Critical Questions Concerning Ritual Use: How to Make the Most Out of Formal Religious Ceremony


This download is a single-page lesson plan.

How to make the most out of formal religious ceremony



Ritual is a human universal, present in every culture, drawing its authority from tradition, history, and provenance. Its function is to enhance the victory of hope over fear.

All true rituals are highly choreographed, formalized, and precisely-executed behaviors that mark threshold moments in people’s lives. They are characterized by rigidity and must be performed the same way (the right way!) every time. This fidelity is crucial.

Rituals bind us together to community formation. When we act like others, we perceive ourselves as being more similar to them, and as a result, we like them more. This is why dancing, music, chanting, and moving in tandem are such common parts of collective rituals. Rather than merely demonstrating commitment, costly rituals are effective in building commitment—and thereby creating meaning—which is why some groups thrive not despite their strictness, but because of it.

Though rituals tend to be maligned in evangelicalism, the truth is that our liturgies and societies are replete with rites of passage, sacraments, and cultural norms. By learning how best to lead these rituals we can help people more deeply experience God.

This curriculum will help you understand the critical components of pastoring people through healthy ritual observance; and learn to approach each ritual with fresh perspective and insight, imbuing the form with Spirit.


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