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March 1996

Don't Get Hung Up On Style: A conversation

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.

Notes

CRC CONFESSIONS AND LITURGICAL FORMS ON DISK

Look Before You Leap! Second thoughts on adding a contemporary service

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.

Mixed Motives

Book: The Contemporary Christian Music Debate: Worldly Compromise or Agent of Renewal?

Steve Miller. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993. 261 pages. $8.99.

Next to theology, there has been no more contentious an issue throughout the church's history than music. Church fathers, popes, priests, ministers, evangelists, reformers, and laity alike have swayed, sometimes violently, between tendencies toward asceticism on one hand, and accommodation on the other. Every so often, these conflicting tendencies clash openly. We are in the midst of such a time today.

Contemporary Worship Comes of Age: A look at <em>Worship Evangelism</em> and <em>Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down</em>

Worship Evangelism: Inviting Unbelievers into the Presence of God, by Sally Morgenthaler. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995. 320 pp. $19.99.
Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down: A Theology of Worship for the Turn-of-the-Century Culture, by Marva J. Dawn. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995. 316 pp. $16.99

Comfort, Comfort Now My People: A service of dramatic readings and songs from the book of Isaiah

The book of Isaiah is filled with poetry that has been set to music, more so than any other book of the Bible except for the Psalms. The gospel is clearly set forth in this Old Testament prophecy, which also includes visions remarkably similar to those of John in the book of Revelation. Last year was an "Isaiah year" for the Calvin Seminary Choir. The following service was part of the choir tour program. In addition to directing the choir, the choir director directed the congregation's entrances and gave cues for standing and sitting.

A Challenge for Today's Christians: Three services for the Pentecost season in response to the Great Commission

It may seem strange for someone whose ministry career has focused on new-church development and seeker-sensitive worship to be following the lectionary. But I have found the discipline of following the series of lessons from the Old and New Testaments an ongoing discovery of the rich relevance of the Bible for contemporary hearers.

On the Day of Pentecost: A service celebrating the Holy Spirit's power

This service was submitted by Nolan and Phyllis Palsma, copastors of Pitcher Hill Community Church {Reformed Church in America), North Syracuse, New York. This service was prepared to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit in power to the disciples on the day of Pentecost. The sanctuary was graced with dozens of red geraniums and red balloons, and many in the congregation even wore red, all to symbolize the tongues of flame that accompanied the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Introducing Graham Kendrick

We usually provide three hymns in "Songs for the Season" (formerly "Hymn of the Month"). But for this issue we've asked Bert Polman to introduce us to Graham Kendrick, the composer of "Shine, Jesus, Shine," a hymn that has become enormously popular since Kendrick wrote it less than ten years ago.

Who is Graham Kendrick, and what else has he written?

Is It Well With Your Worship? Twelve symptoms of a church that is worshiping worship

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.

Growing Pains: What happened when one congregation introduced major changes

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.

Why They Come, Why They Stay: What draws visitors and keeps them coming back?

I've misplaced the survey . . . and it's driving me crazy! It was just one among the umpteen-dozen surveys we post-modern pastors are continually bombarded with—but it got my attention. And now I can't find it. Was it in The Christian Century or Christianity Today? Last year or three years ago? I can't remember, and that embarrasses me.

On Language and the Common Cup

Q. In the new Psalter Hymnal the linguistic surgeons decided to cut out the phrase "Here I raise my Ebenezer" from "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing," thus depriving the reader/singer of a biblical allusion (at least they kept "Thou," for a change). Have any other hymn editors seen fit to do so?

Worship: What Is It All About?

It had not been the most edifying week for my involvement in worship. A local church asked me to suggest a "creative solution" for a prolonged controversy about the use of overhead transparencies for praise songs. (My suggestion about installing an impenetrable wall between the traditionalists and the experimentalists and using the wall for projection was not taken seriously). The high-church "Liturgy" Internet board I participate in had a long(winded) discussion about what kind of tablecloth to use on the communion table.

Letters

THANKS FOR "WORSHIP WARS" AND "Q & A"

Thank you for putting the "worship wars" clearly into perspective, into the setting of our culture (in your editorial in RW 37). However, the second sentence in the next to last paragraph of your editorial might be taken to mean that the Reformed tradition does not include a definite liturgical form.