A colleague was asked point-blank at a workshop recently, “Have changes in worship in the last generation been good or bad?”
The short answer may be yes.
A longer answer was given at a day-long seminar at the Calvin Symposium on Worship 2006. The seminar featured a panel of prominent worship leaders who had probably never been together in the same room before. They reflected in very different ways on one of the central topics in twentieth-century North American religion: changes in worship practices.
It started quietly enough. In 1903, acting on two overtures calling for the preparation of worship forms for congregational use, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA voted to form a committee to prepare a “Book of Simple Forms and Services.” The book was to be firmly rooted in Scripture and Reformed usage, avoid ritualism, embody sound doctrine, and enable a fuller participation of the people in the worship of God.
Together, Christine O’Reilly and Peter Bush are theauthors of Where Twentyor Thirty Are Gathered:Leading Worship in theSmall Church (Alban, 2006).
About once a quarter on a Saturday, it would fall on my plate tolead a new members’ class for those who’d expressed interest in joiningthe church. Most of the teaching took place in the church’s Christianeducation building. At the end of the class, however, I would walk thegroup across the churchyard for a quick tour of the sanctuary.