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Religion Library: Baptist

Worship and Devotion in Daily Life

Written by: David Buschart

The same beliefs and values are reflected in Baptist patterns of devotion in daily life. The primary connections between corporate worship and devotion in daily life are the Bible and the individual Christian's living in accord with it. Thus, a common practice among Baptist Christians is to strive for a daily "quiet time" or "devotions," often consisting of prayer and either reflective reading or study of one or more passages of scripture. Also included may be the reading of a selection from a Christian devotional writing. In keeping with the emphasis on the individual's direct relationship with God, there is no prescribed or expected manual that orders these times of private devotion, though many Baptist Christians will choose some kind of devotional book or guide to help structure these times. Some Baptist churches recommend or encourage their members to use various resources to guide and enrich these times of personal devotion.

In part because the Baptist tradition is not sacramental, there are no necessary and explicit connections between corporate worship and devotion in daily life. Members of Baptist churches do not need either the Church or clergy to oversee or mediate their personal devotion to and with God. Baptist practice desires and intends that what takes place in corporate worship will encourage and inform devotion in daily life and that the spiritual nurture that occurs through devotion in daily life will enrich and energize participation in corporate worship.

Another important dimension of devotion in daily life is "outward" in its orientation. In addition to what can be described as "inward" attention to increasing growth in spiritual maturity, or Christlikeness, there is also in the Baptist tradition an outward orientation that motivates and informs devotion in daily life. As Christians grow in spiritual maturity, their daily lives are meant to serve as a witness to the world, to those who are not followers of Christ. Through not only learning what the Bible says but also allowing God, through the Holy Spirit, to shape one's thoughts, speech, and conduct, one becomes a witness to the reality and work of Jesus Christ in the midst of the routines of daily life.


Study Questions:
     1.    Why are Baptist churches labeled “non-liturgical”? Why is this misleading?
     2.    How is Baptist corporate worship structured?
     3.    What does the architecture of a Baptist church reveal about the tradition’s emphasis?
     4.    Describe common elements within Baptist corporate worship.
     5.    Why are personal devotions of particular importance to the Baptist faith?

 

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