Christian Practices

  • Created by: SophieB90
  • Created on: 23-02-18 17:40


Christian Church developed into 3 main group:

Orthodox - from Eastern Mediterranean

Roman Catholic - from Western Mediterranean

The style of worship varies due to their differnet beliefs about God.

Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican churches usually have a liturgy which stays the same each week.

Protestant church services may be freer in style, though they may have some form of set services (i.e. for communion or baptism)

Jesus encouraged his followrs to meet together to worship God (Matthew 18.20)

Christians may also worship privatly. They may use aids to help them to focus on God whilst praying : R.Catholics may use statues or rosaries. Orthodox Christians will use icons.

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All Christians see prayer as important. They can use thir own words to pray (extempore prayer) - this form of prayer is common in Protestant Churches. They may also use set prayers which have been used from the earliest days of Christianity (i.e. Lord's Prayer / Hail Mary) 

Reasons for Prayer :

Adoration [worshipping God]

Confession [saying sorry]

Thanksgiving [thanking God for the things that we have]

Supplication [asking for things that we need]

Some Christians may say grace before a meal to thank God - remembering that without rain or sun, thinhs that we have no control over, we not have food to eat.

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The Lord's Prayer

Image result for lord's prayerThe Lord's Prayer was taught by Jesus to his disciples (Matthew 6:9-15 & Luke 11:1-4)  - It is used by all Christians

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Hail Mary

Hail Mary is a prayer asking Mary to pray for a person. It begins with the words that the Angel Gabriel used to greet Mary when she was old she was to be the mother of Jesus. It is mostly used by Roman Catholics in church services an is the main prayer said when praying in private.Image result for hail mary prayer

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Sacraments are services in a church where visible things [i.e. bread, water or wine] are belived to be a gift from God to the participants.

St Augustine in 5th century described sacraments as 'an outward or visible sign of an inward, invisible grace.'

Jesus commanded his followers to do 2 actions:

1. To share bread and wine  2. To baptise belivers with water

Therefore, most churches accept and practise the sacraments of Holy Communion and Baptism. - only Quakers and the Salvation Army do not have these services.

In the R.Catholic church there are 5 other sacraments: Marriage, Confirmation, Ordination, Confession, Anointing of the sick.

Many Christians in the CofE would also regard these as sacraments - in Orthodox churches these are called Holy Mysteries.

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Sacraments continued...

Christian have different view on baptism:

i. Those who think that a person should make a conscious decision to become a member of the Christian church and be baptised when they are prepared to make a statement of their belief e.g. Baptist churches - this is known as Believer's Baptism.

ii. Those who think that parents and godparents can promise to bring up the person in the Christian faith until they are old enough to make their own statement of faith at confirmation e.g. Roman Catholics

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A pilgrimage is a journey, usually to a place of spiritual significance to a Christian. 

Lourdes : a town in France where a girl [ Bernadette Soubirous] had a vision of the Virgin Mary. A spring appeared at this place and some Christians believe that 69 miracles happened here.

Jerusalem : Jesus was crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem and his disciples believed that they saw the resurrected Jesus there. Pilgrims may visit sites associated with the life of Jesus and this helps those Bible storis come to life for them.

Rome : The Pope live's in the Vatican, which is built on the site of the martyrdom of St Peter and St Paul. R.Catholics want to visit St Peter's Basilica [their most important church] and take part in the mass celebrated by the Pope.

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Advent and Christmas

Festival celebrates the Birth of Jesus [descired in Gospels of Matthew and Luke].

Adevnt is the 4 Sundays leading up to Christmas Day. Advent Sunday is the beginning of the Christian year. Some churches have advent wreaths and candles lit each Sunday to symbolise light coming into the world.

There may be special services at Christmas, such as Midnight Mass or Christingle service. Many schools and churches have nativity plays and carol services to help children learn more about Christmas and the birth of Jesus.

In Western Churches Christmas is celebrated on 25th December - Orthodox Churches do not celebrate Christmas in the same way, they celebrate the baptism of Jesus on 6th January. For Western Churches this is called Epiphany.

Christmas is a time when many Christians help those in need, by giing to charities or providing food and shelter to the homeless and lonely.

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Easter is the most important seasn of the Christian year for Christians.

Lent = lasts 40 days; not including Sundays, and is the time Christians prepare themselves to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday when Christians show repentence for their sins by having a cross marked on their foreheads with ash. Ash is also a reminder of mortality.

During Lent Christians fast, by giving up luxury foods and giving money to charity and/or learning more about their faith.

The last week of Lent is Holy Week which remembers the last week of Jesus' earthly life:

Palm Sunday = remembers how Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey [John 12:12-13] - palm crosses are given to the congregation.

Maundy Thursday = remembers Jesus' last supper with his disciples when he washed their feet and told them to remember him by sharing bread and wine [John 13:12-15].

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Easter continued...

Good Friday = remembers Jesus' crucixion. The church is stripped of decoration, to symbolise sadness and church services are quiet and reflective.

Easter Sunday = celebrates Jesus' resurrection. It may start before dawn with a vigil service at which a new fire is lit, from which the Easter candle is lit, followed by the candles of the congregation, The church is often decorated with flowers, especially lillies. Traditionally people eat eggs as a symbol for new life.

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Rites of Passage

All religions have ceremonies to mark differnet stages in a person's life :

Birth = baptism , dedication

Entering Adulthood = confirmation , baptism

Marriage = wedding

Death = funeral

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Baptism (Rites of Passage)

Symbols used in baptism are :

Water = cleansing and life-giving ; symbolises that God forgives a person's sins ; by going under the water the person shares in Jesus' death and resurrection like, this is why Baptism's a ususally at Easter.

Sign of Cross = made on the forehead of someone being baptised ; shows that this person is marked as Christ's own.

Holy Oil = Olive oil was used as a medicine ans so symbolises the healing power of God ; rubbed on by gladiators to strengthen them before a fight, so also symbolises being strengthened by Christian life.

White Garment = symbol of purity ; at baptism a person is forgiven and cleansed by God to live a new kind of life.

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Marriage (Rites of Passage)

A wedding service in a Christian Church :

Starts with an explanation of what Christians believe is the purpose of marriage

Check there is no lawful reason the couple should not be married

Couple exchange vows

Couple exchange rings

Prayers to ask God to bless the marriage

Hymns may be sung

The couple may choose to have nuptial mass (communiun)

The couple sign and are given their marriage certificate (legal, non-religous requirement)

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Funerals (Rites of Passage)

Christians believe in life after death.

They believe that God brought Jesus back from the dead and that his followers will share that resurrection life [John 3:16] - For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Some Christians belive that they will go straight to heaven to be with God. Others believe that they will be resurrected at the Parousia ( when Jesus returns to Earth)

Christian funeral services can take many different forms, here are some common features:


Reading from the Bible

Prayers asking God to comfort the friends and family of the person that has died

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Funerals (Rites of Passage) continued...

Christian funeral services can take many different forms, here are some common features:


Burial or cremation

R.Catholics believe that a person's soul spends time in Purgatory being prepared for heaven. Their funerals therfore include prayers for the person that has died and a Requiem Mass in which they pray.

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How do Church Communities support families?

Life can be challenging for everyone at times. Church communities provide support for people at different stages of their lives.

Children = provide activities during sunday services; youth clubs or discussion groups ; mother and toddler classes ; or services aimed specifically at children (Messy Church)

Marriage = may be preperation classes for couples before they marry - helps them to understand the purpose of a Christian marriage.

       The Mother's Union = International Anglican organisationto help support parents when bringing up children. It continues to give practical advice to parents, especially those wiching to bring their child up in the Christian faith.

Older People = Christian ministers or members of the congregation may visit older people regularly as they may feel isolated and lonely. Some church may have special clubs for older people to help them socialise with other people.

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Church in the Wider World

Mission = Jesus told his disciples to share his teachings with other people [Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:15] - Churches have sent people to places where there were not many Christians to help spread the message of Christianity. Many of these missionaries are doctors, nurses or teachers and they worked to provide medical care and education to people in poorer countries.

Evangelism = Christian action of sharing the good news about Jesus and encouraging them to accept the beliefs of Christianity. This could be done through preaching or through action - the founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth, said that you cannot preach about the love of God to someone who is cold or hungry.

All Christians should talk about and show their faith to other people in their daily life.

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World Council of Churches

The WCC began after WW2

Their aim is to bring different churches closer together - Protestant and Orthodox churches are members, the RC church is not a memebr but works very closely with it.

Together these churches campaign on key world issues such as HIV, food security and climate change.

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The word Ecumenical comes from the Greek word for world wide.

It refers to churches from different denominations seeking to work more closely together

The aim of the WCC is to help Christians to larn from each other and work more closely together.

Ecumenical Communites

Taize = ecumenical community in France ; orginally it was a place of shelter for Jewish refugees seeking to escape Nazism. After WW2 it became a place of reconciliation between people from nations which had been enemies. In the 1960s it became a place where people can go and find out more on Christiantity from the Brothers.

Iona = Found in Scotland ; its members come from any Christian church, they do not live on Iona but meet there once a year.

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More Christians have been killed for their faith in the last 100 years than in any other time in Church history.

For instance,

Christians in Iraq or Syria killed by ISIS

Christians put in concentration or death camps by the Nazis

Individual standing up for Justice [Dorothy Stang]

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