Speaking broadly, the traditional liturgical pattern is designed for worship, the revivalist pattern for bringing people to a place of decision.
In the churches that have more of a teaching style, the revivalist/teaching pattern functions primarily to instruct and equip Christians through Biblical knowledge. The decisional aspect is not as immediate. Life change is encouraged through applying the Word.
I became convinced long ago…
- That Christian worship follows a certain order.
- That this order has been proven sound and salutary through the church’s history.
- That the main parts of this order involve Christians meeting around (1) the Word, and (2) the Table (and Baptism on occasions when it is practiced).
- That the purpose of these two main parts is to lead us to Christ through the retelling of the Gospel.
- That the subsidiary parts lead to and from the main parts: (1) Gathering, and (2) Sending.
- That whatever elements are practiced in worship should serve the liturgy (music, prayers, testimonies, readings, drama, etc.) by enabling the congregation to prepare for or respond to the revelation of Christ in Word and Table.
I became more and more dissatisfied with the revivalist/teaching pattern of church service primarily because I found it did not assist me in truly worshiping God. It did not lead me into Gospel realities week after week. It focused too much on specific instruction or areas of decision that did not always include the entire congregation. It did not enable me to feel that I was part of the communion of saints gathered around the throne. There may have been a “praise” portion of the service, but as a whole it did not seem to me that the service was centered on Christ and what he has done for us, but rather it was mainly about learning or making decisions about what I should be doing for Christ.
But some of you are probably saying, why do we have to talk about an “order” for worship at all? Aren’t we just called to come to church and worship God? Can’t we just gather and worship from our hearts?No.Every meeting has an order. No congregation that I know of is truly and absolutely spontaneous when they meet together. Everyone has a “liturgy,” a pattern of what we do when we gather. (Surprisingly, you might discover that the “non-liturgical” churches are stricter in their patterns and less “free” in their worship than many “liturgical” congregations!) This order is simple and centered on the Gospel. It provides the basic form in which we can freely worship God through our Lord Jesus Christ in the fullness of the Spirit.