Worship PostScript

I blogged a week ago about a blog posting on worship that has been generating some attention.  

There is this follow-up blog posting on the issue, which seeks to clarify some of the confusion that the original letter generated by reminding everyone that worship is theology.  Worship expresses and articulates theology.  Assuming that everyone understands this in the same way is rather naive to be sure, and apparently there was no lack of conflict over the original letter.  
I think I’ll be getting this book and reading it.  It will be interesting to hear what he has to say and how he says it.  And I hope that others will be getting it as well.  Because as congregations continue to struggle with how they worship, they need to ground these discussions in the issue of why they worship, and what worship is.  Failure to do so dooms us to a cycle of assuming that everything is just a matter of personal taste (which is what our culture tells us in all other realms of our life, oddly enough), rather than something we can be trained to appreciate and be shaped from.  We may never grow to like the old hymns, or the new praise tunes – from a purely aesthetic sense – but we can hopefully learn to appreciate what they are attempting to do, and decide whether or not they fit with our theology of worship.  
Hard, dry work.  But oddly invaluable.  Why should we assume that in the area of our lives that we proclaim to be most important and deeply vital, we assume there should be no effort, no thought, no work required of us?  We are constantly called upon to learn on the job, to update our skills and understandings.  Why should the Christian life and worship in particular be any different?  It’s not just a pastor’s job – it’s everyone’s job!  So get busy!

4 Responses to “Worship PostScript”

  1. Doug Vossler Says:

    Good post, Pastor Nelson! You are really finding some interesting and topical items.

    The author is on to something here, although he isn’t using terms common to the way Lutheran’s understand worship. If the author had written from a Lutheran perspective, he would be using the terms “sacramental”, where God speaks to us, and “sacrificial”, where we speak to God, in place of formative and expressive. The challenge for incorporating praise bands into worship is to make sure they offer sacrificial opportunities for the worshiper to participate and speak to God. When praise bands are just entertainment and the worshiper is passive, this may not necessarily be the case.

  2. Paul Nelson Says:

    Welcome, Doug!

    I like the way you rephrase things in  a more Lutheran context.  Coming from another theological culture (some derivative of Calvinism, based on his employment bio) he won’t speak the same way Lutherans do, or necessarily even agree with our sacramental approach to worship.  But I can appreciate his perspective even if I’d prefer him to be Lutheran

    If the main goal of a church is getting as many people as possible into a building for a regular worship service, there is necessarily going to be a sacrifice in terms of the theology of worship.  That sacrifice may happen in the process of planning out the particular worship style of that faith community.  It may have happened long beforehand in the formation of the pastor and key leadership and their experiences.  But I think that at this point in American culture, if the goal is appealing to whomever happens to walk in the door, a congregation is heading down a road that has not served the Church well in the last 50 years.  

    Glad you’re finding this helpful, and I look forward to interacting further as we travel together!

  3. Lois W Says:

    I found both the original blog post and the postscript very interesting. Doug’s comment helped me understand a bit better, since those are terms I’m more familiar with in my “Lutheran-ness.”

    Still, I’d like to see more reference to the scriptural basis for this theology of worship.

    Incidentally, what he says of worship here: “Worship is not only expressive, it is also formative. It is not only how we express our devotion to God, it is also how the Spirit shapes and forms us to bear God’s image to the world.” expresses my “theology of prayer” pretty well. :-)

  4. Paul Nelson Says:

    I think, when we consider it enough, that anything we are called to do by Scripture is something that forms us, reshapes us.  Coincidence?  Hmmm…I think not!

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