Why do evangelicals ignore ancient church history? Why do nondenominational churches reject liturgy? Why is there such a gap between American evangelicalism and global Christianity? //
When I was rebranding this blog, I wanted to include the term “liturgy” in my tag line. But my multi-faith writers’ group quickly said no. Liturgy, they said, was synonymous with Catholicism. I countered liturgy simply meant “the work of the people”, as in
- our habits,
- the intentional environment we create,
- our patterns, and
- the way we worship through the consistent choices we make daily.
Everything we routinely do is our liturgy, I argued. Besides, even in the context of church, Catholics do not own the term. Many Protestant worship services contain liturgical elements. My colleagues dissuaded me. I compromised, concluded I’ve spent too much time reading the dictionary, and went with the word “rhythms” instead.
But the exchange stayed with me, and I haven’t been able to stop asking questions. (I still like the word “liturgy.”) Why do we tend to think liturgy is Catholic? Don’t even the most seeker-friendly emergent evangelical churches practice many repetitive liturgies of their own invention — for example, in the distinct and recognizable way a worship team continues to play chords and pluck guitar strings while the leader transitions from singing to prayer at the end of the first set of songs, every single week?
Why are so many Christians determined to reinvent and rename the entire church experience, swapping out every term for something more relevant and hip?
Why do evangelicals shun the concise ancient creeds and write forty-page Statements of Faith instead? (Seriously, why?)
Why do American evangelicals think there’s an inverse relationship between the quantity of art in a church in the the quantity of holiness? Why is “church art” dismissed as religious in non-denominational circles?
Has America’s history of intense individualism really had that much effect on the way we view worship? (In other words, can we blame our uniquely-American hangups on the Puritans?)