The Liturgy of Our Churches

I. The Meaning of “liturgy”.

A. Definition.

1. Webster: a rite or body of rites prescribed for public worship.

2. We might explain it this way: the liturgy consists of all the parts of our public worship service as well as the particular position of each part in the whole service.

B. Thus the liturgy includes the following:

1. The Salutation and Benediction.

2. The congregational singing.

3. The congregational prayer.

4. The sermon.

5. The special forms for worship.

a. The Baptism Form.

b. The Form for the Administration of the Lord’s Supper.

c. The Form of Excommunication.

d. The Form for Ordination.

e. The Form for Marriage, etc.

6. Other aspects of the worship service such as the use of the King James version of the Bible, the use of organs in the church, etc.

II. The Purpose of the liturgy.

A. The purpose of all the liturgy is to aid the congregation in its worship of God.

1. To worship God is to give honor, reverence and praise to Him both for who He is, and what He has done.

a. Thus we worship God as the Sovereign creator and sustainer of the heavens and the earth.

b. But, we also worship God as the God of our salvation in Christ.

2. Notice that God is the center of worship.

a. Man with his talents and experiences is not to be the object or the center of worship.

b. Instead God alone is to be worshipped.

B. The liturgy helps to achieve the purpose in two ways.

1. It achieves the purpose by the orderliness in which the service is conducted. (Read I Corinthians 14:26-40)

2. It achieves the purpose by the fact that the congregation is given a familiar and consistent mode for the expression of its worship.

a. How does the “order of events” in the worship service contribute to this?

b. Sometimes it seems that our liturgy has become so familiar that we no longer pay attention to what is being done, why it is done, or what it means. What should be done about this?

1) Should we change?

2) Should we change the liturgy?

a) Should we keep changing it to keep it fresh?

b) Should we be innovative like many of the churches around us?


III. Particular elements of the liturgy.

A. The Sermon.

1. In the liturgy of the Church it is not the content of the sermon, but its position and role in the whole service that is important.

2. The sermon is not only the longest, but also the central part of our worship service.

a. Why does it have such an important place?

b. In view of the purpose of the liturgy should we shorten the sermons or give them a less significant role?

c How do things like responsive readings, special numbers, films, etc., during a church service affect the sermon or the purpose of the whole liturgy?

B. The Congregational Singing.

1. Congregational singing likewise plays an important role in our worship services. Why?

2. Now and then in our churches there is discussion about whether or not we should sing hymns during the official worship service. You discuss it. Here are some questions to help you.

a. Our Psalter numbers are God-centered; most hymns are man-centered; which best fits the purpose of the worship service?

b. What benefits would there be to add hymns to our Psalter numbers?

c. What are practical problems of gathering and preparing a selection of hymns for our worship services?

C. The list of subjects for discussion is limited only by the number of aspects to the liturgy. Rather than develop additional subjects in detail, here is a list of topics for further discussion.

1. The pros and cons of the King James version of the Bible.

2. The importance and necessity of our forms (including the Marriage Form!!!)

3. The significance of the salutation and benediction in the worship service.

4. The principles behind the elders shaking the hand of the minister after the service, and the elders (and deacons?) sitting separate from the congregation.