Steadfast Media Pick of the Week — Church Shopping

Church Shopping

Pastor Bill Cwirla discusses and answers questions regarding what to look for when “shopping” for a church. A related Higher Things article was posted here.

Part 1:
[podcast]http://wittenbergmedia.org/audio/Church_Shopping_-_Cwirla.1.mp3[/podcast]
 
Part 2:
[podcast]http://wittenbergmedia.org/audio/Church_Shopping_-_Cwirla.2.mp3[/podcast]
Original Air Date: September 14, 2003


Comments

Steadfast Media Pick of the Week — Church Shopping — 22 Comments

  1. I have a concern about the music our new director is playing at our 8:00 service that has always been traditional. He is now playing half traditional hymns and half new contemporary. We already have 2 other services just for those who prefer the newer up beat service. I have mentioned my preference to leave our traditional service the same to our newer young pastor but it seems I must be the only member who feels that way. I am just wondering if I am seeing everything as a change because it is a change or is it normal to not care for the newer service.

  2. @Jan Haley #1
    That’s what always seems to happen. Either they want to use the same songs at both services, or the choir wants to prove that they can be modern, too, or there just isn’t time for the good long hymns so short little ones start to take over. Or suddenly it’s impossible to do the whole service in an hour, so you start to skip the gradual and/or introit ‘because no one understands them anyway, and they are really for cathedrals where the pastors have to move around’, or avoid chanting because it takes longer than just saying the words, or truncate the prayers because they are too long. It’s not always on purpose, but I have never seen an early ‘traditional’ service/late ‘contemporary’ service where it didn’t go that way sooner or later. It’s just the nature of it, and it’s very unfortunate. And of course they don’t think anyone cares, or they don’t care whether anyone cares or not. It’s sad to watch the progression.

  3. @Carol Broome #2
    they don’t care whether anyone cares or not. It’s sad to watch the progression.

    Anyone who does care is welcome to leave, while they build the future adjunct to ***A…
    [But they’ll be happy to take your money until you do leave.]

  4. Every time I ask somebody why a contemporary service is introduced to begin with, the responses given are either 1.) self-centered (because it’s what we like) or 2.) based upon faulty theology (“If we can just crank the volume up, more people will come to Christ!”).

    Question: are there any Lutheran resources (read: books) available that talk about the value of the divine service over and above the Contemporary Worship service?

    If not, and if anybody here has the urge to do so, I would strongly suggest that such a work be undertaken. People need to see why it is that the divine service has so much more to offer and is far more Scriptural than the “pop concert with a Christian theme” approach.

  5. BTW, for the record, I love hearing that old Issues, etc. theme. Takes me back to the days of Don Matzat (nothing against you, Todd, but I cut my teeth on Don).

  6. Unfortunately, some Lutherans are buying into the evangelical notion that worship is about “me” and making me FEEL closer to God, instead of coming together to honor and worship the King of Kings.

    When you are giving honor to the King, your feelings are irrelevant.

  7. When thinking about the “traditional” vs. “contemporary” services the thought has always come to mind that it seems the ‘baby” Christians are forcing their way over against the more “mature” Christians and in some congregations the “babies” are having their way!
    I welcome any comments.

  8. @wineonthevines #8
    That may be true is some cases. What I have found is that many supporters of the “traditional” service can only give stylistic defenses or appeals to tradition. The real issue is catechesis. We must be taught and reminded of the richness and depth of God’s Word that is delivered in the Divine Service. In love, we must continually point out where “contemporary” services are lacking.

  9. @Brian Yamabe #9

    “The real issue is catechesis. We must be taught and reminded of the richness and depth of God’s Word that is delivered in the Divine Service. In love, we must continually point out where “contemporary” services are lacking.”

    Yes, exactly.

  10. @Brian Yamabe #9
    In love, shall we also continually point out where “traditional” services are lacking?

    On Sunday morning my church has one traditional service and one contemporary service, and love covers over a multitude of sins.

  11. @Carl H #11
    Well, yes, I thought that was clear from my comment that the issue was catechesis.

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts on where the Historic Liturgy is lacking. It is man-made and not perfect so I’m open to hearing what criticisms people have.

    Also, do you have the order of both services available anywhere? My church has both types of service as well and I am always interested to see how much the services differ in other churches.

  12. @Iman X Baptist #6
    RE: “When you are giving honor to the King, your feelings are irrelevant.”

    “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Phil. 4:4

    A Sampling of Lines from Selected Hymns (LSB)
    Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
    • All my heart again rejoices.
    • Let our gladness have no end.
    • Let us all with gladsome voice praise the God of heaven.
    • Then why should men on earth be so sad, since our Redeemer made us glad?
    • Comfort, comfort ye my people.
    • Grant that I Your passion view with repentant grieving.
    • O darkest woe! Ye tears, forth flow!
    • Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.
    • I know that my redeemer lives. What comfort this sweet sentence gives.
    • I am content! My Jesus ever lives….
    • With high delight, let us unite in songs of great jubilation.
    Rejoice, O pilgrim throng.
    • Jesus has come and brings pleasure eternal.

    Our feelings are indeed relevant. Is God glorified in dispassionate worship, in light of all that He has accomplished for us and among us?

    But I would agree that emotionalism is out of place. It’s perverse and self-centered to measure the quality of worship by some kind of elation meter and try to manipulate the congregation into some collective feeling of ecstasy. Rather, we bring our emotions into play because God has, in truth, given us ample reason to express these to Him.

  13. @Brian Yamabe #12

    LSB Divine Service Setting Three

    I grew up with this setting and have followed it gladly for much of my adult life. Then I noticed that it seemed we were asking for mercy throughout the service. So I counted:
    1. In the Confession, we ask God to be merciful.
    2. Moments after the absolution is given, in the Kyrie, we ask for God’s mercy three more times.
    3. In the Gloria we ask for God’s mercy twice again.
    4. We hear the comforting assurance of the Gospel in the sermon, but nevertheless shortly thereafter plead again for mercy in Offertory with the words, “Cast me not away from Thy presence,” as if we remain fearful of God’s wrath.
    5. In the Agnus Dei we ask for God’s mercy two more times.

    It’s not until the Thanksgiving near the end of the service that we affirm, “His mercy endureth forever.” By then we have appealed for mercy nine times. Despite my appreciation of this setting for many years, it now leaves the impression that Lutherans are a people who have difficulty being secure in the Lord — even after being declared forgiven and hearing the Gospel preached!

    ——–

    I appreciate your request for copies of the order of worship from both services at my church. I don’t have copies to send just now, but can tell you that the early service typically follows one of the hymnal settings, somewhat simplified. The contemporary service is simpler still, with opening songs, confession, absolution, sermon, offering, prayers, communion, closing song.

    In my previous congregation, I had the opportunity to put together a contemporary liturgy, which was ultimately approved by the pastor. It kept much of the traditional liturgical structure, with short contemporary music segments instead of some of the liturgical singing, and mostly new words for the confession, absolution, and prayers before and after communion. It seemed to be well-received.

  14. Carl H :

    … Despite my appreciation of this setting for many years, it now leaves the impression that Lutherans are a people who have difficulty being secure in the Lord — even after being declared forgiven and hearing the Gospel preached!

    I would say that asking for God’s mercy so often is a reminder that we live a life of continual repentance and that our faith and all we have is dependent on His mercy. We have trust in it by faith, but we never move beyond it because we live in it.

    In your second service, what do you use for the Ordinaries and Canticles? Our second service largely removes them and that is my biggest issue with it (content of the praise songs comes a close second). The didactic nature of the Ordinaries is something I refuse to remove from my children’s worship life. For example, the Sanctus and Post-Communion Canticle really highlight what is going on in the Lord’s Supper.

  15. People who come to church are in one of two categories: they are either worshipers or consumers. Worshipers are all about Jesus and nothing but Jesus. Consumers are about themselves and nothing but themselves. Since the consumers outnumber the worshipers, and since the consumers put a significant amount of money in the plates each week, the temptation is to do the easiest thing and let the consumers have their way. By doing this you may have a larger attendance (but I don’t think that can be proven) but you’ll have a shallower, weaker body.
    I love the liturgy, but I am also uncomfortable with it. It is my nature to want to put together a lovely homemade service order that is fun and happy and exciting. This would make many people happy and want to come to church, right? But the liturgy is what we NEED. It may not be fun or zippy or exciting, but it is nothing but Christ crucified. His death on the Cross was not exciting, fun or zippy, but it is the one necessity we all have.

  16. @J. Dean #4

    Have you read Klemet Pruses’ book Fire and the Staff? It is a very readable and thought provoking comparison between Traditional and Contemporary worship. He bases his reasoning on the connection between Lex Orandi and Lex Credendi. How we pray determines what we believe and vice versa.

  17. Consumers are about themselves and nothing but themselves.

    Are you saying that clergy and folks participating in contemporary worship are only involved in nothing but themselves?     Are we over-generalizing here? 🙂

    There’s many types of contemporary worship ranging from blended liturgical to wild rock concert.   I don’t think it’s that simple to put everyone in two buckets of consumer and worshipper.

    “We want to encourage reconsideration on the part of those who would treat the liturgical deposits as a finished work. We want to encourage reconsideration on the part of those who would replace entirely the voices of the past with the voice of the present. In other words, we want to make full use of the worship treasures of the past, present, and future.” – Pr Matt Harrison, Today’s Business, Issue 1, May 2013

  18. @Carl H #14

    It kept much of the traditional liturgical structure, with short contemporary music segments instead of some of the liturgical singing, and mostly new words for the confession, absolution, and prayers before and after communion. It seemed to be well-received.

    I’m afraid to think what this might look like! In my experience, people who have a problem with saying “Lord, have mercy” have a bigger problem with believing they’ve sinned.
    One of them said to me, “Why do we have confession and absolution every Sunday? Isn’t once enough?”

    I was once told a story about a discussion between two individuals, one of whom thought he was a pretty good fellow. (The other knew he was a sinner.)
    The sinner said to the ‘good fellow’, “If you can get through the Lord’s Prayer without thinking about something else, I’ll give you my horse.”

    The pretty good fellow said, “Piece of cake” and started, Our Father who art in heaven…
    will you give me the saddle, too?”

  19. @John Rixe #20

    I think the terms might be better described as, “Confessor and Receiver.”

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