The Rise of Neo Liturgy

Worship pastor leading a new song

The latest album and tour from liturgical post-rock artist Gungor has been far from conventional. In a recent interview with Relevant Magazine, group frontman Michael Gungor explained the group’s decision to subdivide their artistic efforts into distinctly different “head spaces,” even performing under different names. They continue to make great art under the banner of Gungor, and lead believers in worship under the name “The Liturgists.” The band views these two functions as distinctly different activities, and so they treat them as such, subdividing their concerts into three movements—two more conventional performance movements, bookending a worship movement filled with music, poetry, and reflection.

“I purposefully didn’t talk much or try to get people to do anything along with us,” Michael recounts on the group’s website, “But somehow in that lack of pressure, we started having these deeply spiritual moments in the room together, and by the end of the night, people might be crying or dancing or maybe just sitting there in silence, but there was something real happening among us.”

Gungor represents the leading edge of what’s happening across all of Christianity. After all but abandoning the traditional church calendar and shunning many of the ritualistic elements associated with Catholicism for hundreds of years, Protestantism is beginning to rediscover the value of liturgy. Trends are always cyclical. The hymns, introduced by Reformers in the 1500s and championed all the way into the modern age as new ornamentation for the rediscovered doctrines of atonement and grace, have now become inaccessible, stuffy, and robotic in some evangelical churches, while others still hold them dear. Reformers of the 1990s discarded them in favor of an approach that was called “seeker sensitive” at the time. We can now see a reemergence of the liturgical tradition.

What is liturgy?

With roots predating the Reformation, liturgy is a collection of prayers and call/response readings intended to “make Christianity understandable to this mythical ‘modern’ man on the street,” says Orthodox theologian Alexander Schmemann in Christianity Today. Not what you were expecting?

Maybe that’s because the liturgy in your experience has fallen out of relevance. Many churches today are introducing a new brand of liturgy by writing their own call/response readings or updating old traditional ones to create a meaningful time of reflection as part of their worship service.

We want to know: Have you used any liturgical elements in your worship service? Do you have plans to in the future? Let us know in comments.

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Written by
Ray Deck III

Born in WV, Ray escaped to North Carolina at a young age. He came to Logos after an 8 year stint at a faith-based nonprofit in New York. When he is not assembling sequences of words, he’s probably running, surfing or shooting skeet, but you should probably go look for him. He has a terrible sense of direction and is probably lost.

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Written by Ray Deck III