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A place for conversations about worship in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), including the proposed revisions to the Directory for Worship. 

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October 13, 2014

Directory for Worship: Chapter Three

The third chapter of the proposed revision to the PC(USA) Directory for Worship is devoted to the church’s weekly encounter with the crucified and risen Lord, in Word and Sacrament, through the Service for the Lord’s Day. This chapter is the centerpiece of the revision, as this meeting of the body of Christ is the heart of our life together. The chapter is organized around a simple, four-fold order of worship—Gathering, Word, Sacrament, and Sending—consistent with Reformed theology and ecumenical tradition; however, as the introduction to the chapter suggests, the insights here may readily be applied to other faithful orders of worship.

This chapter of the revision seeks to address a frequently criticism of the current Directory: that the theology and practice of worship—and in particular, information on the Sacraments—is divided between chapters two (“The Elements of Christian Worship”) and three (“The Ordering of Christian Worship”), respectively. The revision combines the essential elements of both chapters, providing a theological account of the order of worship alongside practical instruction, in a single, more concise chapter that follows the order of worship.


Questions for Reflection or Discussion

Read this section of the proposed revision, ideally alongside relevant sections in the current Directory for Worship. 

(1) How does the outline for worship in this chapter compare with a typical order of worship in your congregation? What is the same or similar? What is different?

(2) What does it mean to proclaim the Word of God in worship? Why is it important to pray for illumination? How do we respond to God’s Word—both in worship and in daily life?

(3) What are the primary biblical stories and theological themes that inform your understanding of the sacraments? How are they reflected in your congregation’s sacramental practice?


EMAIL COMMENTS on the proposed revision to the Directory for Worship. For official consideration in subsequent drafts of the revision, all comments must be received in writing at this address by July 1, 2015.

Tags: chapter three, directory for worship, presbyterian