Authority to appoint services of worship

Discussion in 'Ecclesiology' started by alexandermsmith, Aug 22, 2019.

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  1. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    I have a question: do elders of a congregation have the authority to appoint additional services throughout the week (i.e. not Sabbath services)? I looked at various past threads dealing with prayer meetings and the like but I couldn't find this specific aspect dealt with (from a cursory reading). Is there a passage from Scripture, or a teaching from good and necessary consequence, which would grant them this authority? And if so how far can the session go in requiring people to attend those services? The Directory for Public Worship allows for the appointing of days of thanksgiving and humiliation but, alas, does not provide scriptural proofs. In these instances, however, there is Scriptural precept for giving thanks for the harvest, for example. So I'm thinking more generally.

    N.B. I'm specifically thinking of services other than the so-called holy days of Christmas and Easter. So just regular worship services that would adhere to the RPW in all aspects but not held on the Sabbath.
  2. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    If I could tag an additional question. When did actual mid week services begin to be common? I know there were week day lectures in the cities in Scotland in the 17th century. There were extra services associated with the communion season that developed, preparation on Saturday and thanksgiving on Monday but what if any effect on this question, I don't know.
  3. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Not as mandatory, no.

    God calls us to work 6 days and rest 1 (the Lord's day). On the Lord's day, He calls us to worship Him. Since, the elders only have authority under the head and king of the Church, Jesus Christ, they may only exercise that authority based on what He commands. So they may only call corporate assemblies on the Lord's day, acknowledging that the other 6 days people are to be working. There cannot be, therefore, worship services 'called' on other days because 1) Christ has not called them, and 2) the people need to be free to work according to the 4th commandment, and not be burdened by extra-biblical commands of men.

    Now this does not prevent elders from scheduling other 'services' like prayer meeting or preparatory services, but they MUST NOT BE mandatory. They should be voluntary, and if, for example, preparatory services, other arrangements ought to be made to help prepare those unable to make it.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2019
  4. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    It's actually to do with communion seasons that I'm asking this question. Specifically the issue of requirement to attend, not the development of the communion season itself. It would seem to me if the session appoints services of worship which do not contravene the RPW (and communion preparatory services don't) then people should attend unless they have a good reason not to (but the reasons not to would be broader than the Sabbath which has clear, Biblical teaching on what is and isn't lawful).
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