For full reports and exact statements of the denomination's position on a particular issue, the reader should look to the references provided.
The following description serves as the common biblical basis for Christian worship: Worship is an ascription of worth, adoration, and praise to God; includes confession of sin and surrender to the true God; is a God-initiated engagement of God and the worshiper, as well as a corporate engagement among the worshipers; strengthens and is strengthened by the Christian community and its shared memory; and reflects the mighty redemptive acts of God.
When God's people worship with pure hearts and in authentic community, effective evangelism is a natural result. The basic pattern for Christian worship includes gathering as a covenant community, proclamation of the Word, celebration of the Lord's Supper, and going to serve in the world. Authentic worship has an intrinsically sacramental character and is enriched by the diverse backgrounds of participating believers.
Synod 1964 appointed a liturgical committee to review liturgical literature in the light of history, theological content, and contemporary needs and to study liturgical practices in the churches in the light of Reformed principles and synodical decisions. The committee's report came to synod in 1968 and was recommended to the churches for study and consideration. This report encapsulates the basic understanding of Reformed worship in the CRC.
Thirty years later, in 1994, CRC Publications asked synod to commission a new report in light of the many changes in synodical decisions as well as in worship practices in the churches over three decades. The new committee built on the biblical-theological framework of the 1968 report, using the report as the starting point for its reflections. The committee came to Synod 1997 with a report titled "Authentic Worship in a Changing Culture," which analyzes contemporary cultural forces at work in the church and reflects theologically on those changes with a view to helping church leaders make decisions about worship that are biblically and theologically informed and culturally discerning. In 2011 the denomination’s publishing agency, Faith Alive Christian Resources, presented a proposal for a standing CRC Worship Committee on grounds that the CRC needs to provide leadership and resources “in the crucial area of worship” and that “there is no designated agency or office to support that ministry in the CRC” (Agenda for Synod 2011, pp. 176-77, 181). Synod 2011 referred the tasks presented in that proposal to its Faith Formation Committee to consider how those tasks might be fulfilled (Acts of Synod 2011, p. 855). In 2013 the Faith Formation Committee reported that it had many fruitful conversations about this matter with Faith Alive, the executive director, and the Task Force Reviewing Structure and Culture (appointed by Synod 2011). As Synod 2013 dissolved the Faith Alive board, an implementation plan for the continuation of Faith Alive’s functions was presented by the Board of Trustees to Synod 2013, and a formal launch of Worship Ministries began in 2014. At Synod 2015, Worship Ministries shared its ministry vision, and synod noted the engagement of Worship Ministries’ values with the denomination’s ministry priorities and the ministry’s connectivity with local churches and other partners (Acts of Synod 2015, pp. 594, 628). In 2017 synod received from the Board of Trustees a newly adopted mission and vision statement and new mandate for CRC Worship Ministries (see Acts of Synod 2017, pp. 550-52).
In 2015 a Liturgical Forms Committee formed in response to requests for various liturgical forms that would help represent current ministry contexts. By way of the Board of Trustees, the committee submitted thirteen new forms to Synod 2016, and synod approved the forms with some textual revisions (Agenda for Synod 2016, pp. 38, 46-47, 75-119; Acts of Synod 2016, pp. 898-903). To locate all current forms, visit crcna.org and search “liturgical forms.”
References to Agendas and Acts of Synod
Acts of Synod 1964, pp. 59-60, 133
Acts of Synod 1968, pp. 64-65, 134-98
Acts of Synod 1994, pp. 379-80, 526-27
Agenda for Synod 1996, p. 84
Agenda for Synod 1997, pp. 86, 93-144
Acts of Synod 1997, pp. 664-68
Agenda for Synod 2000, p. 133
Agenda for Synod 2011, pp. 176-77, 181
Acts of Synod 2011, p. 855
Agenda for Synod 2013, pp. 324-25, 381, 388-89
Acts of Synod 2013, pp. 475-79, 550
Agenda for Synod 2015, pp. 266-68, 363
Acts of Synod 2015, pp. 594, 628, 680
Agenda for Synod 2016, pp. 38, 46-47, 75-119
Acts of Synod 2016, pp. 898-903
Agenda for Synod 2017, p. 165-66
Acts of Synod 2017, pp. 464, 472, 550-52, 639
Acts of Synod 2019, pp. 768-70