Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Last Saturday we had our annual meeting as a church. I rather enjoyed the meeting. Though I did find it interesting that there was not a lot of discussion...except for on worship. When the topic of worship got mentioned then there was lots and lots of discussion. Actually most of the discussion was not about worship in general but about music. People are very passionate about music. This has been an on going discussion in our church for a long time (and one I do not think is going to go away over night). But there have been some people who have been expressing a desire for sometime to make a significant shift in our music on Sunday. Since this has been talked about for so long our chairman decided that we should have a meeting in which we will discuss this issue. In light of this up coming meeting (not sure when) we thought it would be good to give the people in the church the resources they need to study the issue of worship. Also we are hoping that we can get people to discuss this issue before the meeting.

So... I have decided to post an article on worship. I am also encouraging you to share your thoughts - on worship in general and on the article in particular. Please note that even if you are not a part of the church I would love to hear what you have to say.

I am just posting a portion of the article (click to read the rest). This is from Freedom and Framework, Spirit and Truth: Recovering Biblical Worship, by NT Wright

My third urgent point concerns the relationship between worship and culture. The great Christ-and-culture debates of the last century have taught us that we cannot simply go with the flow of a particular culture on the one hand, nor yet simply renounce our own culture as being opposed to the gospel.[20] Each aspect of culture must be assessed on its own merits. This, too, is a subject for another time.[21] As C. S. Lewis never tired of saying, there is nothing in God’s world which cannot be redeemed; but there is nothing which can simply be embraced as it stands. Everything must be brought to the bar of the gospel, of the cross and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.

It is not, then, simply a matter of working out how, in worship, to bring together the traditional with the contemporary. That is important, but it is equally important to ensure that the tradition is celebrated through the lens of the gospel, not uncritically, and that the contemporary is adopted likewise through the lens of the gospel, not just because it is new. What T. S. Eliot called the “easy commerce of the old and the new” is not, as the poem makes clear, achieved easily or without struggle; but it is there if we will work and pray at it.[22] It is not a matter of slavishly adopting a particular culture, whether that of sixteenth-century Europe or of twenty-first-century America; nor, equally, is it a matter of slavishly renouncing the one or the other. (In England this sometimes acquires the dark overtones of class snobbery, both regular and inverted: some people would not want to be caught attending a worship service led with guitars and drums for precisely the same reason that they would not want to be found watching a soap opera, and other people would avoid cathedral-style worship for the same reasons that they would avoid black-tie dinners. This cultural prejudice, which can easily disguise itself with plausible theological language, must be smoked out and repented of.)

Nor is it a matter of working out “what this congregation will be comfortable with.” Who says you ought always to be comfortable in the presence of Almighty God? But nor should one simply ask “what does this congregation need to wake them up?”; who says it is your place to shock and startle the people of God? There will be shocks, of course, and there also will be the deep comfort of the familiar. Good liturgy, planned carefully week by week and year by year, will bring the two together so that they complement and reinforce each other and, most importantly, build up the worshipers in the knowledge and love of God and send them out refreshed for their kingdom-tasks in the world. And if we know what we are about this should mean that in our worship, in its music and readings, in its drama and movement, in its silence as well as its speech, we are not only reflecting different cultures but contributing creatively and in the power of the Spirit to the culture which our God is bringing about in our own day.


Anonymous said...

For me the frustration is most likly the conflict that arises in the church due to worship. I wonder how long it will take people to realize (and act upon)that worship is simply not about them. It is about God. We need to step up and be reminded that God comes first and secondly it's not our preferance, but the preferance of others in the church. Christians are supposed to be known for their love. What does it look like to others when they see us bicker about the 'type of worship' we want. How can people worship when they are bitter against their brothers and sisters? How is that even worship?

Anonymous said...

I would have to say that the music in our church has not been much of an issue for me. I do strongly believe though that we should be careful of what is presented in song and spoken word. I think jokes, stories , talk about movies , and talk about books read have a place for discussion while visiting or in discussion forums etc but in church we need to keep our focus on what the Bible says. We need to depend on the Holy Spirit to speak to us through His word and discuss and explain Bible passages more.

Ben said...

Thanks for your comments. I totally agree that our worship services need to be focused on God and using the bible. I certainly believe that we have been encouraging this focus in services. Though each person can choose to be God focused or focused on something else.

Anonymous said...

I'm way late on this comment, but I can totally relate to the issue. The church I go to has had the ongoing "music" debate for decades. But that's not why I'm commenting. Here's a comment I put in my blog just this morning about worship:

"Allison and I got some time kid-free this last weekend, and decided to try going on a date again. We took Saturday night and went out to Abbotsford for dinner and a concert. It was a Brian Doersken concert - a great worship music leader and artist.

It was a great concert, musically speaking. The sound was great, our seats were great (aside from the guy sitting in front of us how received/made at least 8 calls during the concert). The only problem was that I wasn't feeling very connected. I had expected to be drawn into a meaningful time of worship - yet I felt like I was sitting in an island amongst a sea of hundreds of passionate worshippers. I thought about this through the first half of the concert, and came to a realization. Worship is not something that someone else can pull you into. It's something that you have to do for yourself. It must come from an act of the will within you. Worship is a part of a personal relationship, and in a personal relationship, there is no room for passengers."

I don't know if this will help anyone think about worship in a different light.

- Cam