Some church services keep my attention; others tend to bore me. Some carry me along with building energy; others have built-in distractions. Some flow like a symphony from beginning to end; others seem like a series of disparate parts.
(revised and expanded from an earlier edition by Judson Press). By Donald A. Spencer, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1993.315 pp.
"Well!" harrumphed the elder's wife, nodding toward the choir, "that's exactly the reason we left that other church!"
The anthem was simple and childlike—not great music by any means, hut all that the chil-drens choir could muster. They had worked hard to prepare for today's service.
Carol Doran and Thomas H. Troeger. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1992.160 pages.
Miracles happen on Wednesday afternoons at Bethany Church of Muskegon, Michigan. All a visitor might see is a room full of children, faces of every color, voices raised in laughter and song. But God is there with them—of that the people of Bethany are sure.
Reformed Worship Hymn Search
A new hymn competition was announced on the inside back cover of the last two issues of Reformed Worship. The deadline for the text entries was January 1. We are glad to report that many of you submitted new texts on our theme, "Your Kingdom Come." Those texts are now being considered by the three text judges.
Some congregations are beginning to explore different options for their second service. One such option is a home worship service, in which small groups from B-iecongregationmeetfor-worship, a meal and fellowship. Small groups from Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan, gather for home worship wlienever there's a fifth Sunday in the month—four times a year.
All of the songs in this issue of Reformed Worship—the three "Hymn of the Month" selections as well as the song on page 41—will be included in a new chUdrens hymnal scheduled for release by CRC Publications later this year. The new hymnal, Songs for LiFE, is designed for use with children in preschool through grade 6. It will be an excellent resource for church school, children's choirs, or Christian day schools. Some churches may even want to consider using it as a supplementary pew hymnal.
When I first arrived as the new associate pastor at a congregation I once served, I found the church trying to recover from a conflict involving my predecessor. He had been advocating more "praise-oriented" worship at the two Sunday morning traditional services. And he had lost the dispute. Upon his resignation, a significant number of the younger families left the congregation. Many of those remaining were still asking for an alternative to our traditional Lutheran service.
It's happened. YouVe been asked by the worship team or pastor of your church to lead in prayer in a worship service or other public meeting. "Me?" you think to yourself, your heart pounding. "Pray in front of all those people? Isn't that the pastor's job?"
Jeff, a teenager, was phasing out of Shawnee Park Church. He was dabbling in the occult and living loose. But then he found TIME-OUT! Before long, Jeff had recommitted his life to Christ and had become a sound technician for the service. Now he's in church every Sunday—whether he's on duty or not—because he has found a way to serve Jesus, and he's excited about it.
Just what is Reformed worship, anyway?
It is possible today to go to a church in the Reformed tradition and find worship influences from all sorts of directions— low and high church, charismatic and evangelical, liturgical and . . . well, of course, Reformed. Such variety raises the question in many minds of whether there is anything distinctive about Reformed worship.
Prayer is the heartbeat of worship— our living, vital entrance into the presence of God. It is also often the part of the worship service in which most people's minds go to sleep.
Is it possible to write prayers for worship that powerfully bring people into God's presence? Can written prayers help us to shake off the lethargy of our congregational prayers? Yes, it is possible—if some basic spiritual principles are followed.
You asked that nice couple to join your Koinonia class. They were new in town, so you told them all about agape and diakonia at your church. But they said they weren't too sure. They said they'd think about it. They said it all sounded like Greek to them.
What happened at the Delaney Street Church is so remarkably fascinating and yet unsettling that it's impossible to understand the phenomenon without a summary of the initial events. Please, allow me.
Pastor Smithson is a fine man. If humility is the first of virtues, one could call him a saint. He's neither a showman nor a shaman. And believe me, he doesn't enjoy controversy.
Call to Worship
All Christians have big celebrations on Christmas and Easter. But I wonder how many churches remember and celebrate the day of Pentecost. When I look back at my church life at home, I cannot remember having a special celebration service on the Sunday of Pentecost. Maybe that is the Korean Presbyterian Church way. But I do not think it's the right way.
Our guide for worship is Paul's letter to the Colossians. This epistle celebrates the lordship of Jesus Christ, reminds us of our "Freedom to Serve," and calls us to live in the fullness of our union with Christ. The order of worship mirrors the outline of this epistle, with hymns and prayers that serve to help us live into the truth of Paul's message.
Praise & Worship music has been with us now for some time. As a church musician, I applaud the broad appeal these songs hold. The lyrics are simple, the tunes are contemporary, and they're often useful for reaching people who aren't familiar with the church. The music also evokes emotion that is also appealing to many people.