600 years ago a church service looked far different than it does today.
The Medieval mass truly was a performance. The priest was turned away from the congregation for most of the congregation and spoke (by some reports mumbled is a more appropriate description) the service in Latin, a language the commoners didn’t speak and often the priests themselves didn’t speak.[i] The congregants observed the mass in silence. There was no participation.
600 years later much has changed. And yet much remains the same.
In the American evangelical church, our liturgy looks about as different from the liturgy of the church of the Middle Ages as you could imagine (and yes, while we don’t have a formalized liturgy, we share a collective informal liturgy – you can go to just about any evangelical church in America this weekend and expect a similar service). But church, as much as ever, is an experience those who attend come to watch. And like the church in the Middle Ages, we also are struggling with attendance, with a faithful church goer now coming to service a mere twice a month.[ii]