In recent years their has been a movement of former evangelicals, college students, and the unchurched into the more liturgical churches. I have no statistics for this, just what I've seen and heard through the circles that I frequent. I wonder why this is? Are they searching for something that modern American evangelicals are not offering on the whole? Are they dechurched returning to the faith of their your after a long absence? What's the deal?
Again, no answers from a well-respected theologian or church growth expert here (and just by the way, I am not saying that these higher-church, liturgical denominations are growing in leaps and bounds), but as I continue my thoughts about the early church, remember what Acts 2:42 says: "And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." The third of these mentions the observation of the Lord's Supper.
As I mentioned before in a previous post, "the breaking of bread" is probably closely related to the close fellowship they shared and a communal meal, but also I think that it is distinct too, hence the separate mention in the text
It seems that it was a regular practice. They "devoted themselves" to it, so it must have been important. From the writings of the rest of the New Testament, it seemed to be a sacred and serious thing to remember the death of Christ together with the cup and the bread. I think this could be a clue to the trend I mentioned before. These other denominations tend to hold their communion service with a little higher reverence. There is a little more of sense mystical connection combined with a long tradition of thoughtful liturgy. This could be attractive. In fact the few that I have met, cite this as a contributing factor. Often our Communion service is "tacked on" to the real service, or added in with minimal thought. Many of our congregants take it lightly because of that casual attitude that we present it.
Communion is primarily in focus, but what about other expressions of worship. The liturgical denominations have different ways to worship. Worship between the fellowship of believers binds us together in a special way. Whether it is through communion or a hymn or a praise song or an offering or the teaching, worship binds local assemblies, conferences, and global Christianity.
Now, don't take this as an endorsement of false teaching or incorrect theology. Nor as a condoning of unbiblical practices that may accompany some of these denominations. Doctrine and practice are of the utmost importance. I am just thinking through the early church and how they functioned in the days just after Pentecost.
For something that seemed so important for Luke to include in the four things that the early church shepherded and discipled the first 3000 converts with, maybe we should think about the way approach it some more. Less about crowds and production and getting the ordination in good order, but in the connection with Christ Himself.