The Modern Context of Christian Worship
The same two issues that have consistently dogged the worship of Christians throughout the history of the Christian Church continue to trouble the Church today: content and uniformity. The first issue deals with the question: When Christians worship, what do they do? The second: To what extent can the content of Christian worship vary from congregation to congregation?
 Christian Freedom Sacrificed in Love
In his letter to the Livonia Christians, Martin Luther clearly asserted the right of every Christian congregation, in Christian freedom, to worship as they choose. But, in view of other Christian congregations, that freedom is sacrificed in love. Out of love, congregations in geographical proximity to each other agree to worship in the same way, with the same content, and even the same form, so that 1) doubt does not arrise in one congregation, that another congregation close by believes and teaches and confesses something different, and 2) that false teaching is not unwittingly introduced into a congregation by means of a different worship form.In other words, humbly observing commonly agreed-upon orders of Phil. 2:2-8), he is duty-bound to serve his neighbor in selfless love according to the Ten Commandments -- as in his daily callings in life, so also in his calling as a member of a Christian congregation on Sunday mornings.
From the 16th century on then, regional Lutheran churches adopted common forms of worship to be used within all congregations within their communion. Although that adoption process varied from region to region, the idea was accepted by all: Out of Christian love for each other, congregations who believed, taught, and confessed the same teachings, especially those close by each other, voluntarily used the same order of worship.
This same concept was eventually adopted in the United States by the Lutheran congregations which formed into various synods. In order to promote peace and fellowship between its individual congregations, and to assure the teaching of jointly held doctrines, each synod adopted a common form of worship to be used in all of its congregations.
"Form of worship" in this context meant not only a specific liturgical order, but the hymns all would learn and use not only at church but at home. In essence then, member congregations of a synod agreed to practice not only the same form of worship, but the same form of daily piety.
 Is Evangelism More Important Than Unity?
Nowadays, unfortunately, this idea, the idea that congregations of a synod in the same proximity voluntarily sacrifice their Christian freedom by humbly adopting a common order of worship to promote and preserve peace and unity in the faith, is quickly waning. It has been replaced, seemingly, by a the idea that reaching the lost for Christ is simply more important than fostering peace and fellowship with other Christian congregations. This view becomes especially destructive when coupled with the notion that the lost can be reached successfully only, if they are not joined to existing congregations, if, in other words, they are not "turned off" by requiring of them the Christian sacrifice of humility and love also when it comes to matters of worship and hymnody. As a result, worship from congregation to congregation -- even within the same synod, in the same city, county, state or region -- is becoming more and more diverse.
Not surprisingly in an age of unprecedented mobility, this lack of uniformity in worship has occasioned disharmony in and between various congregations and the breaking off of fellowship between various groups and congregations -- not officially, but practically. The bonds of Christian love between them have become strained to the point of breaking. As Luther predicted and experienced at his time, suspicions are raised as to whether congregations that worship differently and independently also believe differently and independently -- in other words, whether the unity in the faith, the core reason for various congregations bonding together with others, still exists.
 Is the Answer "The Liturgy"?
Attempts have been made, of course, to change this course of events. The one most notable of late, perhaps, is that which seeks to use Canterbury, Rome or Constantinople as a model, and insist that the worship of the Church has not so much to do with Christian freedom and service in love, but with a specific ancient form which must be adopted and followed by all. Here then Christian freedom in the Gospel is sacrificed not to a shift in congregational emphasis, perhaps even congregational individualism and hubris, but to an historical ideal, which history itself cannot confirm.
That is not to say that Luther and early Lutherans did not appreciate historical continuity in worship. His liturgical reforms clearly were conservative, only eliminating what clearly contradicted the doctrine of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone. The reason why they were conservative, though, was not because of his quest for some ideal liturgy that must have existed somewhere between the 4th and 14th centuries. Instead, they were conservative, at first even timid, because of Luther's pastoral concern for the weak in the faith. In other words, Luther did not opt for radical or frequent change in worship -- he sharply criticized those who did -- because even changing corrupt orders of worship has to be done in love and humility, preceded by clearly teaching Christian freedom and love.
That is also not to say that Christian piety cannot or should not be formed in some way. It certainly can and should. But does that mean that the Christian life is a liturgical life? If it is, how is that "liturgy" established? By historical precedent or through the freedom brought about by the Gospel and the service of love?
It should also be noted that a Christian congregation should always reach out to those who do not know Christ. But at what price to peace and fellowship with other Christian congregations? At what price to Christian doctrine and practice?
This would seem to be the context of the assertions, comments and statements made here.