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?