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Copyright © 2001
M. S. Thirumalai
A VISION FOR WORSHIP ... !
In Spirit, In Truth
THE CHALLENGE OF WORSHIPING IN THE CULTURAL CONTEXT
Churches and Christian organizations have always had to work through issues related to worship style.
More than music, worship is the expression toward God of praise, adoration, reverence, and awe. Drawn by God's transcendence, the worshipper humbly bows before His majesty. Aware of God's immanence, the worshiper revels in a sense of intimacy with Him. Between intimacy and majesty are limitless possibilities for the expression of true worship.
The church always faces the Challenge of Worshiping in Cultural Context. This is a historical fact.
"CONTEMPORARY" CHANGES FROM ONE GENERATION TO ANOTHER, ONE AGE TO ANOTHER, BUT COMMITMENT REMAINS FOREVER
For any culture at any time, the most appropriate music for the worshipful expression of each congregation is known as "contemporary." Contemporary music is not simply a style, but a commitment of a congregation to remain relevant in its worship and presentation of the gospel message. Such a contemporary expression may include a song that is hundreds of years old or a new song. It is the relevance of the style to the congregation which makes it contemporary.
Our modern culture has accelerated the rate of innovation and change, bringing new instruments and styles to the Church. The contemporary of 1943 and the contemporary of 2004 are very different. Today the word contemporary has come to represent a style of presentation (drums, bass, guitar, keyboard, and 3-5 vocalists who lead "choruses"). This is held in contrast to "traditional" worship. Traditional represents a repository of enduring hymns and songs of the previous contemporary worship styles, from 15th century German bar tunes to early American folk style and "revival" and "camp meeting" songs, and even including songs barely a decade old.
TRADITIONAL AND CONTEMPORARY ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE
Traditional and contemporary are not mutually exclusive categories. A congregation can adopt a style of worship which is contemporary (relevant to the population it desires to win and disciple) while still incorporating elements from previous contemporary eras.
WORSHIP IN WAYS THAT REACH OTHERS
To communicate the gospel, we worship in ways that reach others.
Church must continue to reach out to those who have not yet heard the gospel. In order to do this, we are committed to a contemporary worship service in terms of instruments, style, and music. At the same time, we will embrace the legacy of worship found within each of our congregations by incorporating into our contemporary worship the enduring elements belonging to the historical church. Church must seek to use culturally appropriate forms to draw its members and seekers into vibrant and living expressions of worship.
INTENTIONAL PURSUIT OF A WORSHIP STYLE
In committing to contemporary worship, we may intentionally pursue a worship style which:
- Relates in a contemporary setting. The Holy Spirit is speaking into the Church today, and much of the contemporary music reflects what is being revealed.
- Centers around a musical form which makes it easier for seekers to participate in our services.
- Attracts a younger generation. It indicates our willingness to reach out to poeple in our cities, towns, and villages, where the median age is around 33 or so, and to encourage the participation of young people in all the activities of the Church.
- Engages the worshipper for long enough periods of time to draw the attention away from every day life, allowing people to experience the transcendence and immanence of the Lord.
- Rises above entertainment, involving the worshiper as participant with spirit, soul, and body.
- Integrates hymns and gospel songs which may not be contemporary in culture and style but have a timeless and timely message which enriches and enhances the flow of contemporary worship.
A DECISION TO WORSHIP IN HUMILITY AND WITH DIVERSITY
Worship demands an attitude of humility and commitment that seeks the good of the other. It expects that those with a living faith are more "missionary" in their outlook and lay aside their own natural preferences in favor of that which would bring the greatest amount of blessing to others. It also calls for a variety of worship to allow all to truly participate.
Church should intentionally seek such a standard. We cannot allow conflicts over style to divide our congregations. Nor can we regress into one era of worshipful expression. Instead, we should pursue a contemporary worship that is relevant to our community, both within and outside of the church, in order to proclaim the name of Jesus and declare his glory to the people of our cities, towns, and villages, and to the world.
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A VISION FOR WORSHIP ... ! In Spirit, In Truth | STANDING ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS - Learning From Those Who Preceded Us in Faith | SAVED BY HIS LIFE - A Guide to Understanding Romans | IF WE WILL OBEY ... ! God's Grace for Me through the Ilokano People |HOW SHALL WE HONOR? | SPIRITUAL WARFARE AND PRAYER IN MISSIONARY STRATEGY | DON'T WORRY! Easy to Say, But Can We Stop Doing It? | HOME PAGE | CONTACT EDITOR
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