Liturgy

We gather on Sundays. Someone stands at the front and welcomes us. The music team takes its place and leads us in singing. We then come to the offering before the pastor gets up and preaches. As soon as the sermon is over, the music team reappears and leads us in a closing song before we leave.

Most of us don't think we follow a liturgy, but most churches I've attended follow the pattern I've described above. It's not a bad liturgy, but it is a liturgy nonetheless. It's worth considering why we do things the way that we do, and if there's a better way.

"To talk about liturgy in its most basic sense is to talk about what the congregation is gathering to do," writes Mike Cosper.  "In this sense, every church has a liturgy; we all gather with work to do." In his book Rhythms of Grace: How the Church's Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel, Cosper argues:

Our church gatherings are forming the character, beliefs, and devotional life of those who attend ... The goal of our gatherings should be to cultivate practices that form our church to live in the good news of the gospel.

In other words, we have the opportunity to re-tell the gospel every week not just through our sermon, but through the very structure of our services. This means that our services can benefit from following the general pattern described by Bryan Chapell in his book Christ-Centered Worship, including:

  • adoration
  • confession
  • assurance
  • thanksgiving
  • petition
  • instruction
  • charge
  • blessing

"Taken together, these rhythms help the church pray and sing through a full range of human experience," writes Cosper. The goal isn't to wow those who attend. It's to shape and refine the identity of God's people around God's Word and the gospel.

Cosper is right. When we gather on Sundays, we have work to do. We can use the structure and content of our services to help form our people around the gospel.

If you're a pastor or worship leader, I highly recommend Cosper's book. It's worth thinking about the ways that we can shape our liturgies — with pastoral sensitivity, of course — so that the very structure of our services helps form our people to live in the good news of the gospel.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Five Ways to Deepen Your Preaching

Here are 5 lessons I’m learning along the way. If you are a fellow preacher, trying to climb this vast and steep mountain alongside me, I hope these might be helpful to you.

4 Kinds of Pastors

God has beautifully woven together different personalities and gifts within the leadership of His church.

9 Reasons We Must Connect our Churches with Cities

We are called to get the gospel to all peoples of the world (Matt. 28:18-20), and we will not do that if we shy away from the world’s cities.

The Mark of Christianity That Is Disappearing from Our Worship

It is puzzling to see one of the defining marks of a Christian’s identity quietly disappear from a church’s worship.

Why I May Not Fill out a Visitor’s Card in Your Church

I seriously wrestle with whether to complete the card. In fact, I may choose not to. Here’s why.

30 things that might help you finish strong

I am not sure I have any silver bullet for how to stay on the road but here is a not very comprehensive list of things things that I've learnt thus far about how to cultivate a healthy soul.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Measuring Effective Ministry

There are a lot of ways to measure effectiveness in ministry. I've been thinking about what Jeff Christopherson and Mac Lake describe as measures of success in their book Kingdom First: Starting Churches that Shape Movements.

  1. New believers — Seeing the gospel take root in people who were previously far from Christ
  2. New disciple makers — Putting 2 Timothy 2:2 into practice
  3. New communities of faith — churches planting churches
  4. Transforming communities — meeting a physical need and attaching it to God's grace

It's worth thinking about how ministry would change if we set these as our goals, rather than focusing primarily on church attendance.

It's easy to pursue counterfeit success. It's definitely worth the time to think through an accurate description of effectiveness, and then to pray and work with the right end in mind. It's much more exciting and challenging than the alternative.

Comment

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

A New Morning Pattern

It's the morning. My habit has been to make a beeline for the computer. First, I check emails. Then, I read blogs. Then I read my Twitter feed. Then, if I have time left over, I read my Bible.

See the order? Yes, me too. It's bothered me, but I've still generally followed this pattern until recently.

At Exponential this year, I listened to a pastor who only checks emails twice a week. I figured that if he could do this, I could probably settle for checking emails once a day.

When I stopped checking email until late afternoon, I also lost interest in checking blogs and Twitter too.

I'm learning a better morning ritual now. It begins with Scripture, and then leads into a couple of devotional books (New Morning Mercies and Saving Grace), before I crack open my prayer cards. Then, if I have any time left over, I journal.

It's sad, but I find that a wristband helps me remember to do this, just like the cloth cover I put over my computer at night reminds me to stop going online.

Small steps. For me, though, it's a big step. It's time to put what's most important first. I'm learning that most everything else can wait.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

3 Things to Remember Before You Criticize Someone’s Theology

Good criticism is hard work, and it’s necessary work until Christ returns. The above three points won’t prevent us from making every mistake, but they will help us be better critics and therefore better servants of God and truth.

Do All Infants Go to Heaven?

This is more than a theoretical issue designed for speculation. It touches one of the most emotionally and spiritually unsettling experiences in all of life: the loss of a young child.

Is The Smartphone Killing Weekend Church Services?

So the upside for online impact is staggering.

But that doesn’t make the church entirely virtual or downloadable.

The Danger of Comparison

Comparison, if allowed to root, will extinguish your worship to God.

Comment

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.