The liturgy of the Christian Reformed Church has been substantially revised since the Synod of 1964 appointed a Liturgical Committee "to review all our liturgical literature in the light of its history, its theological content, and the contemporary needs of the churches; and to recommend such revisions or substitutions as the results of the review might recommend" ("Acts of Synod," 1964, p. 60).

This committee developed new liturgical forms (sacramental and nonsacramental), services of the Word and sacraments, responsive readings of the law, and prayers. After provisional approval by synod, these liturgical materials were referred to the church for several years of trial use, study, and reactions before they were officially approved.

The Synods of 1984 and 1986 selected from among these traditional, revised, and newly developed liturgical materials, the forms, services, and responsive readings that are now being included in this 1987 edition of the "Psalter Hymnal" ("Acts of Synod," 1984, p. 631; 1986, pp. 722-723). The Synod of 1979 appointed a contemporary testimony committee "to move in the direction of formulating a contemporary testimony in view of the secularization of modern life and culture" ("Acts of Synod," 1979, pp. 75-76). A draft of this testimony was provisionally approved by Synod 1983 and referred to the churches for discussion and response. The Synod of 1986 approved a final version of the testimony and authorized its inclusion in the liturgical section of the 1987 edition of the "Psalter Hymnal" ("Acts of Synod," pp. 679-80).

The dates appended indicate the year synod adopted each form. The forms adopted in 1912 were revised in 1934. Synod of 1986 approved editorial revisions of all the above forms for the purpose of stylistic consistency.

In 1994 Synod approved some shorter forms for the sacraments though those were only ever available online. They also made the following  decisions as recorded in the Acts of Synod 1994, pp. 493-94

  1. That liturgical consistency within the CRC be encouraged by the use of synodically approved or recommended Bible versions, liturgical forms, principles of worship, and worship songs.

Grounds:

  1. Although these worship resources do not have the same binding force as do the Forms of Unity (cf. Acts of Synod 1916, p. 30), they do provide some level of cohesion and unity.
  2. Synod’s actions have recognized the need for flexibility and diversity in local practice.
  1. That the celebration of the sacraments be done in accord with the confessions of the CRC and include at least the following elements:

For baptism -the scriptural words of institution, the baptismal covenant (including God’s promises and our promises), the act of baptism with water and in the name of the Trinity, and prayers.

For the Lord’s Supper -the scriptural words of institution (with actions of breaking and pouring), the thanksgiving and consecration, and the communion with bread and cup.

Note: In services including baptism or the Lord’s Supper, it is appropriate to include a   confession of faith (Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed etc.).

Grounds:

  1. This promotes the confessional integrity of our sacramental practice.
  2. This both permits adaptations and establishes guidelines for such adaptations.
  1. That local adaptations of other synodically approved or recommended forms (such as profession of faith, ordination, and marriage) be made in accord with the principles of Reformed worship as approved or recommended by synod (such as the 1968 report of the Liturgical Committee).

Grounds:

  1. Reformed principles should guide our use of all liturgical forms and resources.
  2. This both permits adaptations and establishes guidelines for such adaptations.


Following the 1994 synodical decision churches began writing their own forms, modifying current ones, borrowing from other traditions, or speaking extemporaneously as befit their context. The Lift Up Your Hearts hymnal bi-denominational editorial committee (RCA and CRC) broke with the CRC tradition of putting liturgical forms in the back of the hymnal opting instead to place just a few liturgical forms within the hymnal’s sacrament section and placing other liturgical material in its relevant section.  Between 1994 and 2015 there was little activity in the area of Liturgical Forms outside of the addition of one Profession of Faith Form (2013) and a Service of Baptism (2013) which were prepared by the Faith Formation Committee. 

In 2015 with the formation of Worship Ministries a liturgical forms committee was formed to provide liturgical forms that reflect new realities such as children at the Lord’s Supper, Commissioned Pastors, Profession of Faith being made at various ages, and increased Lord’s Supper celebrations. Shorter forms for baptism, the acceptance of new members, ordination forms for chaplains and a gender neutral form for the ordination of a Minister of the Word were also written. These forms will be presented to the Synod of 2016 for approval.