Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The Big Question About Mainline, Liturgical Worship

One of the challenges of moving to Hot Springs has been working with liturgy. I have been in formal churches, and in fact, in many ways, First Baptist Church of Colorado Springs was much more formal than United Churches of Hot Springs. First Baptist Fowler was almost anti-liturgy, and I felt non-verbal push back in worship when I would even attempt to introduce a responsive reading. But I have not served in a church that includes so much liturgy as United Churches.

There is much I enjoy about liturgical worship. The planning, the structure, the beauty of something akin to a fourfold structure of worship is lovely. I like having three Scripture readings in each service. Although I think we have too many of them, but I think we do the readings well. As a worship planner, I find that a worship service that is more liturgical in many ways is open to more freedom and creativity in worship, within limits.

Lately, though, I have been wondering about one facet of worship. Why, when the church includes so much of the rest of the liturgical structure, does it forgo the confession of sin and assurance of pardon? As I have visited around, I have found this is not uncommon. A lot of mainline churches otherwise engage in formal, liturgical worship, but they forgo the confession of sin and assurance of pardon. I can think of three reasons why this might be. They are:

1. People are tired of all the formality, and this element of worship puts them over the top

2. This portion of worship identifies them to closely with Catholics and the Catholic-Lite worship of Episcopalians and Lutherans.

3. People want worship to be "positive", and they feel frequent acknowledgement of sin through the confession/pardon is to depressing, sin-focused, and cross focused.

If I were to rank these reasons, I would rank reason #1 at about 15 percent of the reason, #2 at 34 percent of the reason, and #3 as 51 percent of the reason.If I am right, this grieves me.

Do you think I am wrong? What reasons do you think the confession/pardon is eliminated? Let me know.

1 comment:

stephanie said...

It breaks my heart to think that is what get eliminated, because that is my favorite part of a liturgical service. I would guess the reason it's eliminated is because it's not scripture, and if some liturgy has the go, a church is likely to eliminate anything else, other than scripture, first.