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Liturgical and Non-liturgical Forms of Worship

What's the difference?

Liturgy: A set form of public worship or religious rite.

band performing on stageAll Christians worship, showing their love and respect for God through singing, communion and prayer. However, they do so in different kinds of ways, depending upon which denomination they belong to. It's a bit like music; everyone has different tastes, so will choose a different style depending on their preferences. Christians are no different, in fact, sometimes their chosen style of worship helps them decide which church to join.

Generally speaking, different styles of worship falls roughly into two categories: liturgical and non-liturgical. They are very different!

Liturgical Worship

People in White Robe Walking on StreetLiturgical worship patterns are often followed in Anglican and Catholic Churches. Liturgy simply refers to set patterns, words and actions through which public worship is conducted. This form of worship usually takes place on a Sunday and will include prayers and readings.

In the Anglican Church, these are taken from the Book of Common Prayer. Some Anglican liturgy is quite old, over 350 years to be precise! Some churches still use this old version of the liturgy which includes the passage:

"Almighty God, unto whom all our hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy Name, through Christ our Lord. Amen." (From The Book of Common Prayer, 1662).

The Catholic Church celebrates Mass every Sunday, following a set pattern of order. They pray and sing hymns, before listening to the priest's teaching. They will then take Holy Communion, also known as the Eucharist.

Non-liturgical Worship

people inside barNon-liturgical worship is the exact opposite of liturgical worship. It is much less formal, with no set pattern of worship to follow. It is unscripted and can even be improvised in some churches. Denominations that have non-liturgical styles of worship include the Pentecostal, Baptist and Methodist churches.

This form of worship will often feature live worship bands, and open times of prayer when all members of the church can pray out loud about any subject of their choosing or one directed by the leader.

It's important to note that some church denominations follow both forms of worship. They may hold a number of services on a Sunday in order to ensure that all of their congregation (the members of their church) are catered for. Some people in their church may like liturgical and be uncomfortable with non-liturgical, and vice versa.