Rules and schools

How do Evangelicals worship?

Evangelical Christianity is driven by faith not works, and by a relationship with God, not a set of rules - it is less a religion than an attitude of the heart. For this reason, worship can take many forms, from a dressy and formal church service to a gathering in a home with a bible and a song sheet. There are no holy buildings.

I have been to large London churches to sing God's praises with hundreds of others. I have also been to smaller, more private gatherings in one of the many countries where Christians are endangered. Both are gatherings in the name of Jesus and, as he explains in Matthew, "where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them."

In fact, worship is a word used in the bible to cover all of life. "Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship," writes the apostle Paul.

Worship of God is played out in all spheres of life therefore, through showing honesty in business, generosity in friendship, concern for justice, provision for the poor and support for godly moral teachings or laws, to name a few. The essence of Christian worship is that it is driven by joy and gratitude at the salvation Jesus achieved with his death and resurrection.

When evangelicals meet for communal worship, however, it is God's own words that drive the agenda. The Anglican prayer book, written more than three hundred years ago, is a good example of this. Verses, passages or teachings from scripture are spoken from the front of the gathering and the assembled believers respond in unison through the liturgy. The point of this is not to go through centuries-old motions for tradition's sake but to communicate with God as a family of believers.

Evangelical services will often begin with a verse before the congregation responds with a song of praise, then continue with more scripture to lead the congregation to repent in commune. A verse or passage may prompt or open a time of communal prayer and a sermon will seek to encourage an engaged and personal response to scripture (beyond the church doors) before the congregation responds with further praise.

Forms will vary according to preference and culture, but all forms will seek to respond to God's words in praise, repentance, prayer, the words of a creed or even in greeting one another with the peace of Christ.

The communion, Jesus' act of memorial for his disciples, illustrates the sustaining function of God's words in both picture and action by pointing to the final sacrifice made for sin.

Evangelicals use all sorts of church buildings but their focus is firstly on the word of God, rather than communion, music or ritual, and this affects the design of a church. Evangelical churches may have a table with the bread and wine, but they have no altar, as an altar is for sacrifice and there is no further need for sacrifice as Jesus was killed "once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God".
Instead, pulpit and lectern are more likely to feature as the congregation's attention is channelled towards scripture and the risen person of Jesus.

Alex studied French, then Chinese before pursuing a career in journalism. He now works for Trusted Sources, a political and economic risk consultancy, where he is a China analyst
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Emmanuel Macron can win - but so can Marine Le Pen

Macron is the frontrunner, but he remains vulnerable to an upset. 

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron is campaigning in the sixth largest French city aka London today. He’s feeling buoyed by polls showing not only that he is consolidating his second place but that the voters who have put him there are increasingly comfortable in their choice

But he’ll also be getting nervous that those same polls show Marine Le Pen increasing her second round performance a little against both him and François Fillon, the troubled centre-right candidate. Her slight increase, coming off the back of riots after the brutal arrest of a 22-year-old black man and Macron’s critical comments about the French empire in Algeria is a reminder of two things: firstly the potential for domestic crisis or terror attack to hand Le Pen a late and decisive advantage.  Secondly that Macron has not been doing politics all that long and the chance of a late implosion on his part cannot be ruled out either.

That many of his voters are former supporters of either Fillon or the Socialist Party “on holiday” means that he is vulnerable should Fillon discover a sense of shame – highly unlikely but not impossible either – and quit in favour of a centre-right candidate not mired in scandal. And if Benoît Hamon does a deal with Jean-Luc Mélenchon – slightly more likely that Fillon developing a sense of shame but still unlikely – then he could be shut out of the second round entirely.

What does that all mean? As far as Britain is concerned, a Macron or Fillon presidency means the same thing: a French government that will not be keen on an easy exit for the UK and one that is considerably less anti-Russian than François Hollande’s. But the real disruption may be in the PR battle as far as who gets the blame if Theresa May muffs Brexit is concerned.

As I’ve written before, the PM doesn’t like to feed the beast as far as the British news cycle and the press is concerned. She hasn’t cultivated many friends in the press and much of the traditional rightwing echo chamber, from the press to big business, is hostile to her. While Labour is led from its leftmost flank, that doesn’t much matter. But if in the blame game for Brexit, May is facing against an attractive, international centrist who shares much of the prejudices of May’s British critics, the hope that the blame for a bad deal will be placed solely on the shoulders of the EU27 may turn out to be a thin hope indeed.

Implausible? Don’t forget that people already think that Germany is led by a tough operator who gets what she wants, and think less of David Cameron for being regularly outmanoeuvered by her – at least, that’s how they see it. Don’t rule out difficulties for May if she is seen to be victim to the same thing from a resurgent France.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.