After giving a worship workshop this past weekend in New Jersey, and lecturing the week before that on liturgical ordo, I have been thinking some about the ways in which structure the elements in our worship services -- why we put in the elements we do, and why we order them in a particular way.
This led me to remember an article I wrote last year while at Fuller seminary, about experimenting with the worship ordo of our All-Seminary Chapel services.
We were struggling with three related problems: liturgical boredom, thematic coherence, and sacramental expectation. To summarize, our default liturgical structure was on the simplistic side: 20 minutes of singing (led by a group from the right hand side), followed by a sermon (preached by a professor from the left hand side). In addition, it was hard to give that "singing time" any focus because we often didn't learn what the professor/preacher was going to talk about in enough time to do anything about it. Finally, both the singing and sermon time became freighted with sacramental expectations that neither could regularly meet.
Our experimental solution was to borrow a simple worship pattern from the rites of daily prayer. Those rites were developed long ago as the devotional times used by monks and academics in the precursors to our universities and seminaries. We divided up our time together into four categories, mnemonically remembered as "Praise / Psalm /Proclamation / Prayer." We found this pattern most helpful for a number of reasons...
But exactly how it did that is a bit too much for this family blog. Instead, check out WorshipHelps, where I've re-posted the whole thing.