When you walk into a church and join in a service of worship, there are three main ways the “order of service” is communicated: moment-by-moment (such as by PowerPoint), single-service (such as by a bulletin), and full-liturgy (such as by a prayerbook). Although the intention of the worship planners may vary, each of these three methods communicate something very different about Christian spirituality and point to three different theologies of worship.
Secondly there’s the bulletin worship experience. This is the hallmark of Protestant religion. Like the PowerPoint model, this sort of spirituality is also very ingredient-focused when it comes to understanding the “meal of worship.” What’s different here is that a more thoughtful approach is taken to using those ingredients. Instead of leading people step by step through the worship service, the entire service is planned ahead of time – what to sing, what to read, what to preach, and when to do it all – and that plan is shared with the congregation. This puts the congregation in a position to see not only what their worship is “made of,” but also to see “how it’s made.” The significance of this going beyond the inquisitive worshipper wondering what’s next, but helps everyone to see the intentionality behind worship – to see that it’s not just an experience of individual ingredients, but a coherent act that people engage in together as one body.
The spirituality that this supports is notably more mature than the spontaneous-only mentality. People realize that worship is more than a complex of actions and ingredients, and deeper than mere subjective experiences. There’s an objectivity to worship: God is a real person (or rather, three persons) who promises His presence in the Church, and we therefore offer him all praise and glory.
Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow!