The Work of the People
Contemporary worship services, someone has said, can look like a rock concert followed by a stand-up comedian. This is true sometimes, but even when it’s not, it can sometimes look like the real work takes place on stage, while those sitting in rows are the audience. You can say that God is the audience, but sometimes it looks like the audience is sitting in the pews.
One of the benefits of liturgy is that liturgy can work against this dynamic. Liturgy comes from Greek the Greek word λειτουργία. The etymology is a little unclear, but it can mean something like “the work of the people.”
As one article says:
Many congregations have rediscovered that public worship is not a presentation by a select few, but rather an activity and effort of the entire congregation. In those settings where once a minister presided and a choir responded, now all worshippers join to participate in prayer, singing, ministering and speaking. The members of these congregations are affirming that worship is what they do together, not what they have done for them. For these congregations worship is active, not passive. It is the “work of the people.”
In theory, the center of attention is drawn away from the worship leader and toward the content of the liturgy. It matters less that the pastor or worship leader is a charismatic figure, because the focus is not on that person, but on the gospel.
One more note: I have appreciated the times that worship leaders are at the back of the room and not on stage. It’s not wrong to do otherwise, but it does send a powerful statement that they are part of the congregation. They may be leading the congregation, but they are not the center of attention. The corporate worship then remains the work of the people.