For a long time I did not realize that it was a problem of any magnitude but now I realize that is is a problem, and a big one. I am not writing about non-creedal churches but about Lutherans and even Missouri Lutherans who have either consigned the creed to occasional use or use creedal statements other than the three ecumenical creeds (Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian).
On one hand I know of several congregations that use the liturgy from the hymnal but routinely omit several elements of the ordinary of the liturgy in order to save time (from the Kyrie and Hymn of Praise to the Creed and Sanctus). These folks are not anti-creed but have gone astray on their quest to get the crowd in and out in the shortest period of time. Sadly, the time saved by omitting parts of the ordinary is needed because of ridiculously small altar rails for the communion or, worse, to give the Pastor more pulpit time. For whatever intention, the choice to regularly eliminate portions of the ordinary and the creed is a wrong headed practice. Period.
On another hand I know of more than several congregations who use home-made creedal statements in place of the ecumenical creeds. One has the confirmands each write a creed as part of their catechism instruction and then the congregation uses theses creeds on Sunday mornings. While an exercise of writing a creed might be an instructive tool, it is bizarre to have the congregation use these personal statements in place of the Church's creeds. In other congregations they have confessed creeds borrowed from others (I recall seeing a Korean Creed in one bulletin) and their pastors have written things to emphasize on thing or another (often the practical of stewardship and service over confession and doctrine). The creed does not belong to an individual congregation or the clergy -- the creed is the Church's possession and no one has the right to alter or re-write these creeds. Secondly it is a surefire way to make orthodoxy optional and replace it with some fuzzy, local, personal perspective on things. Recall Neuhaus' law that Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed." The creeds are part of the liturgy that instructs and places bounds on orthodoxy.
And then there are the musical substitutes for the creed. While I am less concerned say by the occasional use of sung creeds such as Luther's Wir Glauben All within the context of a Deutsche Messe, I am concerned with the ordinary substitution of any hymn in place of the creed or contemporary songs that similarly lack the classical creedal formations by which we confess the Triune God.
Even more troubling, however, are those many congregations -- especially those using contemporary worship and music -- who hardly ever use the creed as part of the worship service. I know of some who never use a creed except for a baptism. I know of many who find a creed "elitist" or "unwelcoming" and since they target the service toward unchurched people and use the worship service as an outreach tool, the creed is omitted on a regular basis. For these congregations and for the folks in these congregations, the creedal norm of how we define and confess God is missing and with it the most substantive tie to the Church that went before them.
The point of this all is a reminder that the creed is not like the choice of a hymn -- it is part of the ordinary. To those whose congregations routinely omit the creed, I challenge you to reconsider and restore this essential element to the Sunday morning assembly... that the faith may be retained in its historical, Biblical, and classic form and passed on to those just learning the faith...