How long have God’s people been debating about the language and order of worship? Almost as long as we’ve been gathering for prayer and praise.
The More We Get Together: An interview with Jorge Lockward, minister of music to both a Spanish-and-English-speaking congregation
I got off the subway and walked a couple of blocks to the big brick church on the corner of Amsterdam and 105th in New York City. West End Presbyterian Church has been on that corner for over a hundred years and has seen many changes, especially in the past generation.
Bending God's Ear: Ways to transform the 'long' prayer into a rich and meaningful part of the liturgy
When I went to church with my parents in the late fifties, the sermon was about two peppermints long. I didn’t get peppermints during the prayer following the sermon. Hence the insufferable loooong prayer. My childhood is past; the long prayer is not. Just ask the children in church.
We were a hodgepodge group of volunteers who found ourselves serving on a committee dealing with a huge and complex issue for our church. We varied widely in gifts and temperament. After our leader unexpectedly quit, it was unclear what would happen. Whose vision would prevail?
I recently spoke at a Christian Growth Conference that had as its theme “Thirst for God.” Three to four hundred “thirsty” people showed up on a Saturday morning to learn how they could satisfy their thirst, and the numbers grew as the day progressed. Many Christians today, it seems, are thirsting for something more than they have found. Tired of learning about God, they want to experience God. And one of the ways they’re seeking to experience God is through prayer—all kinds of prayer:
Not long ago I asked a group to identifiy distinguishing marks of Reformed worship. “A unison prayer of confession,” one of them responded. Actually, we have not had a spoken unison prayer of confession for very long. Before the invention of the mimeograph, spoken, unison prayers were not possible. In fact, there was no such thing as a worship bulletin.
“Should we include a prayer for illumination in the liturgy? Or should we leave it out this week?”
- Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, has grown in fifteen years from six couples meeting in a living room to a congregation of three thousand that holds seven weekly worship services in its six-hundred-seat auditorium. Despite the fact that it has planted twelve daughter churches, it continues to grow. Twenty percent of its new members are recent converts. “I’m seriously praying about going to an eighth service,” says founding pastor Steve Sjogren, “because it would make room for more seekers.
When I was a child, my congregation sang the first verse of the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” as the worship introit every Sunday. Because the congregation sang the verse by heart, I learned it by ear only. For many months I sang:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, bless eternity!
My children still can’t believe that I am unable to discern the three-dimensional image in a magic-eye picture. “Dad, go like this,” they advise, looking at the picture cross-eyed, or touching their nose to the surface and backing up slowly. But no matter what I try, still no image. Only a vague sense of failure and frustration. “Don’t worry, Dad,” they say with a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, “you’ll get it one day.”