OPT: Slowing Down Worship

From the 2015 Candlelight Service at First Hamilton Christian Reformed Church.

From the 2015 Candlelight Service at First Hamilton Christian Reformed Church, Hamilton, ON. 

Over the past couple weeks, I have read several posts calling for a slower, more deliberate approach to worship. Chris Morton outlines a participatory approach to worship. Jonathan Aigner draws attention to how worship is something we do. Melissa Cain Travis observes a shift toward liturgy within protestant communities. This post on Other People’s Thought (OPT for short, see note below) highlights each of these three posts as potential resources for slowing down our communal worship.  Participatory Worship

Back in June 2015, Chris Morton posted an article, “10 Steps to Kill Your Church: Show & Create a Participatory Liturgy” over at the Fresh Expressions US site. Title aside, the post provides a helpful outline for approaching worship planning in more deliberate way. Contending that liturgy is  “A moment set aside to rehearse being disciples of Jesus together,” Morton provides a ten step guide to thoughtfully preparing a liturgy that promotes participation from those gathered for communal worship. I found the 10 steps to be quite accessible and helpful for outlining a process that brings greater cohesiveness to the worship gathering as a whole.

Countering an Entertained Culture

In November 2015, Jonathan Aigner posted on Patheos, arguing that “worship should be exceedingly boring.” Returning to Marva Dawn’s clarion call in A Royal Waste of Time, Aigner urges us to reject an entertainment approach to worship, embracing silence and practices of imagination as part of what we expect from worship participants. While not providing any radically new insights, he offers clear actions items that redirect worship planning efforts away from appeasing or entertaining the congregation. He ends with a call to remember what worship is about:  “The purpose is to recognize the splendor of our gracious God, the radical reality of God’s gracious acts in Jesus Christ, and to ultimately find our place in this crazy, beautiful story.”

Exploring Liturgical Traditions

Finally, the third post is one from December 2015 by Melissa Cain Travis. Outlining her own journey in exploring worship beyond her home tradition, she asks “Does it matter to God how we worship Him in the corporate and private setting?” Her response is an extended consideration of the role of ritual and liturgy facilitated through “mini-reviews” of several books written by evangelicals who have embraced a more liturgical or sacramental tradition.  The first of these reviews considers Robert Webber’s Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail. Her summary provides a helpful introduction into this fascinating conversation about how older traditions across Christianity have much to offer the evangelical church when it comes to robust worship practices that have shaped God’s people for centuries. The second “mini-review”, focusing on Peter Gillquist’s Becoming Orthodox, is posted as well.

* Note: OPT stands for Other People’s Thoughts. Occasionally, I post a few brief summaries and links to what others have been writing. Thus, the emphasis of these posts is not on my thoughts, but on highlighting insights from others that have recently caught my attention.


1 Comment

Filed under Other People's Thoughts, worship

One response to “OPT: Slowing Down Worship

  1. I like your review style, Chris. Very authentic :). Would love to feature your reviews in our weekly curated email digest that goes out to thousands of people.

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