Gungor sees the fall coming from the focus of the church being based too much on the pastor’s personality. He started dabbling with shifting to focus to the table, doing communion every week, then later started doing Lord’s prayer every week, then confession, then benediction, eventually becoming an entirely liturgical church. He is now pastor of a parish of 11 small churches in New York City.
“We find ourselves de-storied, infected with individualism, consumerism, nationalism,” Gungor said. “Our Christian liturgy describes who we are and how we fit into the cosmos. Liturgy orders the telling of God’s story by the people of God.”
To Gungor, a key part of God’s story is the Trinity, and that’s where the focus should be. He’s disappointed that only a tiny percentage of popular contemporary Christian music makes any mention of the trinity at all.
“Are our liturgies Trinitarian? Are you receiving the story of the triune God?” Gungor asked.
Gungor finds it important to keep the sacraments in each service.
“When you remove the sacraments, you make other things sacramental,” he said. “When you make the sermon sacramental, people only receive Jesus through your words. If I’m coming on Sunday morning and there is no communion, what if we disagree? Without communion, someone leaves with nothing. The service of the sacrament of communion is shut up and eat.”
Gungor encouraged people to tell the story of God in rich beauty that inspires the imagination. His worship services are 65 minutes long, his sermon is 25 minutes.
“I’m not scared of having full liturgy because it is engaging,” he said.
In a recent service, he put up pictures of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump when they were young children.
“We were encouraging people to have compassion where they had previously had only disdain,” he said. “We’re inviting people to be priests in this world. We are artists and we are craftsmen. We are poets and we are priests.”
Gungor closed by encouraging those listening to stay inspired, stay hungry, stay challenged, and to function as a community and get others involved in doing the work of preparing meaningful worship.