Blog

  • We love weekly communion. And we love how the Epiclesis reminds us of our dependence on the Holy Spirit.

    During Lent a few years ago, our congregation began celebrating the Lord’s Supper weekly. At last, more than twenty years into our church plant-turned mission-oriented congregation, we became truly Reformed and truly ecumenical, honoring the best wisdom and practice of the global church.

  • Is it ever OK to…?

    Is it ever OK to be intentionally exclusive in worship? 

    I’ve been having this internal argument of late about whether or not it is ever OK to make a worship decision that you know will result in some demographic being left out when it is within your power to be more inclusive? In other words, is it ever OK to be intentionally exclusive in worship?

    Think through these scenarios with me:

  • The creational nature of the garden-kingdom metaphor can help build visuals and object lessons for preaching, enrich the worship environment, and shape how a congregation walks through the big movements of the biblical story.

  • Since we invite people of all ages to receive baptism as a sign of God’s never ending grace-filled love for them, why not also let people of all ages also receive communion as a sign of God’s never ending grace-filled love for them?

  • The array of worship services during the Holy Week is meant to be, as described by some Millennials, an “embodied practice of faith—a liturgy that shapes our stance toward heaven more than our intellect about heaven.”

  • Sound and light in worship services excite our God-created sensory systems. While some worshipers welcome them, they could make others feel uncomfortable. Barb Newman shares some ideas on “sensory friendly” worship environments.

  • Even in the midst of falling steeples, in the face of the crucified Messiah, in our own baptismal drowning we are assured that the church won’t fall.

    Like many people around the world, my social media feed has been filled with images of the burning Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France. Knowing its history and having been privileged to visit it many years ago I was saddened by its partial destruction and can understand the grief of those with closer ties. As I watched the video of the falling cathedral spire the words of this hymn came to mind:

  • Choral music itself will never be a thing of the past, but impoverished are the congregations who are forcing their people to experience singing in secular settings.

    How important are church choirs? How vital are they to a healthy ministry? Why have them at all?

  • Epiphany might not be on every congregation’s calendar. But perhaps some simple frames can enable worship leaders and worshipers—veteran and novice—to add it to theirs.

  • Death is a very real word and a very real reality. For followers of the One who defeated death, it is the next logical step in our eternal trust walk with triune God.

  • Mission unfolds in our homes and backyard gardens. Mission extends across generations and welcomes new people into our families. Mission seeks the well-being and shalom of the whole city. And this day-in, day-out mission of being God’s people includes praying for the city in which we live.

    Though not prone to proof-texting, the missional church conversations in which I often find myself do have a few favorite passages that are often employed with a mic-drop emphasis. Jeremiah 29:4-7 is one of those go-to texts:

  • When we gather each week, we participate through thick and thin practices. We benefit from both and both play important parts in the liturgy. But given a choice between the two, choose thick.

    As Christ-followers, we worship the Lord through thick and thin. We worship the Lord in good times and bad, with plenty and with little, after victory and after defeat, during storms and while basking in the sun.

  • There is never “one right way” to lead the followers of Jesus in worship. Worship is a three-dimensional activity and needs to be viewed from all sides

  • After a worship service a couple of years ago, a staff person (a delightful Peruvian woman who greets everyone, both first time attendees and dearly loved regulars, with a warm South American hug) was handed a note,

  • While few of us spend much time in the Old Testament book of Leviticus, when we do we discover an exciting truth: our God loves to party. In fact, he prescribed three seasonal festivals of worship and remembrance for his people.

  • It may come as a surprise to some of us that the Holy Spirit does not take a day off. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit works on Tuesday as well as he does on Sunday mornings. Even the Tuesday a week before. Or a month before.

  • Undoubtedly the most profound miracle and mystery about worship is that when Christians gather to worship our Lord, God shows up! He is present within the praises, prayers, and reflections of his people. Paul provides my favorite description of this presence: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3: 16).

  • Wonder

    It has been famously said (a polite way of saying that “it” has been attributed so many people we don’t know who originally said it) that “The world does not lack for wonders, only for a sense of wonder.” Those words danced through my mind last week as I walked out of an evening gathering in downtown Chicago and saw the light from the streetlamps catching thousands of falling snowflakes, turning each one into its own brief moment of shimmering beauty.

  • Revisiting Jean-Jacques von Allmen’s Liturgical Wisdom for Today’s Church

    This post is the concluding part of a three-part article “Three Theological Themes for Worship,” a condensation of a presentation given at the 2018 Symposium on Worship. This series explores Jean-Jacques von Allmen’s most generative insights and considers how they might shape the worship we prepare and lead today.