Fixed Liturgy

These two words came into my spirit and stayed there… I felt that the Holy Spirit wanted me to say a little bit about it. “Fixed liturgy” describes worship in the church. The church of Jesus Christ is a worshipping community and called by the Lord to be a “spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5-9). The word “liturgy” means a “system of public worship, set forms, fixed forms, prescribed rituals.” The church, from the beginning, gathered together for corporate worship. The basic acts of worship in the early church consisted of singing psalms, reading the Scriptures, and the exposition of the Word with prayers and celebrating the Lord’s Supper (derived from the synagogue worship of the Jews, Acts 2:42-46). The apostle Paul mentions revelations, doctrines, speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues as present in the worshipping congregation (1 Corinthians 14:26). The exercise of these gifts were done in an orderly way to edify the believers. Misuse brought confusion.

As the years went by there was a steady departure from this method of worship. The Middle Ages brought the building of great church buildings and a set form of liturgy, preaching the Word, and the Lord’s Supper. The Reformers were more concerned with doctrine than worship. The American churches in the seventeenth century carried from Europe the Reformation principles and modified the worship practices to apply to the colonial lifestyle. The liturgy again became a fixed liturgy. As the frontier pushed westward, revivalism spread. Many believers freed themselves and began their services with lively singing chosen to raise the fervor of the congregation. Prayers were made, offerings taken, special solos were introduced, and an evangelical sermon was preached followed by an altar call. This too became a fixed form of service which exists to this day. The pastor’s sermon included special music to entertain the people while individual participation was limited to the singing of hymns (choruses). The offerings and sermons have become the all-important part of the service. But today, there is a worship renewal going on. People are hungering for the presence of the Holy Spirit in the service.

Today, even in Evangelical and Pentecostal churches, the services are fixed. “This program works for me. Why change?” Many services carry no progressive revelation of the presence of God. We have developed a system of church service that leaves no room for the Holy Spirit to break into. Fixed services have replaced the presence of God. Without a revelation of the presence of God, the services are in danger of becoming a fixed form. When God’s presence is missing, the leaders find other things to fill the lack. They manufacture new words and new ways of doing things, but these new ways are no substitute for the presence of God. Fixed services are often discipline-oriented, rigid, membership-oriented, and projects-oriented. Fixed services do not always connect believers in fellowship. The purpose for fellowship is to help mature believers so that they hear the voice of God. Check it out. Is your church a church with a “fixed” way of doing things? Is the scent is always the same (Jeremiah 48:11)? I have often put it this way… “Sameness… tameness… lameness…”

Pastor George Belobaba

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