The Summer, 2007 REACH! newsletter for WELS youth workers says that the upcoming youth rally will offer “Open Space.” This will be a collection of topical discussions or presentations in “an informal/open format.” Sounds like a good idea. It then lists some questions that will serve as topics, with a bit of explanation for each. Here’s one.
What kind of worship do you prefer?
The results from the 2007 Survey of WELS Teens found 72% of the 421 respondents preferring public/group worship that was described in these two ways: a) creative worship using the hymnal along with a variety of other resources, led often by an organ but also regularly involving other instruments – 51%, and b) contemporary worship, informal, with nothing from the hymnal, with praise choruses and a praise band of various instruments – 21%. Only 12% preferred historic worship using only the orders of service and hymns from the hymnal, led by an organ. 16% were unsure.
If I had to answer this, I don’t know where our congregations’ current worship practice would fall. As I began reading it, I thought that option A described what we’re doing. Really. We’re open to church members who can contribute musically on their own instruments, though we haven’t recently seen enough interest from any musicians (besides myself) to make it happen. It does take a lot of preparatory work to play an instrument in church. Ask any organist. I can vouch that our worship is creative, because an awful lot of work goes into the preparations for all the various parts — many hours each week. Sometimes even the choir sings, which I think is creative, too. We also use a variety of resources besides the hymnal. One look at my own library will confirm this. Chief among our “other resources” is the Bible.
But then there’s the bit about “historic worship,” which also describes what we do. We almost always use the orders and hymns from the hymnal, and that means that every single service is unique in theme and form as we proceed through the year. Many of the differences are a matter of choice: we could do things a certain way, but we opt for another way. Variety and options abound. I don’t see “historic worship” working against creativity in the least, so I’m puzzled.
Maybe I missed the real meaning of option A. Is it really what Lost and Found describes in Opener?
EVERY SUNDAY IS JUST LIKE THE LAST, AS IF THE CHURCH HAS NO HISTORY AND THE PEOPLE HAVE NO PAST. WE JUST SING THE SONGS WE LIKE TO SING AND WE PREACH ABOUT THE NEWS AND WE THINK UP SOME NEW THING JUST TO FILL UP THE PEWS.
That wasn’t my impression the first time I read A. Or, maybe “Creative” really means something more like “entertaining,” “amusing,” “diverting,” or “fun.” Or it could mean “spontaneous,” “unprompted,” or “impulsive.”
An important observation is the difference between Israel around the golden calf (“Is that the sound of battle?”) and Judah celebrating the Passover under King Josiah, about 8-900 years later. On the one hand, Israel impulsively does what seems right to man, and on the other hand, Judah pays close attention to observe exactly what God has provided, because therein lies His blessings. This was quite the Passover celebration. It was a universal sacred meal, recalling the time when God’s people were shielded from death by their communion in the body and blood of a lamb. Do we have any such thing today? We have something even better.
I think a great deal of creativity is
appropriate for God’s people. King Josiah and his subjects took the
initiative to do things in a way that God’s people had never done
before: worship according to God’s Word, without any compromise.
But maybe I don’t really know what is meant by “creative.”
Or, maybe there’s something wrong with the way those three choices were described. So, I’d be glad to hear your thoughts. What kind of worship do you prefer?