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Worship Decisions We’ll Regret

Wisdom from Chaplain Mike at InternetMonk:

[David] Manner is the Associate Executive Director for the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists with responsibilities in the areas of Worship, Leadership and Administration. Before that he served in many congregations in worship and music ministry.

I like his list. A lot. I don’t agree with every point, and I don’t feel as strongly about some points as I do others. However, I think he’s captured a great deal of content in a nice, well-stated form that lends itself to discussion.

Here it is:

15 Worship Decisions We’ll Regret

1.     Dividing congregations along age and affinity lines.
2.     Eliminating choral expressions in worship.
3.     Worship leader ageism.
4.     Elevating music above Scripture, Prayer and the Lord’s Supper.
5.     Making worship and music exclusively synonymous.
6.     Trying to recreate worship with each new generation.
7.     Ignoring the Christian Calendar and adopting the Hallmark Calendar.
8.     Worshiping like inspiration stopped with the hymnal.
9.     Worshiping like inspiration started with modern worship songs.
10.   Not providing a venue for creatives to express their art as worship.
11.   Allowing songs about God to supersede the Word of God.
12.   Elevating gathered worship above dispersed worship.
13.   Setting aside traditionalism around the world but not across the aisle.
14.   Worshiping out of Nostalgia or Novelty.
15.   Worship services at the expense of worship service.

Chaplain Mike’s commentary that follows is well worth the read. It’s short, and it’s good.

Early Christian Worship

Larry Hurtado has made available PDFs of two new articles he has written for the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, one on “Worship, NT Christian” and one on “Christology.”  Given his lament about the lack of enthusiasm for the topic of early Christian worship in the realm of NT Studies, perhaps he will be pleased to know that I’ve devoted a class day to the topic in my NT Intro classes for quite some time—and would do more if time permitted!

The Order of Christian Worship

Thanks to Chaplain Mike for laying it out so simply. Even a seminarian could understand it!

As “liturgical” as my current church thinks it is, it still doesn’t often move past the threefold revivalistic pattern Chaplain Mike describes. I would like to think that, as the “Invitation” continues to become abbreviated in our worship, people might start to decide that there really ought to be a good, holistic, Christian way to express our commitment to and participation in the Word of God we have heard read and proclaimed.

I’ll be there when they do. 😉

Worship: Nine Proposals (or Theses?)

Chaplain Mike reviews Robert Webber’s nine proposals about worship renewal some thirty years on.

Leonard: Forgetting to Remember

I deeply appreciated Bill Leonard’s testimony about his mother and her advancing Alzheimer’s Disease.

Each first Sunday, when the deacons bring my mother Holy Communion and read the words of Jesus: “As often as you do this, remember me,” the text and the ritual take on a whole new meaning that churches should confront as they care for those who no longer recall the old, old story. Since Lavelle and multitudes like her live in remembrance of no one, even Jesus, then perhaps the church — the community of memory — can believe for her, with her as she sings, and even cusses a little, all the way to the end. Let’s all try to remember that, as long as we can.

What If It’s True?

This is the best response to Harold Camping’s rapture-mania I’ve seen so far. The ending deserves a standing ovation:

But even if we assume that the 21st is the end, and there’s no need to maintain any savings to fall back on, is spending huge sums of money on billboards the best way to help people prepare? Sure, we’re all motivated by an impending deadline, but the Family Radio signs I’ve seen aren’t invitations to a relationship with Christ so much as they are warnings not to be left behind. They seem to promote repentance based on fear of what might happen to you if you don’t turn to Christ, rather than the loving relationship you’ll gain if you do. Essentially: hedge your bets.

So if not billboards, than what? Perhaps it would have been nice if Camping and his followers had used the money to hold a series of meals across the country, events to which everyone—young or old, rich or poor—was welcome. They could create a place where everyone had a chance to serve and be served, to experience community, to rejoice in the gift of this life and the blessings it offers. And there’d be pie. Lots of pie. I totally would have attended.

But, as it stands, I’m not making any special plans. If the world is still around next Sunday, I’ll maintain my usual routine of riding the 7 train past 5 Pointz and enjoying the view as I head into Manhattan for the 11:30 a.m. Mass. Because, although there is a discouraging lack of lemon meringue at my parish, I’ve found it is a place where everyone is welcome, where I am able to serve and be served, and I’m able to give thanks for the blessings in my life. Even without billboards, I’m reminded every week that Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again. And I also get the chance to look around at my friends and neighbors and to recognize in them the ways in which Christ is already among us.

Well done, Mr. Weber. Well done. (H/T: The Anchoress)

A “Grail of Peace”

This story is too amazing not to share. The first chalice acquired for the first Baptist church in Tbilisi, Georgia, has been discovered almost literally in my back yard: in a closet in the chapel at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. This was, in fact, the chalice from the first Baptist church founded in the Russian Empire in the 1860s. Archbishop Malkhaz of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia has graciously granted permission for me to share with my readers the email I received from him. It is reproduced in full below the break, with links added and some very minor editing. (more…)