to change. Bad habits can develop in church workplaces like in any other place of employment. Sam Rainer has assembled a top-ten list of some common bad work habits among church leaders.

A Little Encouragement for the More Senior Pastor Who’s Been Doing It Right for Years
Nearly all of the attention and encouragement given to pastors in conferences, podcasts, books, videos, or otherwise, is pointed to a stereotype of a younger pastor who is out there trying to change the world.

Fifteen lies Satan tells you about Scripture
Here are fifteen ways that Joe McKeever has identified that the evil one seeks to destroy our confidence in confidence in God’s Word.

The Best Security Radios for Churches– 3 Great Options
Church security is becoming more and more of an issue, and because of that, churches all over the country are opting to improve their security through the use of security systems and by having the best security radios on hand.

Four Leading Indicators of Small Groups That Make Disciples
Mark Howell offers a st of leading indicators that are short-term predictors of small groups that make disciples.
For more articles on small groups and small group ministry, visit Mark Howell Live.
6 Ways to NOT Lead a Small Group
A lot of dynamics come into play when facilitating a small group. Here are six ways you should NOT lead a small group.

Don’t Know How to Help? Try Visiting
Even if we can’t directly solve the problem, we can still serve the person.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Wednesday's Catch: 'Celebrating Small but Significant Churches' And More


Celebrating Small but Significant Churches
When small churches are true to what they are and what they have been called to do, they too can make a big impact.

What Small Churches Teach Us About Meaningful Membership
There are three relational dynamics present in small churches that are crucial for developing a meaningful membership.

Build from the Outside in
Audrey Warren shares her thoughts on how local churches should respond when their neighborhoods change.

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn Suicide
Caring for people in pain requires a rich theology of suffering.

Becoming Your Church's Cheerleader
Churches need cheerleaders too.

Worship Leading: 4 Major Ways To Improve
Mark Cole gives four main areas that worship leaders should consider for growth in their personal worship leading journey.

The Child among Us
Jesus welcomed and ministered to children. How about your church?

Small Church Youth Ministry: Ideas to Help You (and Kids) Thrive
In this YS Idea Lab, Stephanie Caro shares a few of her best ideas for small church youth ministry.

7 Reasons to Have Teenagers in your Ministry
One caution: don't turn the nursery over solely to teen workers. This does not fly well with parents.

All Hallows Evening Prayer for Wednesday Evening (September 28, 2022) Is Now Online

 


All Hallows Evening Prayer is a service of worship in the evening for all pilgrims on the journey to the heavenly city.

If we go to the seashore on a clear day and look out to sea, we will see rolling waves stretching off into the horizon. God’s compassion and mercy are far greater than the expanse of the sea. If we go into the countryside on a clear night to a place where there is no light pollution and look up at the night sky, we will see a vast black expanse, dotted with countless stars. God’s compassion and mercy are far greater than the expanse of the night sky.

The Scripture reading for this Wednesday is Jeremiah 26 The Lord warns the people of Judah and their king.

The homily is titled “God Is Not a Quitter.”

The link to this Wednesday evening’s service is—

https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/2022/09/all-hallows-evening-prayer-for_28.html

Please feel free to share the link to the service with anyone whom you believe might benefit from the service.

If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears. An ad may follow a song so as soon as the song is finished, close the tab.

Previous services are online at

https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/

May this service be a blessing to you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

The Renewed Ancient Text: An Evaluation with Suggestions for Its Use—The Entrance Rite

 


By Robin G. Jordan

In this article series I am going to take a look at the Order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper, Renewed Ancient Text of The Book of Common Prayer (2019), a service book which incidentally, while it is promoted by its compilers and the College of Bishops, has never been formally adopted as the official Prayer Book of the Anglican Church in North America. 

Like a lot of things in the ACNA the title of this rite is pretentious. While the eucharistic prayer is based in part on the Anaphora of the Apostolic Tradition, also known as the Anaphora of Hippolytus, it is not as “ancient” as its compilers would like us to believe, a fact which throws into question the accuracy of labeling as “renewed.” As we shall see, it is not the only eucharistic prayer or draft eucharistic prayer, which is based in part on this early anaphora. 

In this first article in the series, I examine the entrance rite of the so-called “Renewed Ancient Text.”

The Entrance Rite. Historically the entrance rite of the Holy Eucharist is one of three places in the liturgy which accumulates clutter, typically fossilized elements from earlier rites but also more recent innovations. Generally, committees and commissions tasked with revising the liturgy have sought to reduce the clutter either by eliminating some elements or making them optional.

The compilers of the 2019 BCP did the opposite: they added to the clutter. Rather than having been influenced by the earliest liturgies and the longstanding Anglican principles of noble simplicity and “less is more,” principles which the Roman Catholic Church shameless borrowed in the 1960s with the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, they show a decided leaning toward late Medieval and post-Tridentian nineteenth century forms of the Roman Catholic Mass, forms associated with the various editions of the so-called Anglican Missal. They showed a proclivity for making rites and service more elaborate and longer rather than making them simpler and shorter and consequently more understandable, principles articulated in Thomas Cranmer’s essays in the 1549 and 1552 BCPs and characteristic of Anglican worship at its best.

The earliest form of the entrance rite was simply a brief greeting, immediately followed by the first Scripture reading. Later an opening prayer would be added to the greeting. The psalmody that was sung before the liturgy was originally a part of the daily office, and not the eucharist.

When Christian worship was moved from private houses into public buildings, a procession eventually became a part of the entrance rite of the eucharist and the singing of a psalm, the introit, or entrance psalm, which in the Medieval times would be reduced to a snippet, accompanied the procession. The rubrics of the 1979 BCP’s Rite II Holy Eucharist permit a rough approximation of the entrance rite at this stage in its development. After the opening acclamation an entrance hymn, psalm, or canticle may be sung, followed by the salutation, and the collect of the day.

Ideally the opening acclamation, a recent addition to the entrance rite of the Holy Eucharist in the global Anglican Church, should have been optional, enabling congregations to replicate the simplicity of the earlier entrance rite, a good feature for small congregations celebrating the eucharist in informal settings. Despite the drawback of an opening acclamation which cannot be omitted, the entrance rite of the Rite II Holy Eucharist of the 1979 BCP is far more flexible than that of entrance rite of the Renewed Ancient Text and far more suited to the wide variety of conditions found on the twenty-first century North American mission field.

The compilers of the 2019 BCP do not appear to have given much thought to the needs of congregations on the mission field, suggesting that they themselves were not acquainted with the challenges of planting and pioneering a new church in the twenty-first century. This author writes from the perspective of someone who has been involved in four successful church plants, a now disbanded traditional church, and a downtown church trying to cope with the new realities of COVID-19 era and has a fair idea of what will work and will not work on the mission field in the United States and Canada. I don’t claim to be an expert but do try to keep up with how conditions on the mission field are evolving and changing. We are not living in the 1950s or the 1980s.

Let’s take a look at the different elements whose use in the entrance rite is required by the rubrics of the Renewed Ancient Text, hereinafter referred to as the “RAT,” and those whose use is optional. 

Opening Acclamation. The compilers of 2019 BCP were not satisfied to encumber the RAT with three opening acclamations. They sought to outdo the 1979 BCP’s Rite II Holy Eucharist with a slew of unnecessary seasonal greetings in addition to the three opening acclamations which have found their way into a number of more recent Anglican service books. The opening acclamation or seasonal greeting is not optional. A number of the seasonal greetings are unwieldy and are evidence of the compilers of RAT’s propensity for making more elaborate and longer what should be kept simple and short. They cause the entrance rite to drag from the outset. It would have been much better to have given worship planners the option of using a seasonal sentence of Scripture if the use of seasonal hymns, psalms, readings, and prayers was not enough to mark the season. The seasonal greetings are superfluous as are the three opening acclamations. The opening acclamation was not introduced into the Holy Eucharist until the trial services of the 1970s, which resulted in the Episcopal Church’s 1979 BCP.

Collect for Purity. The earliest anything approximating the Collect for Purity became a part of the Holy Eucharist was in the eleventh century. The Collect for Purity was originally a collect found in the Sarum rite which the priest said after the Veni Creator Spiritus as a part of the priest’s private preparations as he vested for Mass. It was not until the 1552 BCP that the Collect for Purity was made a part of the public service. In 1549 BCP the priest privately recited the Lord’s Prayer and the Collect for Purity while the clerks sung the introit. It was a part of the priest’s private devotions.

Unlike the rubrics of the 1979 BCP’s Rite II Holy Eucharist, the rubrics of the RAT do not permit the omission of the Collect of Purity, a feature of the Rite II Holy Eucharist that recognizes that the Collect for Purity was originally a private devotion and not a part of the public service. They do permit the congregation to join in the Collect for Purity, a feature in a number of more recent Anglican service books which recognizes that it is a prayer of preparation in which the entire worshiping assembly should take part. The RAT would have greatly benefitted if the Collect for Purity had been made optional and when it was used, the rubrics would have required that it should be said by all, not just the priest. This is a feature in a number of the more recent Anglican service books.

Summary of the Law or Decalogue. The Summary of the Law was first substituted for the Decalogue in the Holy Eucharist in a Non-Juror liturgy of 1718. The rubrics of the 1789 revision of the Prayer Book permitted its use in addition to the Decalogue. The rubrics of the 1892 revision permitted its use in place of the Decalogue, permitting the omission of the Decalogue except at one service on Sunday. The rubrics of the 1928 revision permitted the Decalogue’s omission except at one service on one Sunday of the month. The rubrics of more recent Anglican service books, including the 1979 BCP, permit the omission of both the Decalogue and the Summary of the Law.

The Decalogue did not become a part of the Holy Eucharist until the 1552 BCP. Subsequent revisions of the Prayer Book have permitted the use of the Summary of the Law as an alternative to the Decalogue, shortened the Decalogue in various ways by limiting the number of congregational responses, and permitted its omission as well as the omission of the Summary of the Law. The 2019 BCP is unusual in that requires the use of the Summary of the Law if the Decalogue is not used. In earlier Prayer Books that permitted the use of the Summary of the Law, it was the other way around.

It has been never clear why Archbishop Thomas Cranmer added the Decalogue to the Holy Eucharist, whether he was imitating one of the Continental Reformed Churches’ liturgies, he regarded it as a fixed Old Testament lesson, or he saw it as a part of the penitential preparation culminating in the General Confession later in the service. All three theories have their supporters.

One of the characteristics of Cranmer’s services is that they tend to be more didactic than they are devotional. Since the Prayer Book Catechism emphasizes the Ten Commandments as well as the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, his purpose may have been to remind would-be communicants of God’s moral law as a part of their preparation to receive the sacramental bread and wine. The focus of Cranmer’s Holy Communion service is communion. All the major elements of the service lead up to the distribution of the elements. The prayer said before their distribution, while it has come to be viewed as serving a consecratory function, is when it is compared to the Continental Reformed Churches’ liturgies more in the nature of a prayer for the communicants.

In any event the Decalogue and the Summary of the Law are not essential elements of the Holy Eucharist and can be omitted. The 2019 BCP’s retention of these elements appears to be dictated by tradition rather than theological necessity. They fall into the category of clutter accumulated by the entrance rite and can slow the pace of the entrance rite, making it unnecessarily ponderous. Worshipper planners should have the option of omitting them. 

Too many elements in the entrance rite can not only keep the service from getting off to a good start, but they can also disrupt the flow of the service and make the worship experience boring, tiresome, and dull to first time guests who are accustomed to more energetic celebrations of the Holy Eucharist. While we may prefer a more leisurely-paced service, we cannot assume that other people do. Pacing and flow are two factors that we should always consider in planning a service.

Kyrie or Trisagion. The use of a nine-fold Kyrie, without tropes, on its own, was a feature of the entrance rite of the Holy Eucharist in the 1549 BCP. While the use of Kyrie eleison as a response to the petitions of a litany was introduced in the Eastern Church as early as the fourth century and was introduced in the Western Church in the fifth century, its subsequent use in various ways in the Western Church since that time does not support the 2019 BCP’s compilers’ claim that the RAT is ancient. The Kyrie was dropped from the 1552 BCP and was not reintroduced until 1892 BCP and then in a threefold version after the Summary of the Law when the Decalogue was omitted. The rubrics of the 1979 BCP permit the optional use of the Kyrie on occasions when the Gloria in Excelsis or some other song of praise is not used. The use of both the Kyrie and the Gloria in Excelsis, a feature of the 1549 BCP’s Holy Eucharist’s entrance rite, is a late medieval development.

In Manual on the Liturgy—The Lutheran Book of Worship (Augusburg, 1979) Philip H. Pfatteicher and Carlos R. Messerli make this observation:

“What became the traditional entrance rite of the Western church (Introit, Kyrie, Gloria in Excelsis, Collect) is a reflection of the elaborate entrance the pope used to make into the churches of Rome. The processional psalm, which in the Introit shrank to a fragment of a psalm (usually one verse) with antiphon and Gloria Patri, and the Kyrie, and the Gloria I Excelsis were all sung in procession; the collect was then said as a “station collect” at the conclusion of the entrance when at last all were in their places. This elaborate rite, designed originally to cover the ceremonies of a papal visit, is far more than necessary or perhaps even desirable as a constant practice." (pp. 210-211).

They go on to make suggestions as to when the Kyrie should be used with the Gloria in Excelsis, when it should be used alone; and when it should be used with some other song of praise.

One of the consequences of the compilers of the 2019 BCP’s decision to overload the RAT’s entrance rite with too many required but unnecessary elements is that the entrance rite is not only ill-suited to the various non-traditional settings in which the congregations of new church plants worship but also to the size of the congregation. Many small congregations have limited resources and lack to wherewithal to pull off such an elaborate rite. It looks decidedly out of place in the storefronts, community rooms, school cafeterias and gymnasiums, mortuary chapels, and other settings in which new congregations often gather for worship.

The Trisagion also has a pedigree that goes back to the first five centuries of Christianity. However, it was not used as a part of the Holy Eucharist in Anglican and Episcopal Churches until the second half of the twentieth century. An Australian Prayer Book (1978) and the 1979 BCP were the first Anglican service books to use it as an alternative to the Kyrie in the place with which it is associated in the Eastern and Gallican liturgies. Before that time a metrical paraphrase of the Trisagion was used in the burial office. Its use in the entrance rite does not warrant labeling the RAT as “renewed” or “ancient.” Since the late 1970s the use of the Trisagion in the entrance rite has been incorporated into the Holy Eucharist of several Anglican Provinces.

Gloria in Excelsis or Song of Praise. In the early Western rites, a variable hymn, a song of praise that was sung daily or frequently in the daily office and therefore familiar and popular with the congregation, was sung at this point in the Holy Eucharist. In the Gallican rite this hymn was typically the Benedictus Dominus Deus. The Gloria in Excelsis, which had been a part of the morning office since the fourth century was one of these options and appears to have been one of the more popular daily office canticles. The Gloria in Excelsis did not become a fixed element in the entrance rite of the Holy Eucharist, except during Advent, Pre-Lent, and Lent, until the eleventh or twelfth century, first in the Roman rite and subsequently in the Ambrosian, Mozarabic, and Celtic rites, replacing the other options in these rites.

The 1979 BCP led the way in restoring the use of a variable song of praise at this point in the liturgy in the Anglican Communion and several other Anglican Provinces have followed suit. The Lutheran Book of Worship (1979) pioneered the restoration of this practice in the Lutheran Churches. The 1979 BCP permit the omission of the Kyrie or Trisagion when the Gloria in Excelsis or some other song of praise is used, and the Lutheran Book of Worship makes both the Kyrie and the Hymn of Praise optional. The 2019 BCP, on the other hand, only makes the song of praise optional so worship planners are limited to choosing between an entrance rite suited for penitential occasions or one suited for a visit from the Pope!

It must be noted that previous editions of the American Prayer Book from 1789 on had permitted the use of a hymn or doxology in the place of the Gloria in Excelsis when the rubrics made provision for its use after the distribution of communion as in the 1662 BCP.

In Joyful Noise: Teaching Music in Small Churches—A Walk Through the Eucharist Musically, produced by The Episcopal Radio-TV Foundation in 1984, Jerry Godwin of The Standing Committee on Church Music observes that singing an entrance hymn and then a Kyrie, Trisagion, or song of praise may be too demanding for many small congregations. He recommends that these congregations omit the Collect for Purity and sing the entrance song in place of the song of praise, preceded by the opening acclamation and followed by the salutation and the Collect of the Day. Byron Stuhlman makes a similar recommendation for simplifying the entrance in Prayer Book Rubrics Expanded  (Church Publishing, 1987). This is good advice. Reciting the Kyrie, Trisagion, Gloria in Excelsis, or some other song of praise is lame in a celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

Regrettably the 2019 BCP does not permit this option since it has too many fixed elements in the entrance rites of its two orders for the Holy Eucharist, one of the reasons that they are ill-suited for the mission field on which greater flexibility is required. Unless the bishop of the diocese with which a congregation is affiliated has given specific instructions for how the 2019 BCP is to be used in the diocese, worship planners may wish to consider ignoring the rubrics and tailoring the entrance rite of the RAT to their congregation’s needs. 

For example, omitting the opening acclamation, using a song of praise for the entrance song, and substituting a Scriptural greeting such as Ruth 2:4 “The Lord be with you; the Lord bless you” before the collect of the day and not the salutation that is printed in the rite and which is not found in Scripture is one option.

The late Louis Weil recommended the use of a metrical version of the Gloria in Excelsis in place of the prose version in congregations that have a large number of children, cannot not sing chant, or otherwise were prevented from singing the prose version. A number of hymn writers, including Carl P. Daw, Jr., Christopher Ingle, Edwin LeGrice, and Michael Perry have written metrical versions of the Gloria in Excelsis. Evangelical Lutheran Worship’s Holy Communion Setting 10 has metrical versions of all the Ordinaries of the Mass.

Salutation. The salutation, “The Lord be with you; and with your spirit” printed in the RAT is not found in the Bible. It is an artificial construct, which takes a phrase from Ruth 2:4, “The Lord be with you,” and combines it with a phrase, “with your spirit,” from Paul’s parting words to Timothy from his second letter to Timothy. Paul closes the letter with these words. “May the Lord be with your spirit. And may his grace be with all of you” (2 Timothy 4: 22). It is a later development. In the earliest liturgies the opening greeting was “Peace be with you” or “The Lord be with you,” to which the congregation responded, “And also with you.” The first greeting was a common greeting in Judaea, Jerusalem, and the Jewish Diaspora between Jews. The second greeting is a variation of the greeting which Boaz gave to the harvesters in Ruth 2: 4 and to which they responded. The rubrics that follow the RAT permit the use of the second greeting in place of the salutation, “The Lord be with you; and with your spirit.” The Scottish Episcopal Church has restored the use of the version of Ruth 2: 4 greeting found in most Bible translations, “The Lord be with you; the Lord bless you,” in a number of its liturgies.

Among the reasons that Archbishop Thomas Cranmer dropped the salutation from the 1552 order for the Holy Eucharist was its long association with the doctrine of transubstantiation. It had become to be viewed as a prayer for the priest for grace to confect the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. It was not reintroduced into the Holy Eucharist until the 1928 BCP. Its use as a prayer for the priest for this purpose is also a part of the rationale for its use in the two orders for the Holy Eucharist in the 2019 BCP. Anglicans who do not subscribe to the doctrine of transubstantiation or to any other doctrine that teaches that Christ is substantively present in the communion elements after their consecration or Christ’s presence is infused with the elements or imparted to them during consecration will not want to use this salutation. They may choose to us, “The Lord be with you; and also with you,” or “The Lord be with you; the Lord bless you.” They may wish to drop it altogether.

Collect of the Day. A short prayer is one of the first things that would be introduced between opening greeting and the Scripture readings. The Collect of the Day, or the Prayer of the Day, as it is called in Lutheran Holy Communion services, concludes the entrance rite. 

Some Angican service books provide in their rubrics for the use of additional collects for special occasions (e.g., Mission Sunday) after the Collect of the Day at the eucharist. The RAT makes no such provision. 

Like the gathering and presentation of the people’s gifts, including the bread and the wine, and the preparation of the table, the entrance rite and closing rite are ancillary rites. They are minor rites that should not be allowed to overshadow the Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Table, the two chief parts of the Holy Eucharist. The compilers of the 2019 BCP do not appear to have fully grasped the subsidiary nature of these rites. As a consequence, the book’s two orders for the Holy Eucharist, which are upon close examination the same order with different eucharistic prayers, are front-heavy. This can be attributed at least in part by what appears to be a fascination not with ancient rites but with late Medieval ones and their post-Tridentian Roman Catholic successors.

In the next article in this series I will examine the Liturgy of the Word in 2019 BCP's Order for the Administration of the Lord's Supper, Renewed Ancient Text. 

Tuesday's Catch: 'Rebuilding Church Community: What’s Actually Working?' And More


Rebuilding Church Community: What’s Actually Working?
Pastors respond.

Six Types of People Today’s Church Leaders Have to Try to Sepherd in a Single Congregation...
To help you better understand one of the many challenges church leaders face in shepherding the flock of God put into their care, it’s important to understand that in each congregation you’ll likely find a mix of these six types of people attending that local church....

Anatomy of a Sick Church – 10 Symptoms to Watch
While there are many potential symptoms of a sick church, Thom Rainer has found ten to be consistently common.

The Bitter Splinters of Marburg
"It is indeed ironic that Zwingli would have ardently repudiated what has come to be called the “Zwinglian” position on the presence of Christ at his Table — namely, that the Lord’s Supper is simply a memorial."

Help! I’m Scared to Pray in a Group
We are not tied together by the ability to utter profound thoughts or smooth words but by Christ himself.

In Hard Times, God Gives Us the Gift of His Spirit
This Scripture has three traits plus instruction that are a guide from heaven about where we can turn when we don’t know what else to do.

Progressive Views on Sexuality Will Ultimately Fail
In this article Trevin Wax argues that the disappearance of the traditional Christian view of sexual morality and marriage is not inevitable as the progressivism' narrative on this issues would lead people to believe.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Monday's Catch: 'Small Church, Small Impact? It Might Actually Be the Opposite' And More


Either the glass is half full, or it’s half empty. We’ve all heard this expression before, and many of us find that we land on one side or the other as we approach life and work.

What Does the Bible Say About Domestic Abuse? 
You know a victim of domestic abuse.

What Kind of Church Hospitality Are People Looking For?
What kind of hospitality are guests looking for when they walk through your church doors on Sunday? Here are four things to keep in mind.

From Grace to Good Works: Growing in Holiness
What is the role of good works in Christian life? How do good works contribute to our salvation? What is holiness?

Five Reasons Why Decreasing the Number of Worship Services Might Be the Best Move
As Thom Rainer points to his readers' attention, decreasing the number of Sunday morning services may not be the best option for some churches. It can bring with it a hornet's nest of problems!

5 BIG Things Missing from Modern Worship
The services of too many churches are missing a lot of the elements that used to be hallmarks of Christian worship.

7 Ways to Create a Family Worship Culture in Your Home
In a society of darkness that targets the hearts and minds of our children, our role as parents is to anchor them in the light of Christ. We must boldly contend for the truth by teaching our children that their identity is in Christ and his Word rather than within themselves. One way to do this is through a family worship culture.

3 Situations Where You Might Be Gossiping Without Realizing It
Here are 3 situations where you might be engaging in gossip without even realizing it. (The third situation is all too common!)

Sunday, September 25, 2022

All Hallows Morning and Evening Worship for Sunday (September 25, 2022) Is Now Online

 


This Sunday All Hallows Murray offers two options—one for Morning Worship and another for Evening Worship. The same preparation may be used for both options, and the Scripture reading, affirmation of faith, prayers, choir anthem, homily, and closing hymn are the same for each option.

The Scripture reading for this Sunday is Luke 16: 19-31 The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

The homily is titled “In Step with God”

The link to this Sunday’s Morning and Evening Worship is—

https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/2022/09/all-hallows-morning-and-evening-worship.html

Please feel free to share the link to the service with anyone whom you believe might benefit from the service.

If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears. An ad may follow a song so as soon as the song is finished, close the tab.

Previous services are online at

https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/

May this service be a blessing to you.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Saturday Lagniappe: 'Dear President Biden, the Pandemic Is Not Over' And More


‘You do you’ has never been the gospel.

The Shocking Reason Christians Are Losing Credibility in America
We’ve all experienced it – the uneasy feeling that this country has lost it’s moral compass and we’re drifting further and further away from basic Christian principles. While America was never actually a “Christian country” it’s pretty obvious that for the last 200 years, Judeo-Christian principles have been the most popular religious tradition in our population.

Study: More Than 3/4 of Republican Evangelicals Want US Declared a Christian Nation
While some Christian groups would like the US government to make their faith the official religion of the US, a new poll shows most Americans know that would be unconstitutional.

Churches with "For Sale" Signs - Here's What Happened
Churches that have a future always have a deep investment in the next generation. They care more about reaching the next generation than they do about their personal preferences, worship styles and current status.

God Wants You to Be a Burden
God’s design includes a responsibility for one another.

Be Angry and Do Not Sin
Our anger...puts us on high alert. Best to put ourselves in chains until it passes.

All Hallows Evening Prayer for Saturday Evening (September 24, 2022) Is Now Online

 


All Hallows Evening Prayer is a service of worship in the evening for all pilgrims on the journey to the heavenly city.

Wrestling, boxing, footraces, throwing the discus and javelin, the long jump, chariot racing, poetry reading, and singing were popular athletic competitions in the cities that Paul visited as an apostle to the Gentiles or to whom he wrote. Women competed as well as men.

In the Isthmian Games those who won the competition were awarded a crown of celery leaves, yes, celery leaves.

In his letters Paul borrows language from these athletic competitions and encourages Christians to set as their goal an “imperishable crown,” not one that quickly decays, becomes black and wilted.

The Scripture reading for this Saturday is 1 Timothy 6: 6-19 False Teaching and True Riches; Final Instructions.

The homily is titled “What’s This about Fighting?!”

The link to this Saturday evening’s service is—

https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/2022/09/all-hallows-evening-prayer-for-saturday_24.html

Please feel free to share the link to the service with anyone whom you believe might benefit from the service.

If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears. An ad may follow a song so as soon as the song is finished, close the tab.

Previous services are online at

https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/

May this service be a blessing to you.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Friday's Catch: 'The Rise of the Evangelical Heretic' And More


The Rise of the Evangelical Heretic
Even among the faithful, Christian orthodoxy has taken a backseat to cultural and political tribalism.

Never Intended to be the Majority
...COVID-19 exposed the brutal realities. A lot of church members were nominally connected to their church.

5 Truths the Church Needs to Realize About Suicide
As stewards of the greatest message of hope, the church is uniquely positioned to minister to those grappling with thoughts of suicide.

7 Steps to Structure Your Guest Follow Up Process

Hopefully you are convinced that follow up is important, but how exactly should your first-time follow up be structured? If you want to effectively follow up with guests, you have to have an effective process. It can’t just happen...you have to plan for it!

I Could Sing This Bridge Forever, If It’s an Antiphon
Modern worship music can seem awfully simple. But it has a vital role to play, especially when paired with Scripture.

Is Your Streamed Worship Complying with Church Copyright Laws?
OneLicense is a resource that lturgical churches might find useful but which Jessica Lea did not mention in her article.

Parents, Just Go to Church
Make attending corporate worship the top priority for your family. There’s nothing more positive you can do for your children than to attend corporate worship at your church every week.

The State of Theology in Youth Ministry
The state of theology in youth ministry is not good.

11 Obstacles to Effective Discipleship in the Church
Leading a church to be a discipling church—especially if that’s never been their focus—is not easy. You might, in fact, be learning that truth the hard way. Here are some obstacles to effective discipleship in the church....

People Reaching People
Three important shifts contributed to the stirring of evangelism: equipping people to be everyday missionaries, elevating the role of groups, and amplifying opportunities to serve.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Church Splits and Their Effects

 


As can be seen from seen from Thom Rainer’s article, “Nine Thoughts on Church Splits” and David Brigg’s article, “Churches That Split Survive the Trauma,” there is some difference of opinion on the detrimental effects of a church split.

The Episcopal church that I helped to plant and pioneer in 1980s and 1990s experienced a church split in 2001. The church split was not tied to any of the issues that divided the Episcopal Church at that time, but the split did weaken the church. It would in a space of six years go from a rapidly growing self-supporting parish to a stagnant subsidized mission. It would not bounce back from the effects of the split and subsequent developments at the denominational level in the issues dividing the denomination would further weaken the church and other churches across the diocese.

From what I have seen, not all churches that are formed by a breakaway group flourish as David Brigg’s article appears to suggest. The four churches which were formed by breakaway groups and of which I have some knowledge do not exist today. A number of factors contributed to their failure to survive.

Among these factors was that they lacked a compelling positive vision. They saw themselves as a safe haven from changes in the denomination which their members did not welcome: Prayer Book revision, women’s ordination, the ordination of gays and lesbians, and same sex marriage. They were targeted at a relatively small base, people like themselves, and were not mission-minded. They showed little or no interest in meeting non-believers, much less having conversations with them or forming friendships with them. 

The survival rate for new church plants is also not high According to research done in the first decade of this century, the survival rate for new church plants dropped from 99 % in the first year to 61 % in the fourth year. A key factor was expectations. The COVID-19 pandemic may have significantly reduced these percentages.

I have been a part of four successful church plants. Among the things these churches had in common is that they sought to reach and engage a much broader base and built bridges with the communities in which they were located. They took an interest in the community and identified community needs and met them. They came to be seen as a part of the community. 

Thursday's Catch: 'From Church Split to Church Plant' And More


From Church Split to Church Plant
Healthy steps toward forming a church plant after a church split.

The State of Theology: What Evangelicals Believe in 2022
A new survey reveals the theological beliefs of Americans about God, sin, salvation, heaven and hell, the church, and the Bible. And the results show many evangelicals hold unorthodox and heretical beliefs.

Opinion: MAGA's Disturbing Transformation Into a Church, Trump Into Its Savior
Jesus warned his disciples against false Christs.

In faith communities, Gen Z minorities struggle to find belonging
Young BIPOC (Black, Indigenous or a person of color) enter faith communities with certain hopes and expectations for how these communities will support congregants of color.

85 Years Ago Today: J. R. R. Tolkien Convinces C. S. Lewis That Christ Is the True Myth
On an early Sunday morning, September 20, 1931, three 30-something English professors took a stroll together on Addison’s Walk in the grounds of Magdalen College at the University of Oxford....

What I Learned from Rereading C. S. Lewis
Lois Markos shares four insights he gained into the man and his work that justify his ever-increasing reputation among both Christian and non-Christian readers.

Sermon Review: What It Is, Why You Need It and How to Do It
A sermon review allows pastors to receive affirmation on what’s working, tweak what’s broken, and make the experience more engaging.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Wednesday's Catch: 'How to Grow a Small Church' And More


Depending on a number of factors, growing a small church may be one of the more do-able things pastors can achieve.Those variable factors include....

3 Types of Visionaries, Which One Are You?
You may not consider yourself a visionary, but if you are a leader, you likely are. Leaders see things others don’t see. Don’t you sometimes, or maybe often, have ideas of how the church could be better? You may have a new idea, an innovative solution to a specific problem, or see a unique opportunity. That often becomes vision – a picture of a preferred future, a solution that makes the church better, or a spark of human potential in a leader.

The Various Voices a Pastor Must Use to Communicate
You’ve likely heard the adage. How you communicate is an essential component of what you communicate. Content is critical, but so is delivery. Finding the voice in which to share content is sometimes just as difficult as determining the content itself.

Hymn Reflection: Let All Creation Bless the Lord
I was delighted to discover that Alice Parker had composed a hymn tune for Carl P. Daw Jr.'s metrical parpaphrase of the Benedicite, "Let All Creation Bless the Lord."

Children’s Church Ideas for Small Churches: Think Big With S.M.A.L.L.
... how do you keep a small church ministry effective and relevant? What are some solid children’s church ideas for small churches? You think S.M.A.L.L!

Panel Says US Adults Should Get Routine Screening for Anxiety
For the first time, a US government-backed expert panel has recommended that adults under 65 should be screened for anxiety disorders.

How Anxiety Has Grown My Faith
Anxiety shows no favoritism. It can affect anyone, regardless of their occupation, age, or spiritual maturity.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

All Hallows Evening Prayer for Wednesday Evening (September 21, 2022) Is Now Online

 


All Hallows Evening Prayer is a service of worship in the evening for all pilgrims on the journey to the heavenly city.

When was the last time your thoughts turned to God, words of praise and thanksgiving bubbled up inside you, and you could not keep yourself from singing?

The Scripture reading for this Wednesday is Psalm 66: 1-4 A Song of Praise and Thanksgiving.

The homily is titled “Sing Praises to God, Sing Praises!”

The link to this Wednesday evening’s service is—

https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/2022/09/all-hallows-evening-prayer-for_20.html

Please feel free to share the link to the service with anyone whom you believe might benefit from the service.

If an ad plays when you open a link to a video in a new tab, click the refresh icon of your browser until the song appears. An ad may follow a song so as soon as the song is finished, close the tab.

Previous services are online at

https://allhallowsmurray.blogspot.com/

May this service be a blessing to you.

Tuesday's Catch: 'Keith Getty on Lessons from the Life of Queen Elizabeth II' And More


While no human is ever perfect, there is much in Queen Elizabeth II’s life for us to learn from and be thankful for.

The Curious Case of Coronavirus Contagion in Church
Pandemic impact was not as predictable as expected, sociological study finds.

Top 5 Heresies Among American Evangelicals
It’s 2022, but Arianism and Pelagianism are steadily making a comeback, according to the State of Theology report.

The Rural Church Dilemma
Here are some thoughts for rural pastors. You are the experts, not me. But these thoughts might stimulate something in a church that is not going to be known, outside of a miracle, for its numerical growth. In fact, you may wonder sometimes if God knows you are there.

3 Myths About the Small Church Pastor
The vast majority of churches are small in attendance. But there seem to be a few myths about the small church pastor.

Why Become a Disciple-Making Small Group Church?
Some have asked, “Why would I want to lead my church to become a disciple-making church when the people I lead are happy with the status quo?” There are many undeniable and essential reasons.

Evangelism and Social Action Are Close Friends
Since God does call some of us to be involved in social action, how are we to go about it without becoming just like the world we’re supposedly trying to change? We must never forget our first calling is to obey the Great Commission. We’re soldiers of the cross, not mere social activists who happen to be Christians.