I am in charge of the worship in a church whose worship "style" is decisively "contemporary." Congregational singing is accompanied by a guitar-driven "praise band" (drums, bass, guitars, piano/keyboard) and augmented by a choir and praise team (3-4 vocalists on individual mics). At the front of the sanctuary we have two large screens on which we digitally project lyrics, scripture readings, videos (for announcements and illustrations), images and graphics intended to reinforce the sermon theme or other elements of the service. The majority of the songs we sing have been published within the past decade.
Yet, our services incorporate aspects of fairly traditional/historical or even liturgical worship, although the congregation would not recognize them as such. While they may not flow in precisely the same order each week, we have identified some "essential elements" of worship which appear in every service: call to worship, welcome (including a few key announcements) and invocation, passing the peace, congregational singing (the so-called "worship set"), a time of prayer ("open altar") and communion led by the pastor, an offering, the sermon (including scripture reading), some type of response, the benediction and dismissal.
Last week I felt like a little kid on the first day of school. I had the unique joy of going back to school. I am working on a DMin at Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry. They bill themselves as "An Evangelical Seminary in the Anglican Tradition." Having spent the week immersed in the world of Anglicanism, I found myself reflecting quite a lot about the Anglican tradition and the Nazarene tradition.
At TSM, each day begins with Morning Prayer at 8:30 and Evening Prayer at 4:30. Eucharist is on Wednesday. This place is clearly Anglican. You can see it. You can feel it. You can hear it. The liturgy is unique. The vestments are unique. The whole thing is unique. It is a whole other world with a whole other ethos. From the Prayer that begins and ends the day, to the lectures throughout the day, the place oozes Anglicanism. There is absolutely no way a person could spend any time in this community and not sense the Anglicanism.
A friend of mine served a church in a rural area and was going to be gone on Christmas Eve. This created some problems, because for years this church had participated in a Christmas Eve Communion Service. With his absence, there were no ordained elders, district licensed pastors, or even local licensed pastors to stand in his place. Because of this, the churched struggled with what to do.
A. Not serve Communion
B. Serve communion but in violation of the manual and without the presence of clergy.
As he was sharing this, it got me thinking about our heritage. As a part of the camp meeting movement we inherited a lot of the frontier practices of early Methodism. We know that Wesley encouraged elders to celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day.
I found the following video and had to share it with you all. Ann Coulter describes her unique experience of growing up in the Church. Take a look:
All of that explanation and description of different experiences and traditions culminating in 'We don't have to go to church!' Hmmm. What does Coulter's experience reveal about what people may ultimately think about Church? It seems to me that she projects the idea that Church doesn't matter. What matters is that Jesus died for our sins.
Being a blog that is dedicated to worship and the Church, how do we respond to this? How do we respond to people who say, 'Church doesn't matter'?