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Liturgy, Who Needs It? (Turns Out We Do)

A carving that showcases a biblical character,

A stained-glass image that depicts a biblical story,

A table that invites us into the Jesus story,

A cross that points us toward our dying Lord and the death it invites us to embrace.

Our contemporary gatherings need to create space for scripture reading and symbol if we hope to give people the opportunity to reflect and imagine.

Creating Space for Reflection

2) Most contemporary church gatherings simply do not create space for reflection.

We’ve become so fast-paced. Life is always a rush. As a result, we’re not accustomed to having any time to pause and ponder.

The problem is only exacerbated in our church services.

Why? Because we have a second or third service starting in an hour or so, we often don’t have the time to incorporate liturgical cues that give space for pause and wonder.

After all …

We have to keep the ship moving forward.
We have to maintain a schedule.

What are we missing?

It’s almost as if quiet and liturgical pauses make us feel uncomfortable. Like we’re not quite sure what to do with ourselves. Like we’re wasting precious time.

In the congregation that I attend, I can almost guarantee that every moment of silence will be interrupted with someone in the congregation feeling the need to speak out loud. It’s like we’ve been trained to believe silence is deadly and must be disrupted with noise.

Silence makes us uncomfortable. Silence scares us. Silence is not entertaining.

What are we missing?

Moving Away From a Performance-Based Program

3) Most contemporary church gatherings are more concerned about creating a performance-based program that seeks to keep people entertained, not liturgically engaged.

However, while an entertainment-based church service model may keep people from falling asleep, it will rarely, if ever, cause them to engage the Gospel and encourage active, thoughtful and meaningful participation.

In fact, over time, people will become conditioned not to respond. And the result will be a group of people who end up being more concerned with the quality of the performance than with the quality of the liturgy. When people grade a church service as either good or bad, you know you’ve entered into a performance-based mindset.