Offsite Review: Introduction to Christian Liturgy by Frank Senn

Introduction to Christian Liturgy by Frank C. SennBy background I am Baptist.  I grew up American Baptist, I worked for a while for a Southern Baptist Association of churches.  But I have moved a bit away from my Baptist roots.  I am more sacramental in my theology these days.  I am less concerned with the method and timing of baptism.  And I am much less interested in the autonomy of the local church.  So it may be odd that I attend a mega-church that never does the eucharist as part of their Sunday morning service, that does not participate in the church year or use the Lectionary for scripture.

Theologically I am more oriented toward a more liturgical church system. But culturally my worship background is low church and my theology of church is oriented toward outreach and evangelism.  So I participate in a church that is organized around having low barriers to entry for those that have left the church or have never been a part of the church.  I do not think everyone should be in churches like mine.  I am thankful that many people are not.

But I do think that many people are resistant to more liturgical churches out of ignorance instead of real theology.

James at Thoughts, Prayers and Songs blog has a review of Introduction to Christian Liturgy by Frank Senn that sounds like it would be helpful for people like me that have grown up in the non-denominational Evangelical world.  In order to appriciate the gift that the liturgical world gives to the rest of the church, we have to actually understand the how and why of Liturgical church worship.  And we need to realize that even in low church world we have our own liturgical styles.  Here is the opening of James’ review:

Why do we Worship? What is Liturgy? What are the main periods  of liturgical history? What characterizes  liturgy in each of these periods?  What does it mean to sanctify time?  How is liturgical space arranged? How is the body used in worship? How are children formed in Christian worship?

These are just some of the questions which Frank Senn answers in Introduction to Christian Liturgy. In this book he describes, catalogues and commends a thoughtful appropriation of liturgical practices in worship.  This is a solid introduction  to liturgy and covers topics like:  what liturgy is, history and culture (and how liturgy inculturates), the order of service, the liturgy of hours, the church calender and the history and meaning of various seasons,  life passages, liturgical arts, and how congregants participate in worship.  While Senn himself is a Lutheran pastor and liturgist, his approach is ecumenical. He is able to synthesize the insights of liturgists and scholars from various traditions (i.e. Schmemann, Wainwright, Lathrop, White, Bradshaw, etc.) and he surveys liturgical traditions from the Orthodox to the Vineyard movement.

continue reading the rest of the review

One Comment

Hey Adam, I knew I liked you for some reason 🙂 I have been moving in this direction for some time. Our area is heavily Orthodox and Catholic but all I know is low church baptist and Moody Church which is essentially a Mega church. This is what lead me to the Brethren in Christ, which is a blend of Wesleyan and Mennonite traditions. There is a respect there for the Anglican traditions, church calendar etc. but what is most important is an authentic experience and love for Christ and his church. I think the point of liturgy (and denominations for that matter) is to keep us from straying too far from unity. We are all called to mission but we are not all to serve in isolation and contemplation. The goal should be to create and foster community, worship and growth in the way of the Master. Anyway, I plan to check out this book!

Thanks so much, hope we can meet face to face in the near future.

Your friend, Jeff

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