John D. Witvliet (CICWDir@calvin.edu) is director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Articles by this author:
The function of hymnals in the life of the church has changed dramatically over the past thirty years. Many congregations rarely use them. Thousands of Christians seldom, if ever, open one. When people hear of the publication of Lift Up Your Hearts (LUYH), it’s natural for some of them to ask, “Why would you ever want to publish another hymnal?”Article Resources:
Q:Are there ever instances in which it could be appropriate for people to celebrate the Lord’s Supper using a video feed over the Internet, especially for small rural churches in northern Canada that are separated by miles yet served by only one pastor? Could that be considered a real celebration of the Lord’s Supper?
Q: Sometimes I worry that the kids I teach don’t see how the Bible fits together. How can I help them get “the big picture”?
Several recent books have lamented that while many people know some Bible stories, they really don’t have a sense of “The Big Overarching Story” of God’s mission in the world. Some people wonder whether worship reinforces this problem by jumping around from one part of the Bible to another.Article Resources:
Q: We recently welcomed a visitor with limited church background who loved our music and was open to our preaching, but said that she felt our church had a negative view of our city. We are scratching our heads about what to make of this.
Q: How can we publicly welcome children who are ready to participate in the Lord’s Supper for the first time without putting too much pressure on very shy children?
A: Churches are wise to find ways to publically celebrate this milestone moment in children’s lives. Here are a few suggestions from a variety of congregations for doing so in age-appropriate ways:
- Eleven Things to Celebrate, Ponder, or Lament
Over the past fifteen months, it has been my joy to worship with more than forty congregations from twenty different denominations as part of our family’s sabbatical in southern California. It would take a book to unpack all the things we experienced. For now, here is a brief report on eleven things that we noticed—some to celebrate, some to ponder, some to lament.
- Learning from Psalm 73
Have you ever been in a worship service where the spoken, sung, or visual message was transformational? You leave convicted that the old way of doing, believing, or speaking was wrong and it is replaced with a new way. Such was the experience of the writer of Psalm 73.
In this article John Witvliet explores Psalm 73 and what it might teach us about worship today—and how it might provide an example for future issues of Reformed Worship. —JB
Q My church sings contemporary music, but with piano accompaniment rather than guitar and drums. It doesn’t sound very contemporary. Why can’t the music be led by a band, like it was designed to be?
A There are a lot of layers to this question. Some churches don’t have a praise band because they don’t have people with the necessary skills. Others prefer piano or organ or have discerned that in their context piano or organ accompaniment leads to the best possible singing. All of those judgments need to be made contextually.
Q Is it really legitimate to treat some psalms as if they refer to Jesus?
A Christians have long interpreted several psalms (16, 24, 72, 110, and others) as referring to Jesus. This is very similar to Christological readings of other Messianic prophecies, such as Isaiah 7, 9, or 40.
- Our church has a part-time worship coordinator and rotating worship teams, but everyone is feeling burned out. What advice do you have for restructuring our work?
- Our music director is retiring, and we want to revise the job description. We want to involve more people in worship.