We asked Robert Webber, a long-time friend of Reformed Worship, to write an editorial for this issue in which we explore ways churches are dealing with the intersection of worship, culture, and evangelism. In this issue you’ll find several different approaches from a variety of denominational traditions that we hope will stimulate discussion in your worship committees, and perhaps even better, in combined meetings of worship, youth, and evangelism staff and committees in your congregations.
by the Cambridge Singers, directed by John Rutter. Collegium Records COLCD 126, distributed by Hinshaw Music Publishers. $16.95.
SATB Octavos: The Cambridge Singers Festival Hymn Series. Hinshaw HMC1732; HMC1790-1803; HMC1831. $1.25.
Congregational booklet for ten hymns in the series that call for congregational participation. Hinshaw HMB222. $5.95.
Many of us church “insiders” know people outside the church who are similar to John, Carol, and Nathan. They range from being unchurched to antichurch or underchurched. Some are looking to delve into the mystery that is life, or they’re searching for “values”; some want guidance for building a just society; others are trying to fill an unnamed void unfilled by stock portfolios, hobbies, and relationships. Such people are seekers—those toward whom many churches are striving mightily to be friendly.
John A. Dalles: Swift Currents and Still Waters: 65 Hymn Texts.GIA G-5366, paper, $19.95.
K. Lee Scott: Rejoice in God: The K. Lee Scott Hymnary. Morning Star MSM90-28, paper. $15.00.
Herman G. Stuempfle, Jr. Awake Our Hearts to Praise! Hymns, Songs and Carols. GIA G-5302, paper, $19.95.
The worship bug first bit a long time ago—back in high school when I sang in “Gospel Press,” a church youth choir directed by Sonny Salsbury. But more on that later. Ever since then, my spiritual journey has taken me through various expressions of a movement some call a “worship awakening.”
I like banners without words. Most visuals do just fine by themselves if kept simple enough. Sometimes, though, it's just too difficult to illustrate a Scripture passage or concept with a graphic. In those cases we resort to words. But often the words are scattered across too much fabric and end up looking like so many elementary-school bulletin boards.
It is 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning. About forty teenagers have assembled in the choir rehearsal room at Islington United Church in west Toronto. Most of them look sleepy; many look as though they just stepped out of the shower. But they’re here, and as they warm up their voices and begin to sing, I’m reminded of newborn butterflies drying their wings and getting ready for flight. A parent checks attendance and solves last-minute problems.
We Gather as God’s People
“Oh, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” arr. Martha Lynn Thompson; senior bell choir
“Come, O Spirit, Dwell Among Us” VU 198
The grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the companionship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
And also with you.
During the last year I have been leading workshops and retreats on hospitality for many churches. Congregations who want to be hospitable can benefit from seeing their building, their practices, and their worship services through the eyes of a visitor.
I developed the following service for Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Langley, British Columbia, a congregation committed to hospitality and to welcoming neighbors to their faith community.
The story goes that Erasmus, a Renaissance scholar, was watching with the pope as wagonloads of wealth were brought through the gates of the Vatican. Turning to Erasmus, the pope observed. "No longer can the church say with Peter, 'Silver or gold have I none.'" Erasmus replied, "True. And neither can the church say to the lame man, 'Take up your bed and walk.'"
Mantaining spiritual vigor in the midst of great wealth was a challenge for the church of past centuries-and still is for the church today. We have been entrusted with incredible resources.
I wrote this service for a couple I married several years ago. Recently a colleague found it useful for a wedding he did, and now friends of that couple have asked for copies, so perhaps others will find this helpful too.
Declaration of Intent
I. The Way of Creation/Re-creation
The First Lesson: Genesis 2:18-25
Affirmation of the Families
For this service I simply took the teachings of the Heidelberg Catechism on the ascension of Christ and coordinated them with Scripture readings and songs (see Lord’s Days 18 and 19, pp. 879-881 in the worship edition of the Psalter Hymnal.) Members of the congregation read the Scripture passages. The worship leader introduced each Scripture reading and song with a heading, which was also printed in the bulletin. We placed the sermon early in the service; but you could insert a sermon at any point in the service where it matches a particular theme.
God, You Call Us to This Place
Creation Sings! Each Plant and Tree
You Are Crowned with Many Crowns
Santo EspÃritu, excelsa paloma/Holy Spirit,
from Heaven Descended
As Spirit-filled parents and children, we all need the Spirit’s guidance each day. I prepared this prayer of thanks and petition for mothers based on the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5, which was read before the prayer. Although Mother’s Day is not part of the liturgical calendar, it is certainly appropriate to pray specifically for mothers. This prayer could be used as part of the intercessory prayer on Mother’s Day or any other Sunday.
Listening to music on the Internet has become commonplace. These days, lots of folks are using Napster to download MP3 files from rock bands like Limp Bizkit. But others are logging on with a more devotional motive: to listen to and learn about psalms and hymns.
The Cyber Hymnal
Q. Worship services in our church are so fast-paced that I can barely keep up. What’s the big rush?
Date: 3/14/00 9:46PM
Subject: Ascension Day
9/27 Advance Planning for Next Month
That “testimony” service is coming up soon. Part of me knows it’s a good thing, yet another part of me is nervous. Just about anything could happen if we just open things up for students to come forward and talk. Like open mike night at improv. How worshipful is that? I still remember an Easter service at an Episcopal church where a fellow stood up and droned on and on about El Salvador or something until the pastor finally cut him off. Ouch!