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Most protestant churches I have attended (from a wide degree of protestant denominations) have a very specific setup in the layout of their service. It generally goes like this:

  • About 5 Worship Songs
  • Sermon
  • Closing Worship Songs
  • Close & Announcements

Where did this practice come from? Did it evolve out of the liturgy? If so, why is it so different in nature?


Related: When and why did Protestantism begin moving away from liturgy?

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  • Your sample clearly excludes the original Protestants, the Lutherans, along with the Anglicans/Episcopalians, the Methodists, and others.
    – Traildude
    Feb 26 at 21:54
  • @Traildude that's correct. I made this post when I was less aware of liturgical protestantism. But the question is very clearly asking about non-mainline churches.
    – Luke Hill
    Feb 27 at 3:23

2 Answers 2

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One way to think about this is to think about their history. Many Protestant churches stem from the Catholic Church; their liturgy is derived from the Catholic liturgy at the time (potentially with some evolution). A good example to consider might be the Anglicans. This explains why the more "conservative" Protestant services are similar.

However, there are many other Protestant churches were formed by splitting off from other Protestant churches - a process that can go on for quite a bit (turtles all the way down!). The further you get from the "source" (in this case, the Catholic church), the larger the difference in liturgies.

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    So Is it just an evolution?
    – Luke Hill
    Feb 1, 2022 at 18:15
  • Again, think about why each sect formed. The Anglican church formed because Henry VIII wanted his nth divorce and Pope Clement VII wouldn't annul the previous marriage, so Henry broke England away from the Catholic church, declaring the monarch the head of the church instead of the Pope. As a result, there are relatively few differences between the Anglican service and Catholic Mass. On the other hand, the traditional Catholic Mass hasn't changed in any significant way since about 600 AD. See also: bit.ly/3L1xD07 Feb 1, 2022 at 18:42
  • "On the other hand, the traditional Catholic Mass hasn't changed in any significant way since about 600 AD." that is, up until the 1970s.
    – jaredad7
    Feb 1, 2022 at 19:28
  • @KarlWolfschtagg welcome to the site. I have accepted your answer.
    – Luke Hill
    Feb 1, 2022 at 19:41
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    @jaredad7 Your point is correct, which is why I pointed to the "traditional" Catholic Mass. Feb 2, 2022 at 21:38
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Protestants encompass a wide variety of denominations who loosely share some history. They don't even all trace back to the same reformation (for example, Baptists split from the Anglicans, who separated from the Catholics before the reformation we associate with Martin Luther).

That said, many denominations have their own "normal" order of service. The denomination's beliefs will affect the structure, as will the degree of control that the denomination can exercise over individual churches.

Structured denominations that haven't gone comparatively far beyond the separation from the Catholics will have more rigid structure. Charismatics have a whole thing about the Spirit moving, so will be more flexible and will include things like speaking in tongues and prophesying showing up regularly. Denominations where the authority is mostly or completely vested at the level of the local church (Baptists, especially independent Baptists, for example) will have the order of service vary from one church to the next based on the congregation or leadership team's preferences or convictions.

In short, the order of service you're seeing is sort of a regional thing that comes from either those specific churches or those specific denominations. While there are roots going back to pre-split catholic services, they've all undergone changes independently since.

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    Why do they all have the same layout then? Just culture?
    – Luke Hill
    Feb 1, 2022 at 17:01
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    @Luke when you simplify all the details away of course they're going to look the same. In reality each church sings a different number of songs, have different numbers of prayers and Bible readings, puts the prayers and Bible readings in different orders, may or may not include a creed, or a children's talk, or time to greet others, may have communion every week or less often, and definitely may put announcements somewhere other than the end, if they have announcements at all.
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 1, 2022 at 22:28
  • "Anglicans, who separated from the Catholics before the reformation we associate with Martin Luther". Sorry, but Luther's appearance at Augsburg was in 1517/18, and the Augsburg Confession itself was presented to the emperor in 1530, while the Church of England didn't start until 1530-34 when the Wittenburg Reformation was strong and healthy.
    – Traildude
    Feb 26 at 21:51

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