“The holy art of worship seems to have passed away like the Shekinah glory from the tabernacle. As a result, we are left to our own devices and forced to make up the lack of spontaneous worship by bringing in countless cheap and tawdry activities to hold the attention of the church people.” –A.W. Tozer
One of the major reasons why the church has fallen prey to a cultural accommodation is that it has become disconnected from its roots in Scripture, in the ancient church and in its heritage through the centuries. . . . If it is true that the road to the future lies in the past, it is also true that when the past has been lost or neglected there is no certain future. . . . When the past is lost, as it now is in our Western world, there is nothing left to focus on except the self.
Robert E. Webber, Who Gets to Narrate the World? Contending for the Christian Story in an Age of Rivals. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 16-17.
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Currently there is a growing awareness that worship is the central ministry of the Church: Worship is the center of the hourglass, the key to forming the inner life of the Church. Everything the Church does moves toward public worship, and all its ministries proceed from worship. Good worship creates community, evangelical warmth, hospitality to outsiders, inclusion of cultural diversity, leadership roles for men and women, intergenerational involvement, personal and community formation, healing, reconciliation, and other aspects of pastoral care. Because worship is itself an act of witness, it is the door to church growth, to missions and evangelism, and to issues of social justice. Worship now stands at the center of the Church’s life and mission in the world.
Robert Webber, Planning Blended Worship, Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN, 1998, p. 29.
I have always been amazed at what can happen when we simply plant the good seed of God’s Word in the good soil of broken people. We have an expression in our movement: bad people make good soil – there’s a lot of fertilizer in their lives.
Neil Cole, Organic Church, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, 2005, p. 72.
Faith is the building that depends upon both the foundation of Scripture and the columns of the sacraments. Both are the word of God.
Leanne Van Dyk, A More Profound Alleluia, Eerdman’s, Grand Rapids, MI, 2005, p. 75.
From an interview with Jordon Cooper for TheOoze.com
The pragmatic churches have become institutionalized – with some exceptions. They responded to the sixties and seventies, created a culture-driven church an don’t get that the world has changed again. Pragmatics, being fixed, have little room for those who are shaped by the postmodern revolution. A clash is emerging. The younger evangelicals will not have a voice in the pragmatic, fixed mentality. Stay there and your spirit will die (there are some exceptions, pray for discernment). Many pragmatic churches, like old shopping malls are dying.
Very few people under 30 are in pragmatic churches. The handwriting is on the wall. Leave. Do a start up church. Be a tentmaker. Build communities. Small groups. Neighborhood churches. Be willing to let your life die for Jesus as you break with the market driven, culture shaped, numbers oriented, Wall-Mart-something-for-everyone church. Be an Abraham and take a risk. God will show up and lead the way.
I have no complaint about your sacrifices –
you certainly put the creative effort in to your worship.
But I do not need your art installations, stations, movie loops, ambient tunes, apple macs, ipods
gas masks, photography, font selection, stories, good taste, creative liturgies and new technologies.
All the silicon in the valley is mine
I know all the art in the whole world
The creation is my gallery
I made imagination!
Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God
out of friendship and not obligation
That’s what it’s about…
The [worship team] was young and pretty, dressed in the kind of quality-cotton-punk clothing one buys at the Gap. ‘Lift up your hands, open the door,’ crooned the lead singer, an inoffensive tenor. Male singers at [this] and other megachurches are almost always tenors, their voices clean and indistinguishable, R&B-inflected one moment, New Country the next, with a little bit of early ‘90s grunge at the beginning and the end.
They sound like they’re singing in beer commercials, and perhaps this is not coincidental. The worship style is a kind of musical correlate to (their pastor’s) free market theology: designed for total accessibility, with the illusion of choice between strikingly similar brands. (He prefers the term flavors, and often uses Baskin-Robbins as a metaphor when explaining his views.) The drummers all stick to soft cymbals and beats anyone can handle; the guitarists deploy effects like artillery but condense them, so the highs and lows never stretch too wide. Lyrics tend to be rhythmic and pronunciation perfect, the better to sing along with when the words are projected onto movie screens. Breathy or wailing, vocalists drench their lines with emotion, but only within strict confines. There are no sad songs in a megachurch, and there are no angry songs. There are songs about desperation, but none about despair; songs convey longing only if it has already been fulfilled.
Baptism is a mark of our new identity, based not on the power of tribe or family, education or status, race or gender, but on the power of God’s promises. This is the gift of an identity that bears the marks of God’s saving power. Infant baptism especially conveys this – emphasizing that before we have the power to do anything, God’s power is for us. Similarly, in adult baptism we enter into the death and resurrection of the One who alone has power to triumph over sin and death. God’s power, evident in baptism, is the power both to promise and to be faithful, to create and re-create, to name and rename, to die and to rise.
The Dangerous Act of Worship p. 120