Friday, August 22, 2008

Thoughts on Worship

I've been reading Marva Dawn's book: Reaching Out without Dumbing Down.  It has been challenging me in several ways with regard to worship.  I don't agree with all that she writes (as if that would be a good thing).  I do love her heart.

Here are a few things I like so far:
  • "The entire act of Christian worship is a gift to God of the entirety of the worshipers' lives."  This goes against an attitude which might say "I didn't get anything out of the service today."  Ultimately, who are we gathering for?  Us or God?
  • "Genuine praise of God depends upon truth.  It is not just an attitude of appreciation or an emotion of well-being or delight; instead, it acknowledges a superlative quality or deed.  Praise does not express our own yearnings or wishes; it responds to something given to us."  This is a what we are moving to at GCC.  More time to respond to God's truth.  I think it's working.  It is so good to be presented with truth and then have the space to process it and ultimately respond in praise of the One who allows us to recognize it.
  • "Churches actually do worship participants a disservice if their praise of God ignores life's harsh realities and God's presence in the midst of them.  To be only upbeat is to be unbiblical."  Agreed.  If people experience only the aspect of joy in church, they may come to suspect that the people of the church are plastic.  That "real life" is being swept under the rug while we put on happy smiles for weekend services.
  • "Worship must center on God, glorify Christ, involved people, express praise, communicate the truth of the Bible, encourage faith, promise redemption, reflect the incarnation, build up the Church, instill vision, make an offering, nurture communion, and evoke an 'Amen'."  This is certainly not an exhaustive list (from C. Welton Gaddy), but it is a good place to start.  The challenge is to discern what emphasis God desires in a given service.  Obviously all of these elements cannot receive the same amount of attention in one service.  In the fullness worship over a given season, I agree that these should be covered.
As we move through different changes at GCC, I'm sure we'll continue to wrestle with defining what our worship looks like.  I'm thrilled at this challenge.

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