Praise him with the sound of the trumpet:
praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance:
praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals:
praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
—Psalm 150:3-5, KJV
Each Sunday, more than a thousand people of varied ethnicities and languages come from all over metro Manila, the Philippines, to worship in the presence of God’s people at the Union Church of Manila. They come from a range of economic and social backgrounds, but each Sunday morning and during the week they unite to share what they have in common and to participate in the work of God in the Philippines.
At a summer planning meeting on her back porch, Laura Smit, Dean of the Chapel at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, mentioned a Psalm Festival she had done with her church in Boston—all 150 Psalms in one night. That sounded like a great project for Calvin College.
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.”
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. —ERB
Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, has grown in fifteen years from six couples meeting in a living room to a congregation of three thousand that holds seven weekly worship services in its six-hundred-seat auditorium. Despite the fact that it has planted twelve daughter churches, it continues to grow. Twenty percent of its new members are recent converts. “I’m seriously praying about going to an eighth service,” says founding pastor Steve Sjogren, “because it would make room for more seekers.
Our thanks to the thirty-nine members of the Calvin Theological Seminary community (students, spouses, staff, faculty) who responded to an open invitation to participate in this pro/con feature. Respondents were from the U.S., Canada, Korea, and Romania.
Using overhead projection of songs in worship is helpful for the following reasons:
These two Easter services were submitted by Charlotte Larsen, director of music at the Ann Arbor Christian Reformed Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Like many growing congregations, Ann Arbor CRC holds two morning services that are distinct in style and flavor but grow out of the same Scriptures and include the same sermon. The different character of the two services is designed to address the diverse university community.
"Why sing songs written by fallen mortals when Almighty God has inspired 150 of his own hymns?" That kind of thinking made choosing music for worship a moot point for many of our Reformed forebears. You sang the psalms. No wrestling over hymns versus praise choruses. How things have changed over the centuries!
When congregations think about changing their worship service(s), they usually start by asking two questions: "What are we going to change?" and "How are we going to change it?" Those are fair and logical questions. Yet, because of their focus on the future, they do not represent the healthiest beginning point. As strange as it may sound, the first principle of healthy worship change is to begin with the past. We need to ask, "What aren't we going to change?" In other words, what don'twe want to give up?
This past June, my home congregation learned that we would be losing one of our two pastors, the adult choir director, and the organist. They all left for good and different reasons. But the joy of Pentecost Sunday was muted when I heard that day that all three would be leaving.
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.
Dr. James F. White is currently professor of liturgical studies at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, where he has supervised nearly twenty Ph.D. dissertations on worship-related topics. His sixteen books on worship include A Brief History of Christian Worship, An Introduction to Christian Worship, and Protestant Worship: Traditions in Transition, all texts that are frequently assigned in college and seminary courses on worship.
Casual in attire and casual about the time, they enter the old, two-story frame house on Indianapolis's near north side. They are at home here, and help themselves to coffee or iced tea. A mother tries to settle her small children over coloring books at the kitchen table; two guitarists confer and tune their instruments; others enter and begin animated conversations punctuated by loud laughter. But there's an absence of small talk. Almost apologetically, the host herds the ten adults into the living room.
The 930 a.m. service has ended, and the organist slips off the organ bench with her Handel and Bach pieces. Downstairs, the choir members are hanging up their robes. The director congratulates them on having sung a difficult arrangement of "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty." A few members come back up to the sanctuary and begin setting up for the 11:OO service.