Liturgy as Means of Cultural Transformation

Instead of constantly asking “What’s wrong with the liturgy?” we should be asking “What’s wrong with the culture?”- concentrating our attention on the renewal of the culture through liturgy, not vice versa. The goal of good liturgy is always to transform the lives of people [the transforming of culture] by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is hardly accomplished if the liturgy is subjected to the whimsies of culture. Culture, untransformed by liturgy, in effect destroys that liturgy. The church becomes indistinguishable from the culture and the Gospel is lost. This is the real secularization and destruction of the Gospel.

From Lutheran Worship: History and Practice

Arthur A. Just
Professor and Chairman of Exegetical Theology


Michael Horton on the Focus of Worship

To tell the truth, the focus in most conservative and contemporary services is similar. Often, both focus on what we are doing as the congregation (praising, giving our gifts), rather than accenting what God is doing for us. Thus, both traditional and contemporary forms have more in common than either has with historic Reformed worship. Arguments over which songs to use, for instance, often fail to get to deeper issues, partly because our chief interest is in what we are doing instead of in God’s activity in the service. Our answer has been to center our services on God.

Many of our people know their way around so-called contemporary forms of entertainment and worship much better than do those who have just recently determined to enlist these forms in Reformed worship. They therefore hardly fit the stereotypical image of the fuddy-duddy who resists worship change in principle. For them, in fact, the singing of praise songs is old news, and the singing of the Psalter is fresh and bracing. Like someone who is used to fast food but then sits down at an elegant feast, those who are drenched in popular mass culture often, at the very least, find rich communities of faith more interesting.

From Recovering the Substance of Worship