Liturgy in the IFB Movement


IFB Liturgy

Two years ago, someone at free jinger raised a question about IFB liturgy. The question was stated simply: ‘is there a liturgy at the IFB.’

That question is an interesting one. You would think that the answer is a resounding and unequivocal ‘NO.’ Yet hang around IFB sects long enough, you begin to see patterns emerge from the worship service. How often has the song leader omitted the third in a four verse song? Why the third?

Sometimes, attendees are given a printed ‘order of service.’ But this isn’t ‘liturgy.’ Well — it isn’t what IFBs call ‘liturgy.’ After all, liturgy is what Episcopalians and their closely related cousins, ‘Catholics’ do.

But those patterns which reveal themselves week after week were not lost on Paul and Cindy Erlandson. They came up with a great liturgical parody on IFB ‘liturgy’ which the IFBs don’t call ‘liturgy.’

None Dare Call It Liturgy

For example in place of the ‘Passing of the Peace,’ the Erlandsons refer to ‘the Glad-handing of the Peace,’ which goes as follows:

Then may the Minister say: “Why don’t we all shake hands with the person on our left and on our right and say ‘Good morning.’”

This is followed by several exemptions for ‘special days.’ This closes with:

When the general hubbub has subsided, the Minister shall say: “You may be seated.”

In place of ‘Canticle of the Day’ the Erlandsons refer to IFB ‘Sharesicles, Prayersicles, and Praiseicles of the Day.’ They might also have alluded to testimonies, but that would imply … well … you know where this goes.

The Erlandsons have served up a playful intertwining of sacred language with IFB ‘unstructured, spirit led, whatever happens’ services. The result is quite a treat. Perhaps others will have their own observations to offer on IFB liturgy which isn’t ‘Liturgy.’

To frame the right spirit by seeing ‘The Order for Morning “Fellowship.”‘

6 thoughts on “Liturgy in the IFB Movement”

  1. Of course Independent Fundamental Baptist churches prescripe to liturgy…and rules…and codes of conduct…dress…speech just like everyone else does. I believe the difference, in part, is the outward expression of the ceremonies we see in churches such as the Catholic church versus Congregational, Independent Baptist and the like.

    What makes American fundamentalism (Baptist/Bible/Presbyterian/Name a flavor) cultic is the propensity to ascribe loyality to a personality over a system. This is part of the reason we get so many different, and goofy, liturgies. The titled “pastor” becomes a practical pope.

    British Dictionary definitions for liturgy Expand
    noun (pl) -gies
    the forms of public services officially prescribed by a Church
    (often capital) ( mainly Eastern Churches) Also called Divine Liturgy. the Eucharistic celebration
    a particular order or form of public service laid down by a Church

    1. P.S. That ‘The Order for Morning “Fellowship”‘ link is quite the internet museum piece! And updated as recently as 01 December 2016! I have a hankering to pull out my old stone-washed jean jacket.

  2. Oh the IFB has a liturgy!! It’s just not so formal or ritualistic !! But when I was a kid it went like this –
    1) opening hymn to get ppl to shut up and sit down
    2) Greetings/announcements/
    having all the guest raise their hands
    3) Then more hymns/choir/specials (an oh man were they special sometimes )
    4) Offering

    5) Then the sermon (1hour-1hour and half)
    6) the invitation (10-30mins)
    7) then a remember to come back at 6pm for another 2hour service.

  3. This is a classic example of using the same vocabulary but having different meanings. It’s what I’ve heard the IFB folk accusing “cults” of. Of course, the word “cult” has a particular meaning for fundies, often meaning Catholics or Mormons. The idea that a cult doesn’t need theological doctrine to hold it together – instead it can have a personality or method to bind its adherents – is lost on them even though it defines them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *