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  • Writer's picturePage Brooks

Why You Don’t Want to Use Liturgy In Your Church

Updated: Aug 5, 2022

Liturgical worship is coming back into style nowadays, though it has been around for centuries. Some people love it; some people hate it. We started using liturgy in our church several years ago. Here’s why you shouldn’t use it.

The Connections to the Ancient Church

Many people associate the use of liturgy with the Roman Catholic Church. Actually, the Romans were not the first to use liturgy. Liturgy developed in the Early Church, possibly having been influenced by liturgy from Jewish backgrounds. Using liturgy gives a sense of connection to something more than the local church. Liturgy allows a local church to feel connected to the universal church that consists of all true believers through the ages. Today, churches pride themselves on being independent, creating new things, and trying to “start movements.” Liturgy reminds us that we are already part of a greater movement of God’s kingdom on earth. If you don’t want to be reminded that we are part of a greater movement and have connections to the church through the ages, then don’t use liturgy.

The Emphasis on the Church as a Family

The word “liturgy” comes from the Latin and Greek words meaning “the work of the people,” or “the work of public service.” Liturgy partly developed as a way to include ALL people together in worship. This idea stands in stark contrast to today’s worship where the emphasis is on the worship leader, preacher, or person giving a testimony. Contemporary worship is all about keeping people entertained and then coming back for more each week. Liturgy, on the other hand, allows the focus to be for all the people of the church to participate together in prayers, responses, and worship. If you don’t want people participating together, then don’t use liturgy.

The Leveling of the Worship Ground

Contemporary worship elevates those with certain talents, beauty, and abilities. Because common liturgy is used each Sunday, people come to know what to expect and understand the movements of the worship. Liturgy has the effect of leveling the worship ground. It doesn’t matter how talented or not you are, how much you can read or not, or even if you can sing or not. When liturgy is used, EVERY person participates in the worship, not just those on stage. If you don’t want everyone participating in worship, then don’t use liturgy.

The De-emphasis on the Individual

Worship today tends to emphasize the tastes of the individual. Regretfully, music choice centers on what sounds good. Sermon topics revolve around the felt needs of the congregation. While sometimes these issues are important to keep in mind, our culture emphasizes individual empowerment. Liturgy reminds us that the world does not revolve around us, especially worship. Instead, God has ordained worship to belong to Him as the chief audience. Liturgy allows us to be participants in the worship event that centers upon God. If you want to keep empowering postmodern individualism in worship, then don’t use liturgy.

The Celebration of Scripture

It occurred to me one day when I was looking at all the scripture readings and scriptural prayers in the liturgy…Romans Catholics have more scriptures readings in their worship than most Protestant churches! Liturgy is a celebration of Scripture. In fact, most liturgy is simply Scripture that is re-arranged for the flow of the worship service. If you don’t want more scripture in your worship, then don’t use liturgy.

The Establishment of a Routine

Whether church leaders like to admit it or not, all churches get into a routine. Even in the most Protestant, independent, contemporary churches, a routine is established. In essence, a “liturgy” is formed anyway because a regular and expected flow has developed. In following established liturgical patterns that the church has used through the centuries, churches can borrow from the rich tradition that has formed believer’s spiritual lives for centuries instead of having to reinvent worship for today. If you really prefer to do it on your own, then don’t use liturgy.

The use of liturgy has been life changing for our worship. While we use liturgy in our church, we are never a slave to it. Rather, liturgy acts as a guide to lead us into proper times of worship, rather than depending upon the emotional whims of the day. At the same time, it also allows us to be lead by the Spirit during appropriate times. Our worship is not dull and life-less. Rather, liturgy has enlivened us to be Spirit-led but also be grounded in a flow that is anchored in something more than ourselves. Liturgy allows the ground at the cross to truly be level as we come to worship Christ.

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