Great Stuff — Where’s the beef?

Found over on Pastoral Meanderings:

 

Holy-Eucharist-IconThough many of the recent worship battles have focused on style, style doesn’t really matter, said J. Daniel Day, retired senior professor of Christian preaching and worship at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, N.C., and author of the 2013 book Seeking the Face of God: Evangelical Worship Reconceived.

“Worship can be facilitated and used around any kind of style,” says Day, a former pastor of First Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C. The music and sanctuary decorations can be tailored to fit the tastes of the congregation. “But the question becomes … ‘where’s the beef?’”  By that, Day says he means the object of worship, which should be God. But over the centuries, the purpose of worship in many evangelical churches has been to attract and evangelize new members.

You who have read my blog for a while have not failed to miss my skepticism about the separation of style and substance and my disdain against those who say Lutheranism’s future lies in believing like Lutherans while worshiping like Evangelicals.  I have complained over and over again that people will not be satisfied by Lutheran wannabes who act like the people they are not in order to attract folks and about the whole idea and its presuppositions in making worship primarily an evangelistic venue.  Now, a Baptist is raising those very concerns.

Read more here. . .

“The gathering of the people becomes about the outsider rather than the community of faith,” Day said. “It becomes effort to evangelize rather than to worship.”  Another major shift away from historic Christian worship came even earlier, he added.  “The whole emphasis coming out of the Reformation was to convert worship into an educational experience,” Day said. “So you had these didactic, Calvinist lectures that became the models for today’s teaching sermons that go on for 45 minutes to an hour.”

At that point, churches ceased being places of worship. “The sanctuary becomes a lecture hall.”
Or they become entertainment centers, Day says, where worship is about “being impressed by the magnificence of the place, the costumes and the jumbo screens.”  Rather than just being an annoying difference of opinion with those who think differently, Day says these trends are damaging and contribute to the exodus of Millennials and others from American churches.

I can only assume that the good Baptist pastor who authored those words has been reading my blog:

“It’s really not about style, it’s about thinking intentionally about a seamless garment — a unity of word and deed in which all these things tie together,” Hatch says.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Great Stuff — Where’s the beef? — 7 Comments

  1. “Day says these trends are damaging and contribute to the exodus of Millennials and others from American churches.”

    I’ve been warning our congregations for years, that our younger generations are much more keen than they are given credit for. They live in an age where advertising is ridiculously grandiose, and fantasy/fiction is far more immersive (various video games, social networks, etc.,) than anything the Baby Boomer generation ever imagined.

    They are also very adept at picking out hypocrisy (acting like something you’re not) and vapidness (flash and bang with no enduring substance.) As churches become hypocritical and/or vapid, they become all the more disdained by Gen X and Millennial people, who see through it. I think this is why, if they haven’t checked out of Christianity all together, they are finding their way to historic churches where even if they don’t agree with everything they see, at least they see honesty and depth.

    If Lutherans are to survive as a distinguishable entity at all in the next millennium, they must depart from hypocrisy and vapidity, and return to their authentically catholic roots as Confessional Word and Sacrament Christians, where the Spirit alone converts the sinner through Christ’s Law and Gospel.

  2. Awesome post . Spot on!
    I can witness to everything you have said by my Free Methodist back ground . I have been Lutheran for 19 years. While I did become an avid and dedicated student of the Word in those years long ago, what I missed until the first time I sat in a pew at a Lutheran Divine Service; was that: Iwas actually there to “RECEIVE” from God.” Now I am free to serve my neighbor without striving and with out fear!

  3. “But over the centuries, the purpose of worship in many evangelical churches has been to attract and evangelize new members.”

    What is the purpose of the Sunday morning service?
    Is it to give something (worship, praise, song, etc.) to God?
    Is it (see Lorna #2) to receive something from God?
    Is it a place to bring people, who do not know Jesus, to met Him and begin to know His love and grace?
    Is the service meant for all people (Lutheran and non-Lutheran) or is it meant for only LCMS members?

    Help me to understand your thinking. Thanks

  4. jim :“But over the centuries, the purpose of worship in many evangelical churches has been to attract and evangelize new members.”
    What is the purpose of the Sunday morning service?Is it to give something (worship, praise, song, etc.) to God?Is it (see Lorna #2) to receive something from God?Is it a place to bring people, who do not know Jesus, to met Him and begin to know His love and grace?Is the service meant for all people (Lutheran and non-Lutheran) or is it meant for only LCMS members?
    Help me to understand your thinking. Thanks

    It’s in our confessions…so that we receive this faith God established the office of holy ministry. The Divine Service is meant for the forgiveness of sins.

  5. @Tim #4
    Help me to understand your thinking. Thanks

    Divine Service is meant for the care and feeding of the sheep, by the Shepherd.
    It is meant to teach the Word so that the members can explain/defend/talk about it as they go about their vocations. It is meant to give them what they need in their daily lives.

    Guests are welcome to observe/listen (although we might well go back to the habit of excusing them before the Sacrament) but the presence of guests should not alter the Service which is primarily for believers, as is the Sacrament.

    The point of having visitors is to let them hear the Word and if they are called, to take whatever steps are necessary for participation/membership. No bait and switch (somehow the “switch” never happens, except to the faithful who find themselves marginalized); no dog and pony show; no “new song that nobody knows”…

    That help you?

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