If you want your church’s worship to develop and your worship leading to grow, being intentional about your worship is the very first step that you should take. Today, we are going to look at two disciplines that will help us be more intentional about our worship, but first, I want to talk about what it means to “be intentional” about or worship.
First, spend time with your Sunday morning worship. Spend time thinking through songs: lyrically, melodically, and the arrangement (see last week’s article here). Spend time thinking through your prayers. This is a great first step towards being intentional about worship.
Secondly, ask questions about your worship. What are we doing? Why are we doing these things? How do we want to go about our worship? What are we trying to communicate to the congregation? What is God trying to communicate to our local church? And then keep asking questions. Sometimes you may find answers; sometimes you may not. Sometimes you may find your answer satisfactory; sometimes you will find your answer lacking. Questions are another great way to
The first discipline we are going to look at is that of liturgiology, or liturgics. Liturgics is primarily considered with the texts of our worship. This includes everything from the songs we sing, to the words spoken at baptism or communion, the prayers we speak, etc. Liturgiology reflects on these words. It considers whether they are right, appropriate, and able to be reflected upon by the congregation.
Liturgiology also considers how worship is done in action. While more common in High-Church contexts, liturgiologists may look at the movement of the celebrant (usually the pastor, priest, or bishop) and give meaning to that movement. There is certainly room while discussing worship to consider how we move and the actions we make.
With the discipline of liturgy, we see the process of reflecting on what is done in worship and how our worship is done in a very practical manner. What are we saying? Does this reflect what our church believes? Does it align with Scripture? Are we using language that the people can use (the vernacular)?
Liturgics is the study of liturgies. If you were to write down your worship on a piece of paper, everything that is said and done, you would study what you see on paper. I would highly recommend this practice. This will give you, your worship team, and fellow staff members the opportunity to see what you do every Sunday.
If liturgics is the practical discipline of looking at our worship (or liturgies), then as the name suggests, liturgical theology is the theological discipline of reflecting on our worship. Liturgical theology seeks to explain the meaning of our worship. What does our worship mean?
This discipline certainly requires a depth of thought that may take some time to catch onto. While this may be due to the young nature of liturgical theology, it does take some time to get used to thinking through this discipline. A helpful way to begin thinking in terms of liturgical theology is to ask what is the nature of the church and what is the nature of her worship? This discipline requires us to have a developed ecclesiology, or theology of the church. These are some starting questions to ask when considering the meaning of your church’s worship.
Here’s a great question that many evangelical churches in the United States need to be able to answer: what separates the Church’s assembly and rituals, i.e. her worship, from any other religions worship? If evangelical churches, their staff, and especially their worship leaders, can adopt this discipline of liturgical theology, we may begin to offer an answer to this important question.
Liturgical theology and liturgiology go hand in hand. One seeks to understand what is going on in worship and the other seeks to use the best words and actions to communicate that.
So what does this process of being intentional mean for your future Sunday worship gatherings? First, it means that if you become more intentional about your worship, your congregations will more rightly worship the triune God. Therefore, their theology and understanding of God will be more right. As I’ve written about briefly before here, our worship establishes what we believe.
If I may be so bold to suggest, this intentional process may just allow us to enjoy God’s presence more; as a gathered people and as a sent people. Weekly we can enjoy God’s grace through Word, Prayer, and Communion. Finding the best words our language has to offer, we can offer our praises and petitions knowing that God is with us and that He is working in and through us for His Kingdom.
This is our task as worship leaders: to help our congregations find words, actions, and spiritual postures that unveil and respond to what God is doing in our midst. Through the disciplines of liturgiology and liturgical theology, we can perform our task with more excellence and more rightly. This is the race that we have been called to run, so keep on running. Pace yourself, as life is a marathon, but do not hold back, either.
Jason Palmer is the Administrator of TalkingWorship.com. Jason has a Bachelor of Science in Ministry with a Worship Arts Major and Music Minor. He has lead worship for evangelical churches for 7 years and desires to see worship leaders become confident in their calling.