Corporate Worship is Formative

The liturgy of a church shapes the liturgy of life.

How a church worships week in and week out forms the people—it molds their culture by shaping their inclinations through habitual practices, because as we have already seen, the shape of the liturgy transmits its values. Like that path through the forest, when people travel along the liturgy that we have provided for them, they will inevitably be shaped by the values and beliefs worn into it.

 

Last week I mentioned that we are inevitably shaped by worldly liturgies, and so we need something to counteract this.

This is where it will be useful to narrow the definition of leitourgia to how it has been used at least since the LXX as the work of the people in corporate worship.

Most evangelicals today consider corporate worship as simply a Christian’s expression of authentic devotion toward God. Yet here is the sixth peg of my argument: Liturgy—considered now in terms of corporate worship—is not just an expression of “authentic” devotion; liturgy is formative. It is not just expressive, and this is why repetition is necessary, for repetition is necessary for formation. This is how corporate worship fits into the Great Commission: the liturgy of a church shapes the liturgy of life.

How a church worships week in and week out forms the people—it molds their culture by shaping their inclinations through habitual practices, because as we have already seen, the shape of the liturgy transmits its values. Like that path through the forest, when people travel along the liturgy that we have provided for them, they will inevitably be shaped by the values and beliefs worn into it. It is in Christian liturgy that a Christian’s heart, as Lewis said, is “organized by trained habits into stable sentiments.” It is in Christian liturgy that a Christian’s inclinations are discipled and trained. It is in Christian liturgy that the negative effects of worldly liturgies may be counteracted.

What is important about a corporate worship service is not just what is said from the pulpit or the doctrine of the hymns, for there are aspects of Christian piety that are inarticuable;

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