Christianity - Worship: Where and How

This GCSE RE quiz takes a look at where and how Christians worship. Christianity covers such a length and breadth of traditions, that there are almost infinite variations and gradations in where and how different denominations set about their worship.

It seems naturally reasonable that a group of believers who share their faith will wish, at least sometimes and probably regularly, to meet and celebrate it, and to evolve forms of words &/or gestures &/or music through which to do this in an agreedly effective and atmospheric fashion. From the early disciples and apostles in the Upper Room, to the vast open-air services held (for instance) when the Pope goes on tour, to the sharing of thoughts and prayers through broadcast media and the Web, worship has developed in many forms and guises.

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But what characterises true Christian worship, in these or other arenas, will probably be a deep pattern moving from confession (to God, of one’s shortcomings) to study of the Scriptures through reading and exposition, to prayer for the wider Christian community and world at large, along with specific needs (the ill or troubled; world or local issues for which God’s guidance is sought). The core observance, as instituted by Jesus Himself at the Last Supper, is the Holy Communion (it goes by a variety of other names) in which His supreme sacrifice was foreshadowed and is since commemorated.

Worship may be formal, with a codified liturgy (traditionally in a service-book) and led by some form of priest or president, and maybe including stages where all present express and explore their beliefs through music; or it may just be a small number of believers coming together to pray ‘as the Spirit moves’, with or through music or indeed using none at all. Contemplative worship may indeed even be offered in sincere silence.

Please note that we have separate quizzes covering Rites of Passage (from birth/naming to death, via marriage) and Festivals (e.g. Christmas and Easter), but that still leaves quite a range as you'll shortly see!

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  1. When Jesus was once asked about how best to pray, the gist of His response was:
    For private devotions (the core of faith), simple sincerity is the key. Answer 1 refers to a deliberately 'bad example' adjacent in His teaching; Answer 2 may seem unhelpful but is certainly not an essential requirement; Answer 4 would rule out spontaneous 'arrow prayers' ~ which would be very sad and unhelpful to the believer in one of life's momentary tight-spots.
  2. It might be easy enough to imagine that first great Christian convert and missionary, St Paul, arriving in a new port somewhere around the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, greeting a Christian contact (if any) and then asking 'Take me and show me the Church'. Why would that NOT have been likely, or even possible?
    'Church' ('ekklesia') was originally a community of people, rather than a physical landmark identified as its headquarters. There may be plausible elements in each of the false answers ... but only answer 1 is essentially true.
  3. Which of the following broadly paraphrased statements has NEVER, at any time, been held-to by a recognisable portion of the worldwide Church as a whole?
    Answer 1 has a strong whiff of the Puritanical about it (you could look that up; but remember that prior to the Restoration, English people were liable to punishment for trying to celebrate Christmas!); Answer 2 is more (dare we say) 'in tune' with the lower-church and nonconformist ethos, such as of the Methodists (traditionally staunch singers) and Pentecostalists (somewhat as in Gospel Choirs), though there is of course also a rich legacy of sublime and elaborate church music in the Catholic, Anglican and other denominations. Answer 3 harks back to Psalm 100 in the Old Testament (and hence, sung worship as Jesus Himself would have known it).
  4. Again there will probably be exceptions ~ but for churches that follow a Liturgy (i.e. they use a set 'Prayer Book' with organised services, rather than seeing themselves as spontaneous and 'Spirit-led'), most such services will include certain standard spoken elements. Which of the following would most likely happen FIRST within such a service?
    Confession would need to come first, since without 'wiping the slate clean of sin' (our phrase rather than the Church's), we would not be worthy to approach God's presence. The remaining 3 elements would then probably follow from the top of our order here: Scripture reading, exposition by a spiritual leader, then prayers in the light of that. There would be plenty of other items (set prayers for given days of the church year; in more traditional circles, a 'hymn sandwich' in which the congregation gets to express its collective faith through song as well as speech, at various stages of the service) ...
  5. The second word of the Lord's Prayer, in most (if not all) mainstream English versions, is 'Father'; what is the second word of most forms of the Creed?
    'Creed' comes from the Latin verb 'credo' ('I believe'), from which we also derive the adjectives 'credible/incredible' (= that which can, or can't, be believed). Depending on the context and tradition, individual worshippers would start this part of the service by declaring 'I' or 'we believe' (hence our focus on the 2nd word, rather than the 1st!). Answers 1 and 2 might be plausible at other times within worship, but it would be unusual for those in church to approach God in so baldly selfish a manner as to tell Him 'I/we WANT ... ! (Even if asking Him for some blessing on behalf of other people!)

    Please note that we offer a separate quiz elsewhere which begins unpacking Christian beliefs through the Creeds.
  6. Where does Christianity, in general, stand on the matter of whether its buildings &/or worshippers ought to be facing in a particular direction? Choose ONE of the following which is the probably most generally true.
    Answer 1 may well be increasingly true (your author could name several such churches, including St Helen's in Abingdon ~ St Helen's) but still wouldn't be by any means 'general' across the Christian spectrum; meanwhile, several types of Christians would regard answer 2 as somewhat old-fashioned, and not every place of Christian worship uses set Creeds as such nor has a High Altar, nor any tradition of having to turn towards it.

    This leaves us with answer 3, which is broadly and traditionally true ... and nobody's likely to start turning-round the entire outer shells of substantial existing church buildings, in the name of liturgical precision!
  7. In which of the following situations might a gathering acceptably remain completely silent throughout?
    A silent meeting (full of prayer and contemplation, but when nobody felt spiritually moved to take a lead and contribute anything aloud) can happen in the best of faith from time to time. Monastic communities (answer 2) would almost certainly join in chanting Psalms, prayers and various responses; the Amish (answer 3) would be as likely as anyone to have spoken prayers; and a choral evensong (answer 4) with a silent choir would be a frustratingly futile worship experience! (It perhaps bears saying, though, that when a trained choir takes the lead, in live performance of a high quality, the congregation may not feel it gets much chance to open its mouth ~ except for the occasional spoken 'Amen' and perhaps a token hymn or two at either end of the service!)
  8. Which of the following represents the LEAST likely, widespread or regular use for candles in connection with Christian worship?
    Any of these is entirely reasonable depending on your church tradition; but if only by definition, baptisms are presumably more 'occasional' than any of these other uses.
  9. Some of the more major and traditional branches of the Christian church change the colour scheme of their liturgical linen (altar frontals, priestly garments and suchlike) according to the time of the church's year, so that the colour helps to signal an occasion and evoke a mood.

    All through the summer (after Trinity and well into the autumn) the default colour is usually green; there are also white, red and blue, and rather occasionally other possibilities. Blue/violet is for penitential and preparatory seasons (Advent before Christmas; Lent before Easter); white represents innocence (the birth at Christmas; festivals involving the Spirit, such as non-martyred saints and the conversion of Paul); which of the following is NOT a liturgical significance of red?
    All Saints are honoured collectively in white (presumably since not all of them were bloodily martyred, and all are now 'clean' in the hereafter anyhow); the remaining symbolisms ought largely to explain themselves. Answer 4 refers to the coming of 'tongues of fire' (see early in the Acts of the Apostles).
  10. 'Surely any church worthy of that name ought to contain an organ?'

    ... Well, if you were hoping to 'sing along', there could be plenty of good reasons why you may not find one. Which of these would you consider the saddest, or weakest?
    Yes, answer 3 is probably the saddest ~ if there is still a real instrument in playable condition. An active organist (such as your author) might take any of the others as a cue for lively debate, but one can at least appreciate the supposed speakers' reasons.

    This present space is probably not the appropriate forum to do any more than raise the observation that any church, as a living entity, is bound to move on in the way it articulates its traditions (it would otherwise be unhealthy!); hence it does need to ask itself occasional quite painful questions about its purpose, its style and its infrastructure ... which more or less brings us back to the overall point of the present quiz!

Author: Ian Miles

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