Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gathering to worship

Michael Spencer continues his consideration of "The Evangelical Liturgy" with the purpose of the gathered believers, the congregation:
.... The congregation is not an audience. They are not consumers. They are not a market. A congregation is a gathering of God’s people, and their participation is defined by that identity and not any other. If a gathering is treated as anything other than a congregation of God’s people, it is difficult to call what happens a worship service. It may be a legitimate gathering for outreach, entertainment or communication, but it is not a gathering of the church. (I am completely comfortable with gatherings that are not intended to be the worship of the gathered church, but we should be honest about the congregation’s role.)

Every opportunity for participation by the congregation should be utilized. Singing. Praying. Responsive reading. Active listening. Adding the Amen. Ministering to one another. Serving and partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Reading/listening the proclamation of the Word.

The design of worship should be with the congregation’s worshiping response to God as the foremost human goal. The congregation should not be rendered passive or irrelevant.

Much that is done in evangelical worship treats the congregation with less than the respect due the people of God. Leaders are not celebrities to be adored. Responses that are human responses to human actions are of little interest in worship, but congregational responses to God are of great value.

It is the congregation that is the great worshiping instrument in the evangelical liturgy. Leaders are worship prompters by reminding the congregation of God and the Gospel. God the Spirit is present in the Gospel and the sacraments. The response of the congregation to God — and nothing else — defines the purpose of a gathering of the people of God for worship. [emphasis added] .... [more]
The Evangelical Liturgy 4: The Congregation |

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