I have been to some Protestant churches that have a liturgy on Sunday mornings (Lutherans, Presbyterians, etc) but most of the churches I've attended do not (Baptist, Assembly of God, etc). By liturgy, I mean specific readings, usually chosen according to a church calendar, from a pool of shared, historical literature compiled by the church over time.

When and why did Protestants who follow the 'sing a few songs and then listen to the Pastor give a sermon' tradition abandon the liturgy in favor of worship music followed by a sermon? I am not asking about praying the hours throughout the day but rather about the church service.

  • Seems like you're really asking about Protestants' use of lectionaries, not liturgy?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 13:27
  • @curiousdannii At this time, I was in the process of becoming Eastern Orthodox. I was referring to the Orthodox liturgical structure composed of a basic framework (the book called the Horologion) which then interacts in different ways according to the 'secular' date and the Paschal calendar with the other service books such as the Menaion, Octoechoes, Lenten Triodion, and Pentecostarion. I think a lectionary is part of it but I now believe this is the baseline that others have departed from.
    – sirdank
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 13:34

1 Answer 1


The simplifying or outright dismantling of liturgies has been in train since the beginning of the Reformation, particularly as it started to unfold in Switzerland under Huldrych Zwingli. From the linked Wikipedia article:

Shortly before Easter (1525), Zwingli and his closest associates requested the council to cancel the mass and to introduce the new public order of worship...The sermon was the focal point of the service and there was no organ music or singing.

They still did describe the order of service as a liturgy, but there was a radically new conception of what that meant.

In many ways, Zwingli was more "Protestant" than Luther - his rejection of the concept of the real presence in the Eucharist and limiting communion services to four times a year was a major step towards a "de-liturgized" service.

  • I think that link may not be what you wanted it to be. Also, does the article say why they wanted that change?
    – sirdank
    Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 16:47
  • you're right - fixed now. They were rejecting all elements of the Catholic liturgy that were deemed not to be supported by scripture. Commented Aug 14, 2015 at 16:51
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    Also, Luther changed the view of the Mass. Because he does not recognize it as a participation in the sacrifice of Christ, rather he claimed that the mass was for the people and not an act of worship in any sacrificial sense.
    – JAGAnalyst
    Commented Sep 19, 2015 at 7:22

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