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Wolfgang on Worship

21 November, 2003 6:08 AM

"The image of much contemporary christianity could be summarized as holy people coming regularly to a holy place on a holy day at a holy hour to participate in a holy ritual led by a holy man dressed in holy clothes for a holy fee. Since this regular performance-oriented enterprise called 'worship service' requires a lot of organizational talent and administrative bureaucracy, formalized and institutionalized patterns developed quickly into rigid traditions. Statistically, a traditional one or two hour 'worship service' is very resource hungry but produces very little fruit in terms of discipling people, i.e. in changing their lives. Economically, it is a 'high input, low output' structure. Traditionally, the desire to worship 'in the right way' has led to much deominationalism, confessionalism and nominalism. This not only ignores the fact that Christians are called to worship 'in spirit and in truth', rather than in cathedrals holding songbooks. It also ignores the fact that mots of life is informal, and so too is Christianity as 'the Way of Life'. Do we need to change from being powerful actors and start acting powerfully?"

Wolfgang Simson - Houses that Change the World



Wow, is that quote ever spot on! Now I want to read that book more then ever! Thanks Darren!

Rich » 21 November, 2003 8:35 AM

Very very true. Thanks for posting that....

Paul » 21 November, 2003 10:59 AM

Sounds to me like a cynical overreaction to performance-oriented gatherings. I would say that bringing some organization to worship and giving God an excellent expression of praise is radically beneficial to the process of discipleship and the prospect of interior growth.

GBurnett » 21 November, 2003 4:25 PM

"This not only ignores the fact that Christians are called to worship 'in spirit and in truth', rather than in cathedrals holding songbooks."

Ah. Yes. The ever popular false dichotomy. As if cathedrals, liturgy, candles, and incense *automatically* create false worship!

This is why for the Orthodox our worship is "informal formality".... it is the best of both worlds: It is kind of liking eating a fancy meal with close family. Yes, the nice tablecloth is out; yes, the candles are lit and the wine is poured. But rather than makes us "nominal" it allows us to approach God as he is--both as our Friend who invites us to the table and our God who is worthy of reverence.

When will we realize that the answers to our problems in contemporary Christianity is embracing both parts of the paradox in front of us?

Karl Thienes » 21 November, 2003 5:40 PM

Coming together to worship is strongly recommended... okay, commanded... in the New Testament. Little else about the way we conduct our worship services is, except that they be done decently and in order. I think far too often we place too much emphasis on the worship service itself (and by that I mean the traditional Sunday service, etc), when in fact the worship service can be little more then a jumping off place--and hopefully is a great jumping off place--for true discipleship. If the "traditional" service works, then great. If not, change it.

What matters is that people's lives are affected (refer back to the quote Darren posted) because that is, after all, what we were commanded to do: go and make disciples, not figure out new liturgies... The liturgy is a tool.

Anna » 21 November, 2003 6:42 PM

The Sunday Liturgy is only the apex, the culmination of our worship. The weekly cyle of vespers services point us to the coming Sunday feast....our daily rule of prayer grounds us in the Scripture and illumines our corporate worship....regular fasting, and confession and spiritual guidance from our spiritual father organically feeds our ability to enter into Sunday worship....Etc.

The idea that what happens for a couple of hours on Sunday morning must be divorced from the rest of our life, or in some ways detracts from our spiritual life is a very foriegn concept to us!

Karl Thienes » 22 November, 2003 4:09 AM

Amen!!! Mr. Simpson. Something has gone terribly wrong when we worship worship and when worship lasts an hour and the Word is talked about for only five minutes.


B. Rouse » 22 November, 2003 2:02 PM

This quote reminds me: The Briefing recently did a 3-part series on church, worship and the like. Unfortunately, it's not online and I've only read the 3rd part of it, but there was some interesting stuff. The thrust seemed to be (like I said, I've only read the 3rd part) that the purpose of 'church' was edification and that worship was what you did with your whole life. There was also a little section on ideas for different ways of 'doing church', some of which seemed to have emerging-church-esque form.

zoe » 22 November, 2003 2:25 PM

i think this is getting at an identity crisis in protestant church services. what are they for? are they relational, a time of edification, of mutual encouragement, exhortation, rebuking, intercession, etc. are these the daily gatherings of the early church, gatherings devoted to prayer and the apostles' teaching?

or are they a communal time of worship; a time focused not on ourselves, but on God; a gathering similar to worship at the temple, ritual performed in each other's presense, but not explicitly for or to each other.

if a gathering is to serve somehow serve both purposes, is this being communicated clearly?

(btw, i linked to the post)

Cory Aldrich » 27 November, 2003 8:18 AM

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