Saturday, March 22, 2008

Don't call it worship

Michael Spencer has been blogging about "freedom in worship" contrasted with the "regulative principle" which he defines as "the belief that nothing should be done in worship that is not expressly commanded in scripture" and he describes how he would make that work.

Today he observes that:
Much of the nastiness of the "worship wars" could be avoided if elders and church leaders were taught to think and plan with a moderate regulative principle in mind. Of course, putting the Biblical story in the central place it deserves and scripture commends would cramp the style of a lot of church-growth preachers, who center "worship" around whatever pulls in a crowd. The question they may need to ask is why they continue to advertise as "worship" something which is clearly not, nor really even intended to be. If you want to have a kickin' band play a set and then talk about sex after reading a couple of Proverbs, go ahead, but don't fool yourself and others into calling it worship.
Some years ago my local church did a study of the elements and purpose of worship as described in Scripture. Paul Manuel led our study and our conclusions framed how our worship leaders subsequently planned our Sabbath service. This essay by Paul reflects much of what we concluded and this, often printed on the back of our bulletins, describes what we do and why:
Each service has a theme that emphasizes a particular aspect of God's person or work. The music and readings are all selected to support and develop this theme so that the service has order and direction. We begin our worship with a brief time of silent meditation on a passage of Scripture. This helps us focus our attention on the Lord we praise and begins our consideration of the worship theme. The worship leader then directs the service by indicating how each hymn, chorus, and Scripture helps us understand and worship our God. [more]
And so I find myself very much in sympathy with the Internet Monk [Spencer] when he expresses himself on this topic. Although one can intentionally worship in almost any environment, it's much nicer when those leading are helping rather than hindering. » Blog Archive » iMonk 101: The Regulative Principle and Lessons From The Psalms

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