Essentials, Ministerials, Incidentals


In a nutshell, and with beautiful simplicity, the three basic essentials of the Moravian Church are: faith, love, and hope. Everything the church does should be for the purpose of building people up in faith, in love, and in hope. If the church does not do this, it is not really the church. More importantly, if a person has faith, love, and hope, he or she is a Christian regardless of what the institutional church says.

For a little bit more of a refined definition of essentials, we are taught that first are the essential works of God, which are creation, redemption, and sanctification (or blessing). Second are the ways we respond to God’s work, namely, with faith, love, and hope. God’s work comes before our response, but the work of God and our response are both essential.

These are the essential things: God creates; God redeems; God blesses. And we respond in faith, in love and in hope.


The Ministerials include things like the clergy, sacraments, sacred rites and creeds. They are not “incidental” or “non-essential.” These things lead people to God; they build people up in faith, love and hope. They are sacred gifts of God, but they are sacred only when they lead people to what is essential. They are not sacred in themselves. If the ministerial things ever get in the way of what is essential, then the church needs to change its practices and teachings.


Incidentals are things such as wearing robes or not wearing robes during worship, singing traditional hymns or singing more contemporary music, etc. Incidentals are related to the way we might do things during worship, or when out in the community. Incidental things support ministry, support worship, support faith, and can help make worship easier and more accessible, but they are not essential and it’s possible people may not have access to any of these things and could still be participating in worship, faith, and Christianity.

*Information for this page has been adapted from an article on For more information and a more detailed history on this topic, please visit the original article.