The comments to my last post on worship were really what I was going to address in this one so I’ll address them one-by-one. The comments are bolded and my commentary is regular text.
Lone Aggie writes:
Due to people being people you can never make everyone happy, but that is also how people grow… usually being exposed to new ideas. Our church has transitioned to a fairly non-traditional worship, and we have an alternative worship for young couples on another night.
I know that you can never make everyone happy but… you also have to do what the majority asks for. In this case, the majority is pretty happy with the status quo. They had a contemporary worship service years ago but it wasn’t successful.
I would vote for an alternative service on a different night… if we had the resources (i.e. another pastor) to do it. Bill is already running in about 50 directions during the week. The other problem is that this creates cliques within the church and that’s not healthy for growth.
Worship is one of the most criticized parts of any church, and that’s something I’ve never really understood. People will tolerate horrible preaching, but get upset if the right hyms aren’t sung.
The reason it is so criticized is that it is usually the one interaction people have with the church. The church might have Bible studies, but those are not usually as well attended as the Sunday church service. A church’s worship is also its means of evangelism, which means that it’s a pretty important thing in the life of said church. Good worship combines preaching, music, and prayer and there should be a balance. My church sings much of its liturgy and badly sung liturgy can really destroy the balance as well.
I think the reason people tolerate such horrible preaching at times (and believe me, there have been times when I have been tempted to get up and leave because the preaching has been so horrific — and this was the former dean of the chapel at my seminary) is because preaching might be instructional, but music moves our spirits on a level that preaching doesn’t. Music works on two levels: the words which can be a form of edification and the actual music which appeals to our aesthetic sensibilities. If one is off, it ruins whatever effect the other might have.
Your points as pros and cons are usually true of *both* styles of service. I hate the label “contemporary” when it’s usually just an uptempo version of “traditional”. What’s needed is depth and meaning in worship, a re-training for all of us. These labels get us into a consumerist I-want-it-my-way thing that detracts from the real purpose of the thing – honor and praise to God.
The “I-want-it-my-way” attitude really irritates me because church should not be like a rock concert — you are not going there to be entertained. You are there to worship God. This is why I hate the whole mega-church movement: in their desire to up their membership, they’ve missed the point of church. I understand the need for people to gather outside of church for fellowship but adding a McDonalds and a gym is not appropriate.
One of the reasons I am such a liturgy fiend is that liturgical worship is sensual worship:
hearing: Listening to Scripture, prayers, sermon, song, organ/piano, and bells
seeing: Stained-glass windows, vestments, banners, other art around the sanctuary
touch: Kneeling, standing, sitting, genuflecting, walking, bowing
taste: Bread and wine/grape juice
smell: (in some churches) incense
(list borrowed from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Prayer by Mark Galli and James Bell Jr.)
The fact that it is sensual (in that it appeals to 4 our ot 5 of my senses as I am *VERY* allergic to incense) actually helps me focus and experiencing all of these things actually puts my mind on God. Singing the liturgy is something I love doing and something I miss about not getting to go to Morning Prayer daily. Worship isn’t about what you get — it’s about giving to God.
OK… I have one of my tiger cubs (the bengal one) rebuking me and telling me to go to bed (it’s only 10:45 pm!) and the other one (the siberian one) chewing on my hand. Methinks it is time to get off and give them some attention. Part III will be up within 48 hours and will probably focus on how I acquired my preferences. Comments are *always* welcome.