I’m certainly not an expert on types and styles of worship, but I might be able to offer insight as to why I tend to favor the liturgical and traditional style of worship rather than other styles of worship. But before I do so, I will preface my favored choice of worship by saying this: In the Old Testament God prescribed the worship of his people; in the New Testament, no such prescription was given so there is certainly Christian freedom involved when it comes to what and how a Christian church chooses to worship their Savior.
I grew up in a church that worshipped liturgically and I’m now part of a church that has chosen liturgical worship for its weekly worship. So, allow me to explain the advantages, in my opinion, of liturgical worship.
In liturgical worship, we follow a church season. Just like there are 4 seasons that we enjoy in the state of Wisconsin, spring, summer, fall, and winter, and just as we look forward to the passing and beginning of a new season, so too, the liturgical church follows a religious change of seasons. We highlight the life of Christ through these various seasons. The first season of the church is Advent, where we prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. Then we celebrate his birth in a Christmas season and so forth. So not only do the readings follow this seasonal pattern, but also the songs that we sing reflect the season that we are in.
In Hebrews 13:7, the Bible states, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” The implication, of course, is that these leaders are already dead and gone. So, there is this connection of the church on earth to the church of its ancestors as well. It’s kind of neat when you consider the fact that the Kyrie, or the Lord have mercy, has been sung by Christians for nearly 2,000 years, marking words that are often used by people that encountered Jesus during his ministry – “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). We also recite ancient creeds that date back as early as the 200’s AD.
Another advantage that I see from liturgical worship, and certainly this could be debated by those who don’t use a liturgy, is that the gospel predominates throughout! While pastors work very hard on their sermons to deliver an articulate message that conveys both Law and Gospel, sometimes, we don’t always hit the nail on the head like we would like to. However, the liturgical service is surrounded by ancient rites and creeds that continue to take us through both Law and Gospel, despite our sermons which might suffer at times.
And this leads me to my last point about why I appreciate liturgical worship so much. It’s repetitive! They say that repetition is the mother of all learning, and it is! Our children coming to church each week hear either the Apostle’s Creed, or Nicene Creed each week, which is a basic summary of who the God of the Bible is and what he has done for us. That creed gets imprinted on that child’s mind so that already at a young age, he or she has God’s name imbedded on their hearts and minds. The Lord’s Prayer is also said each week. And while critics of repetitious worship see repetition as robotic and mindless worship, I tend to disagree and simply say, “Yes, it can become mindless and robotic,” but wecan also overcome that by knowing just how precious these ancient truths of God’s Word really are!
Again, liturgical worship is not the only style, but I would say that it’s a proven style. But my advice to any church, whether they choose contemporary or traditional styles of worship would be this – do it well!
God’s blessings on your day!
Pastor Matthew P. DeNoyer