Worship Wars

I have been thinking a lot about worship services lately.  What is the purpose of worship service?  What are the goals of worship service?  Is the service to God, and secondarily blesses people, or are the people of the community primary?

I believe that the late Robert Webber was correct when he described the role of worship as "the celebration of God's story".  We stop during our week, to reflect on God's story, where He is the central character, His Word is the script, and His people play small but important roles. 

There is a temptation to watch the telling of God's story like we watch TV or a sporting event.  However, the reality is that God gives us instruction through scripture that our worship is to be highly participatory and interactive.  In other words, worship does not "happen" to us, but occurs through us.  Ideally, it is the fully trinitarian experience of revelation from God the father, incarnational experience of the presence of Christ, and the fellowship with one another through His Holy Spirit that makes our gatherings centered on God as the object (what we focus on) and the subject (who we worship for).

As a pastor, I feel so many different tensions from the congregation in designing a worship order.  How long is the service?  How long will children be in the service?  Can the worship experience be understood by non-Christians?  Have we used enough resources from our faith tradition?  All of these things are important to sort out, but none of these things should trump the celebration of God's story in an experiential, highly participatory manner. 

My pastoral challenge for 2011 is to fearlessly celebrate God's incredible story and bring all other concerns into submission to that primary goal.  That is not an either/or statement, but one of alignment.  We will align our service times to allow for reflection of God's story this week.  We will teach our chldren to understand and celebrate God's story using structures and resources that most effective.  We will celebrate God's story using traditional and innovative resources, as we are reaching people who process information significantly differently than we did even a decade ago.

Let us continue to pray for wisdom and allow the Holy Spirit to show us how to celebrate His story faithfully.

May God bless you all,

Pastor M Traylor
Dr. M TraylorComment