We have, within a matter of 50 years, completely changed the entire concept of what is a worship service. We’ve adopted an approach that demands ridiculous levels of musical, technical and financial commitment and resources.
We have tied ourselves to the Christian music industry and its endless appetite for change and profit. We have accepted that all of our worship leaders are going to be very, very young people...
Worship has now become a musical term. Praise and worship means music. Let’s worship means the band will play. We need to give more time to worship doesn’t mean silent prayer or public scripture reading or any kind of participatory liturgy. It means music.
Even singing is getting lost in this. As the volume and the performance level goes up, who knows who is singing?
"Liturgy" was a secular Greek word meaning "an act done for the public good." The first Christians found it useful as an explanation of worship - the action by which the church comes to be and is visible to the world.
As InternetMonk points out, a spectator event does not constitute the church. John Maxwell compares this to a football stadium: "22 men on the field, in desperate need of rest; 50,000 people in the stands, in desperate need of exercise."
But the same criticism can be levelled at those of us who engage in traditional liturgy. We can put on services that devolve into concerts, albeit with organ and classical music instead of a band, and an elite few rather than a crowd in "the audience." We can "celebrate" cold rituals through which the people in the pews hibernate.
Any style of liturgy, no matter its stated theology, can revert to paganism's model: a "holy person" (or small group of holy people) conjures up something "spiritual" for whoever puts up the money.
InternetMonk comes to this conclusion: We need Jesus shaped worship, and we need worship that promotes a simple, direct, uncompromising Jesus shaped spirituality.
Anglicans would describe this as "Incarnational," referring to the birth of Jesus in which "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). As Jesus was
- + the fullest expression of God to the world and
- + the perfect human life offered to God,
so the liturgy should express the glory of God and transform all who participate.
Christian liturgy is meant to gather a group of people in devotion to the heavenly Father, nurture their knowledge and love of God through the message of Jesus, and send them into the world filled with the Holy Spirit to bring new life to others.
Good liturgy inspires and expresses the holiness that God generously spreads among all of the people, so much so that it can be carried out from the liturgy and shared with the world.