Here's the interesting thing. In all this diversity, I could not begin to tell you which liturgical practices are 'right' and which are 'wrong.' Because there's no such thing. Most seem to work in their contextual setting, fitting the congregation that gathers in its own way.
When Tom Harty and I began as co-pastors in Randolph Center, we added the Passing of the Peace to our weekly liturgy. In the beginning, the congregation participated stiffly, almost grudgingly, rarely moving from their pews. In time it gained wider acceptance, but the change came gradually, nearly imperceptibly. The time for Passing the Peace grew longer and longer, people travelling further and further from their pews, until one day I realized that everyone made contact with everyone else, and the interaction went well beyond "Peace be with you."
One mid-winter after church, as I was grumbling about the Passing of the Peace, an elderly widow took me aside and gently said to me, "Jim, sometimes morning is the only time I get out of my house all week. This is the one place where I get some human touch."
Now, I would have told you that I suspected that my carefully crafted liturgy or inspiring and challenging sermon was the part of worship that was most valued. But, at least for one woman, it was fellowship, community, and the sharing of appropriate physical contact.
And, perhaps, two harder questions. Are the things important to you also the things that might be important to visitors and seekers? Is your worship designed for your insiders, or those you haven't met yet?
Stay tuned - we'll soon be announcing information about Recalculating the Way II coming in March. Rev Mike Piazza will be the keynote, and we will explore worship as our topic.