About the author


Jane Gibb

Jane and her husband Steve ministered at Trinity Baptist Church in Cairns, Australia for fourteen years before moving to serve as missionaries in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Jane has a bachelor of education. Jane is active in ministry in Vanuatu as well as being a busy mother of six.


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    I had a similar experience during the weeks before Christmas when my church followed Advent; it was something I was unfamiliar with growing up in independent, fundamentalist circles, but I found the weekly, anticipatory nature of the celebration very edifying. The tradition encouraged an intentionality in worship that I found refreshing after years of “Okay, it’s the week before Christmas so let’s sing some carols.” (-:

    It also reminded me of being part of a historical lineage. Christians five hundred years ago sang “Gaudete” (“rejoice”) and now here I am echoing their song of praise for the coming of the messiah.

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    George Matzko

    I have fond memories of growing up in a fundamental church that had a Good Friday service, an Easter sunrise service and a Christmas morning service. The effect was to impress my child self with the special importance of Christ’s birth, death and resurrection.

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    Sadly, I think independents have de-emphasised Easter and they’ve done so primarily for three reasons –

    1) To dissociate themselves as far as possible from Roman Catholicism. Historically, there is no doubting the strong streak of anti-Catholicism present in independent circles.

    2) Because of the whole Wednesday crucifixion question…(I would say error).

    3) Because independents generally have not followed any form of liturgical calendar.

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    Albert Garlando

    The independent Church I have been pastoring for the last 2 years follows a VERY strict liturgy. The order never changes. I made a few impromptu changes when I first started and thought I was going to get drawn, quartered, tarred and feathered for the effort.
    Every week they recite the Lord’s Prayer, during Communion, they recite the Apostles Creed. A Benediction is said at the end of every service. They have Good Friday and Christmas Eve services. I’m still, after 20+ years in IFB Churches, struggling a little to get used to it.

    BUT, I’ve also learnt that this is not a hill to die on. To strictly associate liturgy with Catholicism misses that there are numerous biblicaly solid Reformed Churches (independent & denominational) that use a fixed liturgy. I suppose it could & has been argued that those churches never left Rome far enough behind them ;)

    But the dead formalism of Rome is absent in most of these Churches. As Jane said, Israel had their festivals as a tangible means to remind them of the grace and redemption of God. Using a liturgy, thoughtfully, prayerfully and biblicaly can aid in your retention and understanding of the gospel.

    e.g. my 5yr daughter has memorised the Lord’s Prayer (when she was 4. That’s a good chunk of scripture memory, even for an adult.

    It has provided me with numerous sermon references and illustrations: “you just prayed, ‘Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven’ – are you determined to obey God this week?” etc.

    The challenge is to make the liturgy serve the Church in understanding the gospel – rather than the church slavishly serving the liturgy.


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    Jeanette gould

    As a child I had a Presbyterian background and my husband was Methodist, which I also became involved with in teen and early married years.
    These denominations hold Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday as you have noted in a traditional light. It was a great reminder of the part the crowd played in the Easter story.
    As we have been involved in Independent churches for most of the time our children were growing up, and though the emphasis was not necessarily the same, we in our home continued to make these days “known”.
    It was a great opportunity to demonstrate the faithfulness of God in keeping His promises, as the events of Palm Sunday were prophesyed so many centuries previously.
    On Easter Sunday Dad would say “The Lord is Risen” to which kids would reply, “He is Risen indeed!”
    This tradition still has a part in our lives, though now usually undertaken by text.

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    Paul, what you say about connecting with historical Christianity through liturgy rings true. Often we independents forget our roots (unless we have denied them outright as those who take the Baptist bride position do!)

    George, thanks for reminding us not to paint all fundamental churches with the same brush. I do think, though, that American independent churches are much more connected to the “seasons” through tradition than their Aussie counterparts. Poinsettias at Christmas, lilies at Easter, the traditional cantatas and the sunrise service followed by the pancake breakfast–all these remind me of my years in American churches. Perhaps our “sunburnt country” is more casual in its approach, at least in independent Baptist churches.

    PJ, two of your three points highlight the fact that IB’s have been reactionary in some of their choices. Hoorah for those Australian church leaders who are making positive and proactive choices FOR what they believe instead of choices AGAINST what they don’t believe.

    Albert, AMEN! to what you say about liturgy serving the church and not vice versa. Do you think that appreciation of liturgy can relate to culture–either ethnically or generationally?

    Jeanette, thanks for sharing your own family’s tradition. Regardless of what our church chooses to do, we can still have family traditions that help us to properly remember these special events in our Christian calendar.


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