Using the Apostles’ Creed in Worship

Worship Committee outlines an educational aid for churches.

Credit: Designpics Credit: Designpics

by Kimberly Muehling and Paul Walker

For the past year the EMC community has gathered through The Messenger to think about the Apostles’ Creed—a great time of grounding ourselves in the core beliefs of the Christian faith. Now, how can we use the Apostles’ Creed as a resource for our churches and apply it in our individual lives?

We need to do the hard work of applying what we learn to our lives. As James reminds us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says(James 1:22).

In this article you will hopefully find both inspiring and useful ideas, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. Let us all know what you are doing in your churches!

Ideas for the Worship Service

Spoken Confession

Consider adding a congregational confession of the Apostles’ Creed to your worship service. Historically, many Christian churches have recited the Apostles’ Creed as a regular part of the weekly worship service. Other churches confess the Apostles’ Creed monthly, quarterly, or during a special service. We recommend finding a practice that works best for your local context.

Recitation during a service can be an effective way to notice the many different voices in your congregation. Instead of always reciting the Apostles’ Creed together, ask an individual, family, or group to recite it for the rest of the congregation. If you have multiple languages in your church, this would be a great time to hear them. Ask a child or a senior to share.

In Song

Another way of incorporating the Creed into a worship service is to sing it. There are a few versions of the Creed put to music such as This I believe (The Creed) by Hillsong and We Believe by the Newsboys.  There are a plethora of songs that encompass the various aspects of the Creed.  A service could be divided into sections, each with part of the creed recited and then sung. Alternatively, an entire series of services could be devoted to the Creed, each Sunday focusing on a section.

In Prayer

The Apostles’ Creed lends itself naturally to corporate prayer. As confessional prayer: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty. Father, we confess that we are disobedient children. Help us to trust You and lean on Your everlasting arms.” Or pastoral prayer: “Come again to judge the living and the dead. God, we pray that people would come to know You. We believe in the holy catholic church, the communion of the saints. Father, we pray for the global church….” Silence and reflection between the Creed and corresponding prayer would be particularly useful.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Ideas for Church Life

Sermon Series/ Curriculum

The earliest Anabaptists would frequently structure their teachings and discipleship efforts around the Apostles’ Creed. The Creed expressed and represented the essence of Christian faith and doctrine. It was not uncommon for many early Anabaptists to memorize the Apostles’ Creed by heart.

What if we returned to our historic roots and began to use the Apostles’ Creed as a resource once again for our churches? Pastors, are you looking for sermon material? Consider using the Apostles’ Creed for your next sermon series! It is a great resource for laying out the story, unity, coherence, and major themes of the Christian faith.

Sunday School teachers, why not spend twelve weeks unpacking each section of the Creed? A great resource for commentary would be our recent Messenger series. The magazine’s articles could be read out loud and then discussed in small groups in an older classroom setting.

Is your church planning a retreat weekend? The Apostles’ Creed could be a great resource for a weekend of study and reflection.

Art/ Prayer Room

Do you have a talented artist in your midst? Ask them to create a series of works (be it paintings, dance, song) around the Creed to share with the congregation in a service, around the church building, or on a special evening or weekend.

Art inspired by one or various sections of the Creed could be used in a prayer room to create stations for specific contemplation and worship. This is a great way to again encourage your less vocal congregants to get involved and share their gifts with the wider church body.

Teach the Children

Few things are as silly and delightful in church as children’s worship time. Teaching the Creed to our children is important in so many ways. Sunday School fills their heads with stories, but rarely are they taught the foundational truths of our faith in clear language. Speak it together, but also explain what it is we are saying. 

Teach your older elementary and teens the theological terms (i.e., theories of atonement) so that they can enjoy sounding impressive! We do not have a catechism, but the Creed can function in a similar way and help children to understand what we agree about amidst all that we so enjoy debating.

Make it fun! Who knew the Creed could be a rap? Or recited in a variety of silly voices? Have the children create art or skits to share with the congregation. It is so important that our children contribute to our regular church life.

Individual Walk

Bible Study

Putting the articles from the last year away; write your own. This could be done individually or in a small Bible study setting. Grab your Bible, a handy concordance (there are lots online), and get to work! What passages of Scripture back up the various parts of the Creed? What does God show us about Himself in these passages? “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom” (Col. 3:16).

Memorization

God commanded the ancient Israelites to plant the Torah in both their hearts and their minds. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates” (Deut.11:18-20).

Even now, Christians in many parts of the world where the Bible is restricted still rely on memorizing great swaths of Scripture. Here in the West, we can pull up BibleGateway or grab Strong’s Concordance anytime we are looking for a verse, but that does not help God’s words to grow and bloom in our hearts.

While the Creed is not Scripture, it is useful to memorize as a guide to the Scriptures.  Go further and memorize verses to correspond to each section of the Creed.  If we are to be deeply rooted, we must put the words of God and the tenets of our faith not only on our laptops, but also in our hearts.

Closing Thoughts

The Apostles’ Creed is perfectly designed for use in a congregational worship setting. The early church would often confess the Apostles’ Creed together before receiving communion, administering baptism, or as a public act of worship. This helped the church articulate and confess the faith once delivered.

To confess the Creed together with fellow believers is more than just mindlessly reciting a list of dusty facts. It becomes an act of worship when it is connected to loving God with our heart, soul, mind, strength, and loving our neighbours as ourselves. A worshipful use of the Creed should connect to the deepest part of our being and the heart of the Almighty God.

kim-muehling

Kimberly Muehling

We, as the Worship Committee of the EMC, pray that the Apostles’ Creed will become a

great resource to help enrich your local church in the years to come!

Kimberly Muehling (Fort Garry) and Pastor Paul Walker (Roseisle) serve on the EMC Worship Committee under the authority of the Board of Church Ministries. Jessica Wichers (EFC Steinbach) is the committee’s third member.

Paul Walker

Paul Walker

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  1. Letters February 2017 – The Messenger

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