In 1990 the congregation of Southern Heights Christian Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan (a thirty-year-old, largely white-collar congregation) had reached an important point in its history. By the members' own admission, the congregation had "stalled" for a number of years and needed to clarify its direction and begin moving forward. Some questioned whether it was good stewardship to continue paying the bills for a less-than-effective ninety-family congregation.
Editor Emily Brink met with Robert Webber one afternoon last fall on the campus of Wheaton College in Illinois, where he has taught in the theology department for the past twenty-eight years. We spoke together in his office in the Billy Graham Center, an impressive museum and office complex.
George Barna says you have to. Lyle Schaller says you ought to. Evangelists say you need to. The idea of creating a new worship expression, "contemporary" in character, alongside your present worshiping community is racing like wildfire through congregations all across North America.
In some ways, Judas and Peter were not that different: They both sinned. One could argue thatjudas's betrayal was worse than Peter's denial. But Jesus' words in Matthew 10:33 indicate that Peter's sin was deadly serious too: "Whoever disowns me before others, I will also deny before my Father in heaven."
In most Reformed and Presbyterian churches people do not kneel during prayer. Should they?
About one hundred years ago Abraham Kuyper, renowned Dutch theologian and prime minister of the 'Netherlands, addressed this question. His firm answer: Yes.
In the paragraphs that follow, Kuyper explains that kneeling was still customary as late as 1618, at the Synod of Dort. Various reasons and circumstances led to a change soon after that. But not very good reasons!
Looking Back, Looking Ahead at Changes in Worship: An interview with James F White, one of North America's foremost liturgical scholars
Dr. James F. White is currently professor of liturgical studies at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, where he has supervised nearly twenty Ph.D. dissertations on worship-related topics. His sixteen books on worship include A Brief History of Christian Worship, An Introduction to Christian Worship, and Protestant Worship: Traditions in Transition, all texts that are frequently assigned in college and seminary courses on worship.
Have You Seen the Angels? A series of Advent and Christmas services: a series of Advent and Christmas services
It's fall. You are already noticing the Christmas catalogues showing up in your mailbox. Though school has barely begun, your calendar tells you it is time to plan for Advent and Christmas. And the very thought of it makes you tremble just a little.
Though it has faded in importance over the last few decades, the godparent relationship has had a long and distinguished history in the church. Traditionally chosen by the parents of a child and present at baptism, godparents played a number of roles in the life of a baptized child. Sometimes they even assumed the parental role when the parents were unable to for some reason. Perhaps most important, godparents were responsible with the parents to insure that a child received the proper spiritual training.
The elderly gentleman was adamant. Including a children's message in the worship service, he said, distracted other worshipers from focusing on God.
An equally elderly gentleman leaned forward to emphasize his disagreement. He said he was thrilled to see that finally the lambs as well as the sheep were being fed at the worship service.
A mother added her viewpoint. She said that she sometimes got more out of the children's message than the sermon.
RESURRECTION CHURCH, FLINT, MICHIGAN
"Resurrection RCA doesn't have a lot of baggage in the way of traditional expectations for worship services," admits Pastor Paul "Bud" Pratt. "So we have been free to develop our ministry based on the needs we see. And our ministry to the family has been very intentional."