To insist on a free-floating session of songs and prayers at the whim of one leader is not to strike a blow against ritualism but is to put that leader precisely in the place where the reformers saw the mediaeval priest; the person who comes between the worshippers and God. Good liturgy preserves us from personality cults whether Catholic or Protestant.
This short quote comes from a lecture on Biblical Worship that Tom Wright gave at Calvin College in 2002. I found it very helpful in thinking through why I so often feel dissatisfied at what we tend to call ‘worship’ in contemporary settings. I have chosen one of the more polemical quotes (found at at about 54 mins); the lecture, as a whole, is balanced and nuanced – and well worth a listen (or a read if you prefer).
From the blurb on the website.
Biblically correct worship—is there such a thing? This presentation discussed the trend from structured liturgical to free-flowing worship and helped determine if this is biblical. Are there biblical guidelines for worship? Is the fashion for rock-group-style worship a pure gift from God or a capitulation to the spirit of the age? Wright led listeners on spiritual journey regarding how to best glorify God and reflect his image in the world through worship.