11 Reasons to Make Space for Different Worship Cultures (a rif on 11 Reasons to Stop Offering Different “Worship Styles”)

First a bit of clarity.

I read 11 Reasons to Stop Offering Different “Worship Styles” from the perspective of a long-time contemporary worship musician, lover of traditional hymns, and theologically trained ponderer. Much of what the author says needs to be heard (and I fully recommend that you read the article for yourself and ponder its messages). Of particular importance are his observations about the dividing of the Church and the focus on evangelism in some worship gatherings. On the other hand, I think it the article is America-centric and lacks a macro-view of the doctrine of the church. What follows are my off the top of my head ecclesio-morphs of Jonathan‘s eleven points. I’ve also commented on the original post.

 

I am not advocating what some call “blended worship.” I find it to be a hodgepodge that annoys many and pleases few. What I am advocating is that the expression of communal worship in any particular congregation ought to be shaped by the actual culture(s) of that congregation. Leaders in the congregation are responsible for making space for that expression and keeping the expression centered on Jesus, not for deciding what expression is allowed or best.

 

  • Making space creates space for heart expression. Art is very cultural and, while we can appreciate art outside our culture, we best express our hearts with art from our culture. Making space for different worship styles encourages heart expression.
  • Making space connects people by culture rather than age. While some worship styles have a predominance of one age group or another, none is purely so. Making space for different worship styles encourages community across age ranges. It also encourages each generation of believers to look ahead to what is coming rather than merely behind to the way things have always been.
  • Making space communicates the every growing community that is the body of Christ. The body of Christ is not trapped in any one culture, but moves across time and geography (and therefore cultures). Making space for different worship styles encourages people to appreciate and experience the growing edge. It also encourages new generations of believers to express traditional hymns according to their own culture.
  • Making space encourages each community and member to express their worship of God according to their own cultures, rather than assuming that any particular cultural expression is the most appropriate. It also makes space for newcomers to join the community and be themselves rather than conforming to what is expected.
  • Making space helps believers to understand the multi-faceted glory of God, while remaining steadfast in truth. It encourages believers to ponder their beliefs from different perspectives and to hear the other respectfully.
  • Making space opens worship to varying expressions rather than restricting it to music. Each person’s and community’s offering can be presented and respected. Making space invites all believers to worship God as persons in community.
  • Making space creates a structure upon which artistic expression, declaration, preaching, participating, and learning might be offered. It supports the every member ministry taught by Ephesians 4.
  • Making space enables persons in community to be who they are in community, while centered on Christ. It encourages believers to offer variegated expression of the worship in the gathering.
  • Making space creates an other-centered atmosphere. It makes space for sundry cultural expressions, all centered on Jesus Christ, for the benefit of the body of Christ.
  • Making space encourages believers to remember that Christ’s body goes beyond culture, nation, race, or language. It breaks down barriers and reorients self- and culture-centeredness.
  • Making space reminds believers that the worship gathering is about each person and church expressing worship and praise to Jesus, in the context of community and for the growth of the body of Christ. It reminds believers that God is the center and recipient of worship and that we bring ourselves, just as we are, to his throne with the expectation that he alone can transform us into the image of his Son.

ecclesio-morphs, a term I just created, basically means rethinking the argument/thoughts of another from my ecclesiological perspective.

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Why faith is required for scholarship

It is impossible to gain a proper understanding of reality apart from knowing that God is the ultimate context of reality. If one does not trust that God is Creator, Redeemer, and Lord of all, then one is taking reality out of context. Context is necessary for proper understanding.

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A Liturgy on Aseity

This is a liturgy I wrote for our staff devotional, designed so that each reader line was read by a different person. I think such readings are best when more voices are heard.

Reader: God does not need our trust, as if his faithfulness, strength, or power depended on it.

All: Our God is God.

Reader: God does not need our thanks, as if his graciousness depended on it.

All: Our God is God.

Reader: God does not need our prayer, as if his goodness and provision depended on it.

All: Our God is God.

Reader: God does not need our confessions, as if his mercy depended on it.

All: Our God is God.

Reader: God does not need our worship, as if his majesty depended on it.

All: Our God is God.

Reader: God does not need our love, as if his presence with us and in us depended on it.

All: Our God is God.

Reader: God does not need our obedience, as if his sovereignty depended on it.

All: Our God is God.

Reader: God does not need us at all, for he is faithful, strong, powerful, gracious, good, providing, merciful, majestic, present, and sovereign in himself.

Reader: “When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God… Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:4-6, 13-14 ESV

Reader: “God’s aseity means that he is Being; everything else merely has being. God is Pure Actuality; all other things have both actuality and potentiality. Thus, God cannot not exist. All creatures can be nonexistent. That is, they have the potentiality for nonexistence. Only God is a Necessary Being. All other beings are contingent.” [Geisler, N. L. (1999). “Aseity.” In Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.]

Reader: God does not need us, but he does desire us. He desires our trust, thanks, prayer, confession, worship, love, and obedience. He desires us without strings.

All: Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:1-2 ESV
 

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