Challenges Facing Worship Renewalists

Source: The Complete Library of Christian Worship, Robert E. Webber, General Editor

The renewal of worship in the local church faces major challenges. These 12 entries examine some of the obstacles to worship renewal. If one is to facilitate effectively such renewal, he or she should be familiar with the problems that must be isolated and resolved.

Lack Of Concern For Worship Renewal

For many church leaders, the renewal of worship is simply not a priority. Many churches seem content to pursue "business as usual," and pastors often yield to the tendency to elevate the sermon above corporate worship.

Contempt For Praise Of God

The pluralism that characterizes modern Western culture threatens the activity of praising God. Those who engage in praise are made to feel as if they are out of date and out of touch with reality. However, a life of praise is the best counterattack to the pressures of a pluralistic society.

Substitutes For Worship

Because church leaders have, for the most part, lost the understanding of biblical and historic worship, they have created and imposed upon their congregations a variety of worship substitutes.

Misplaced Priority In Worship

In many liturgical congregations, the church is viewed as an organization that exists for the liturgy. This author, writing from the perspective of the Orthodox tradition, offers a reminder that worship does not exist for its own sake, but as an expression of the reality of the church in relation to the world. His insights are useful to Christians of other traditions.

Corruption Of Worship By Manipulation And Utilitarianism

Worship is sometimes used as a tool for the manipulation of human experience. The true function of worship is not to lead people through a sequence of emotional states, to effect their behavioral change, or to promote programs or special emphases of the church or denomination. Rather, the purpose of worship is to glorify God in the world.

Mceucharist: The Allure Of “fast-food” Worship

In their concern to reach as many people as possible with the gospel of Christ, church leaders often try to make the worship service as attractive as possible for the unchurched. When worship planning is "consumer-driven," however, serious abuses of true worship may result. The author of this entry raises some thoughtful questions about the "fast-food" approach to worship.

Corruption Of Worship By Aestheticism

Because worship reveals both the terrifying power of God and his awesome mystery, it cannot always be aesthetically pleasing. Worship is a rehearsal of God's saving acts in history. Art and beauty may serve it, but must never dominate.

The Problem Of Form And Language

If worship is to impact the entire person, its forms and language must transcend words, engaging not only the worshiper's body but also his or her emotions and imagination. These forms should be appropriate to the majesty of God, not so familiar as to be mundane nor so unfamiliar as to be irrelevant to the worshiper.

Areas Of Challenge In Free-church Worship

Worship renewalists of the free-church tradition face the difficult task of changing their congregations' understanding of worship in a number of key areas. Unhealthy practices present a challenge for those who would restore a more biblical and historic perspective to the worship of these churches.

Areas Of Challenge In Liturgical Worship

Renewal needs in liturgical churches include increased attention to planning and integrating all parts of the worship service, an understanding of the importance of music ministry, and greater participation by the congregation.

The Need For Redefining Worship In Charismatic Churches

The charismatic movement has brought about a change in the worship in many traditional churches. Charismatics, in turn, are being influenced by traditional liturgical forms. Together, Christians of charismatic and liturgical traditions are discovering that biblical worship provides an answer to the epidemic of emptiness that plagues our generation.

The Need To Recover Celebration

People of Western culture have largely lost their ability to celebrate. Festivity and celebration link people to their heritage and place in the cosmos while supplying meaning and validity to life.