An Overview of Presbyterian (PCA) Worship

Ministers in the PCA hold the preaching of God’s Word in the highest possible regard.

“The Directory for Worship,” in the Book of Church Order (BCO), which makes practical application of the doctrinal statements of the PCA to specific aspects of corporate worship, underscores the importance of preaching the Word: “The preaching of the Word is an ordinance of God for the salvation of men. Serious attention should be paid to the manner in which it is done. Preaching requires much study, meditation, and prayer, and ministers should prepare their sermons with care, and not indulge themselves in loose, extemporary harangues, nor serve God with that which costs them naught” (BCO, 531–1).

 

The sermon remains central to worship in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), and selection of texts is determined by the minister’s choice rather than a church year lectionary. While it is customary to preach on seasonal topics at Christmas and Easter, freedom from mandatory observance of the Christian year continues to be stressed and no churches are known to follow it.

Ministers in the PCA hold the preaching of God’s Word in the highest possible regard. Given their denomination’s creedal stance, this outlook is understandable! The Westminster Confession of Faith declares: “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture” (I:6). Since in part it is the nature of Scripture to convey the eternal purposes of God and his gracious plan for redemption, it is only logical that the confession emphasize the importance of preaching the Scriptures: “The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear, the sound preaching and considerable hearing of the Word … are all parts of the ordinary worship of God” (XXI:5).

“The Directory for Worship,” in the Book of Church Order (BCO), which makes practical application of the doctrinal statements of the PCA to specific aspects of corporate worship, underscores the importance of preaching the Word: “The preaching of the Word is an ordinance of God for the salvation of men. Serious attention should be paid to the manner in which it is done. Preaching requires much study, meditation, and prayer, and ministers should prepare their sermons with care, and not indulge themselves in loose, extemporary harangues, nor serve God with that which costs them naught” (BCO, 531–1).

While stressing the prominence of preaching faithfully the Word of God, the Book of Church Order allows latitude in the choice of which portion of that Word is to be expounded. The only instruction given on that point reads: “The subject of the sermon should be some verse or verses of Scripture, and its object, to explain, defend and apply some part of the system of divine truth…. It is proper also that large portions of Scripture be sometimes expounded, and particularly improved, for the instruction of the people in the meaning and use of the Sacred Scriptures” (BCO, 53–2).

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