What we can learn from liturgical churches

By guest blogger Gary Reinecke, www.infocusnet.org

Part 2 of a 3-part series on liturgical churches

Liturgical churches are increasingly leveraging their unique strengths to reach people who are far from God. Through new church planting efforts, young church leaders are reaching people who are not being reached by others and doing that in a liturgical way.

These leaders, often in their 20s, 30s or 40s, are finding there’s an attraction for people who are looking for structure and a connectedness to history. They are drawn to what the liturgical church offers in terms of ties to historical Christianity. This attraction extends to young families, the elderly, and people in between. Children are included in the worship services, creating an intergenerational atmosphere.

Liturgical churches often find they are formed from people of all different ethnic backgrounds. The level of inclusivity is high because the liturgy and tradition are what draws people together, forming a common sense of identity. Word and Sacrament, community and ritual coming together form the central element of worship. The focus is on the community coming together to celebrate Christ.

There is a richness in the liturgical tradition that can accelerate some of the work that the more contemporary church has done. In their effort to plant churches faster, some contemporary churches have thrown out a lot of symbols and liturgy that has added to the historic church over the centuries. Some of the traditions have gotten in the way– remember Mr. Been Goes to Church? — but others serve as milestone markers to guide the pre-Christian and follower of Christ one step further down their spiritual journey.

Cross-pollination between different branches of evangelical Christianity can benefit all groups involved when we embrace the strengths of what each other has to offer. Shared learning can bridge divides– both real and perceived.

For those readers of this blog who do not have a liturgical background, my question is this:  What can we learn from the liturgical church experience? What elements can we incorporate to strengthen our own traditions?