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.
The dearest idol I have known, whate'er that idol be,
help me to tear it from thy throne
and worship only thee.
William Cawper, 1772
We all know starry-eyed couples who are more "in love with love" than anything else. They are, alarmingly, hardly focused on each other at all. Their energies are more consumed with the details of the wedding day than with the ongoing realities of the life-long marriage afterwards.
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.
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.
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."
Have you noticed the new "kid on the block," or, more accurately, the new hymnal reference in all the service resources in this issue of RW? Those of you who check out the fine print for the sources of songs used in the various services and drama, will notice a new set of letters. SFL stands for Songs for LiFE, a new children's hymnal just published by CRC Publications. A leader's edition is scheduled for release this summer.