Thursday, July 19, 2007

Worship problems

Recently there have been a few issues for discussion at our church about worship (through music). Some of the discussions have not been easy. I decided to begin reading through Worship by the Book. I bought this book a few years ago and never started reading it until now. This morning I read chapter 4 - "Reformed Worship in the Global City" by Timothy Keller. It was extremely helpful in many areas and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has thought through the purpose of worship (through music). Keller moves through historical traditions of worship as well as contemporary practices. He provides a few outlines of the services at Redeemer Presbyterian Church and gives rationale for each element in the service.

Although this has not really been part of the discussion at Trinity Church I found Keller's section on contemporary and historic worship insightful. In this section he lists the problems in strictly promoting one or the other.

Problems in promoting strictly contemporary worship:
First, some popular music does have severe limitations for corporate worship.
Second, when we ignore historic tradition, we break our solidarity with Christians of the past. Part of the richness of our identity as Christians is that we are saved into a historic people.
Finally, any corporate worship that is strictly contemporary will become dated very quickly. When [someone] says we should "plug in" to contemporary culture, which contemporary culture does he mean? White, black, Latino, urban, suburban, "Boomer," or "Gen X" contemporary culture?

Problems in promoting strictly traditional, historical worship:
First, historical worship advocates cannot really dodge the charge of cultural elitism. Much of high culture music takes a great deal of instruction to appreciate, so that, especially in the United States, a strong emphasis on such music and art will probably only appeal to college-educated elites.
Second, any proponent of "historic" corporate worship will have to answer the questions, "Whose history?" Much of what is called "traditional" worship is very rooted in northern European culture.

What say ye? What are your thoughts? Would you add any "problems" to his list?


rick said...

just gimme that good old rock-n-roll ...

Vince said...

that would be fine if we were only talking about the genre of music but this about more than skynard. this is about lyrical content as well.

chorus (repeat until spirit moves)

david rudd said...

i really think this question cannot be answered without stepping back and really HONESTLY asking ourselves why we meet the way we do on Sunday mornings...

a) most of the time, people's issues with music are not theological.

b) most of the things we think are important to do on Sunday mornings are not theological.

i really don't know how to say what i'm trying to say. i'll try again later.

your no-mouth guy with eyes is creeping me out.

Mom Black said...

John 4:21-24
Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither (with hymns or choruses).... Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."


1 Corinthians 10:31..."whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

I know it's not always that simple but I think these verses should be our goal in any aspect of worship.

Bryan C. McWhite said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bryan C. McWhite said...

I think Mom black is on to something. What does Keller mean when he says, "Some popular music does have severe limitations for corporate worship"?

I take that to mean (despite whatever Keller means [this is a very postmodern hermeneutical move]) that some popular music is so devoid of truth content that it is almost useless in carrying out the "truth" part of "worship in spirit and in truth."

I'm preaching on John 4:23-24 next Sunday, so this discussion might be helpful.

dad black said...

There is some good advice in this article: More to Worship than Music

Jason said...

thank you for exploring this more and for trying to implement change at church. You are in my prayers for the challange before you!

B-U-R-L-Y said...

BCM asked: What does Keller mean when he says, "Some popular music does have severe limitations for corporate worship"?

Is he, perhaps, talking about sing-ability?

Our worship leader has a new blog: ... more theological than stylistic discussions.

Stephanie J. in Tucson said...

I have been on numerous "worship teams", starting about 20 years ago when the dissolution of choirs became vogue. (I've been outside of the "on stage" worship team scene since 2004 when my first girl was born.) The thing that always bugged me about the change from choir to team was the seeming emphasis upon personality and performance/stage presence for us "team members". Of course, save having the worship band behind a screen (like the great and powerful Oz) practically, the team must be on the stage. But there was something somewhat anonymous about being a part of a choir; we were a massive-blob-of-people. Hence, the emphasis was upon the music rather than the people. I'm not saying that choral music is inherently better or more spiritual, just that the tendency can exist for the people to become the focus...performing as the focus...rather than the music itself...with the praise band/worship team style. All that being said, I love contemporary worship music (if the lyrics are biblically sound) as an avenue for worshiping in spirit and in truth, but I also love traditional music for the SAME reason. As a side note, I can't stand when traditional music is "updated". The worst example of this is when "Amazing Grace" is sung to the tune of "Solid Ground" by The Eagles... "I gotta peaceful, easy feelin'..." ARGHHHH!!!!! Thanks for the vent venue, Mr. Vince.