Monday, February 25, 2008

more thoughts on our worship together . . .

Wait till I tell you about my crumby weekend, but for now I'm trying to turn my thoughts to higher and more excellent things. . .

Pastor Al pointed me toward this thought-provoking CT interview with Keith and Kristyn Getty, the authors of In Christ Alone and other modern hymns. The whole article is worth the read, but here were a couple of paragraphs that jumped out at me. . .

The radical thing is that in the Old Testament, everybody came together and sang. And in the New Testament, the Jew and the Gentile, the Greek and the Roman, the young and the old all came together and sang together. That's the witness of church history. It's not some kind of food court where everyone chooses their favorite music and goes that direction.

I agree with this. . . that when we chop up our worship and give everybody exactly what they want in consumeristic "worship venues", much is lost. We're trying to do it different at Grace. I've said if often, "Learning to worship together is learning to live the Gospel together." (Philippians 2). In our consumeristic day, its not necessarily the quickest way to grow the biggest church, but it will continue to be our way.


Paul told persecuted churches to get together and teach and admonish one another and sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. There's no intellectual reason to do that; there's no church- growth reason to do that. It's a command, because that is the radical thing.


Worship is a radical thing! I'm convinced we come at it wrongly so much of the time, wanting what we want, thinking about what's in it for me instead of what's in it for God, we think too much about the people up front instead of our own hidden person inside and the Person above and all around, the Real Audience of One.

When we gather, do you ever have that sense of awe that this is an incredibly diverse group who are worshiping together? Its a beautiful thing. Its a challenging thing. No one gets everything they want. Every week, some walk out upset and others dissatisfied because worship didn't look and feel like they think it should. Regularly people come to me and express their dissatisfaction with our worship. But hopefully God is glorified and honored by our attempts at unity and Gospel living.

I am weekly aware that what we are trying to do is counter-cultural and swimming up stream. I often ask what our worship at Grace will look like 10 years from now. I'm not sure I know, but I know it will look different, because our congregation will look different in 10 years.

BTW, do you like the "Thoughts on our Worship Together. . . " section of our worship folder. Do you read it? Did you even know it was there?

And while you're at it, if you have any thoughts on the "Pastor Tim's questions for Young People" stuff I included last Sunday, let me have them.

8 comments:

Tim Weaver said...

Sorry about the rough weekend.

Totally behind you in the worship together thing. My only music request is that that it lyrically honor the Lord and I be able to hear the singers over the drums. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE concerts where the sound of the base drum go es right through you like the Metallica shows I used to go to, but at worship, the words are the most important thing to me.

Maybe I'm too self-centered (that probably is the case), but I rarely think about our diversity. I'm usually thinking that we are gathering as one to exalt our Savior and hear what He has for us.

I always read the quote that you have in the worship folder. It almost always steers my thoughts to the Lord and the purpose that I am sitting in a pew that morning. Sometimes my reaction is "Yes, that is exactly it." Sometimes it is, "boy, did I need to read that". Please keep them in there.

Jacquelyn said...

I love how our worship service combines hymn and chorus. My only request would be that possibly the songs selected could be available on the church website ahead of time. We are trying to teach Zak the songs so that he can worship with us but the task is daunting! We have just started bringing the worship folder home with us so we can talk about the songs, how they fit with the message and then sing them together as a family, we'll see how it goes ...

matt.eileen said...

My family found the sermon notes page for the kids very helpful and giving them a way to track along with your sermon. Thanks.

Tim Blair said...

I've been "leading" worship at Grace and other churches for nearly 30 years now and there is one thing I've found to be true no matter what the medium of music or instruments used: Worship doesn't happen unless the people bring it with them and if they bring it, nothing can get it the way of it.

Tim

Cindy F said...

Meant to email you yesterday to thank you for the kids' page. My son commented later that he really liked the new page; he was actively listening. I know that means extra preparation for you, but what a great tool for training young ears and minds to really hear and internalize the Word. We would love to see it become a regular thing.

Pastor Tim Theule said...

Thanks for the input, y'all. Nice to see a few new folks coming out of the shadows and engaging with some comments. I think it encourages others to do the same. Keep 'em comin' . . .

Pastor Tim

Rob Gunn said...

As you mentioned Tim, this is an issue everywhere. Our church here in Logan, UT has debated this many times. We have followed the same path as Grace, doing a mix of hymns and contemporary.But we have been told by church consultants that no one does this-we ought to have a "traditional service" and a "contemporary" one. Also, many of the worship leaders don't like the mix, and play even the hymns with a Jimi Hendrix rock'nroll style that often leaves you wanting earplugs. Sadly, I see many of the older people leave the sanctuary when they play. The musicians are convinced we will lose the young people if we don't blow their ears out. But they are wrong-I have heard many college students say they love some of the old hymns-far deeper in their message, what they grew up with, etc. Kudos to you and Al for keeping a good balance.

Rob Gunn

Anonymous said...

I am so thankful for the way the leadership at Grace has tried to create unity and togetherness. Last year I attended a Christmas Eve service at a church my parents had been attending. The music was so loud I couldn't bear it & had to go out to sit in the lobby. In the lobby were two couches and a television. I guessed that their lobby was intended for the purpose I was using it. Not more than a few minutes went by before I was joined by about five others. I felt sad that a church would intentionally create discomfort for some. What was even worse was that their Christmas Eve service didn't have anything to do with Jesus/God for the first half. We didn't stay for the second half.