Archive for January, 2009

A Worship Conference that’s Close to Home

January 30, 2009

roberts_file2The conference, The Risen and Ascended King, may interest some people in our congregation.

Sola Scriptura Ministries International, the folks who are organizing the conference, are bringing in two outstanding speakers:

Michael Haykin (professor of History and Biblical Spirituality at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY). You can read some of his stuff here.

And Bruce Ware (professor of Christian Theology, also at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary). Some of his writings are posted here.

The conference will be held at Sovereign Grace Community Church, Sarnia, ON, March 27 to 28th, 2009.

If you’re interested in going, let me know.

Serve–Part One

January 30, 2009
tim-keller

Tim Keller

The word ‘missional’ has become very hip among Christians lately. Everyone who is anyone in the worldwide church seems to be using the term. But what, exactly, does it mean? Click here to learn more.

Tim Keller, who wrote the New York Times bestseller, The Reason for God, helps define the word missional. It’s about serving others with clear Christian motives.

His thoughts may give some shape to our own plans for the future as we consider how to serve others.

In our Annual Congregational Meeting, held on Sunday January 25, 2009, our congregation approved a motion to develop a plan for the future of our church. At the centre of the plan is a new way of organizing the life of the congregation. The plan emphasizes Worship, Groups, and Service.

In an earlier post, I began to discuss Worship, this post begins a discussion of Service. Tim Keller’s piece on The Missional Church is a fancy way of saying a church that serves others.

Christianity Today called Keller’s church ‘one of Manhattan’s most vital congregations’ (12/04). He has written several books, including Ministries of Mercy.

Evangelistic Worship–Part One

January 29, 2009
tim-keller-redeemer2

Worship at Redeemer, NYC

Yesterday I posted a link to an excellent article by Tim Keller, lead pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, who writes about evangelistic worship. It is worth reading his thought-provoking words on this important topic. You’ll find my thoughts below:

Contemporary Worship

Keller begins his article by looking at contemporary worship. In another blog, you can read my thoughts on what he has to say about what he calls historic worship (some would call it Traditional worship). Here’s my response to his points on contemporary worship:

First, says Keller, some of the music that is composed for contemporary worship actually does the opposite of its intended effect. Although the composers of contemporary worship music almost certainly hope to compose music that helps to facilitate worship, some current music chokes the life out of the spirit of worship. If contemporary worship music is shallow in its thoughts, sentimental in its feelings, clumsy in its poetry, or awkward in its melody then it will probably stand in the way of true worship. The congregation will focus on the poor quality of the song, rather than on the glory of God.

My thoughts: This criticism may also be applied to some historic hymns, too, if they are dull, dreary, or awkward. So, what is the point of any song that the congregation sings during the worship service? It has to help people worship the God they love.

Next, Keller notes that Christianity has an incredibly rich tradition which a church may lose contact with, if the congregation only sings current music. Keller observes, ‘Part of the richness of our identity as Christians is that we are saved into a historic people. An unwillingness to consult tradition is not in keeping with either Christian humility or Christian community. Nor is it a thoughtful response to the post-modern rootlessness which now leads so many to seek connection to ancient ways and peoples.’

My thoughts: This is a great point. The Church not only includes people from around the world, it also includes people from every period of time. Everyone who has responded to the Good News by receiving Christ as their Lord and Saviour is part of God’s immediate, adopted family. The hard truth is that current Christian music just on its own cannot possibly convey how large and rich and abundant the church is.

But let’s not forget the reverse. Historic hymns have similar restrictions because they, too, are bound to a specific time, place, and style—albeit their time is usually the period between 1650 and 1950; their place of origin is usually Europe or North America; and their style is often a mirror of the style of the culture at large of the period in which they were composed.

Finally, a worship service that is strictly contemporary will become dated pretty quickly. Besides, Keller asks, when Christians talk about the contemporary style, which one do they mean? Do they mean the ‘white, black, Latin, urban, suburban, boomer, or the Gen-X’ version of contemporary culture?

My Thoughts: Keller mentions that a church has to work especially hard if it makes contemporary music and dramatic arts the centre of their Sunday morning worship service. Port Elgin U.C. doesn’t currently put those things at the centre of its worship. Yes, our 9 AM service features contemporary music. But most of the songs are ‘standard’ now. Keller, I think, is speaking of churches that keep their music current, as in up-to-the-minute. So, I’m not sure that this point pertains to us.

Keller makes some good points in his assessment of contemporary worship. These are points to ponder as our congregation plans for the future. In Evangelistic Worship—Part Two, I’ll look at historic (traditional) worship.

Worship

January 28, 2009

p1000240Worship is at the very heart of the Christian church. On Sunday mornings, the people of God gather together to offer God their sacrifices of praise and adoration. Worship includes such elements as prayers, songs, scripture readings, and a sermon. How do we decide which elements to include and which to leave out?

Tim Keller, lead pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York, has written about worship in a way that puts the issues in perspective. Robert Godfrey also has some wise words on worship styles. For a list of resources on worship, click here.

Background to Protestant and Reformed Worship

There are two ways that Protestants have approached the problem. Lutherans and Anglicans have said that whatever the Bible does not forbid is okay in worship. This view is known as the normative principle.

Presbyterians and other Reformed denominations have said that only those elements that are expressly stated in Scripture should be included in worship. They call this the regulative principle because they believe that the Bible should be the principle that regulates the content of the worship service.

Children in Worship–Part One

January 28, 2009
Let them eat cake

Let them eat cake

Here is the best piece on why children should remain with their family, and the rest of the congregation, during the worship service on Sunday morning. It is written by Kim Riddlebarger, pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim, California, and visiting professor of systematic theology at Westminster Seminary California.

Folks in the pews of his church were wondering why noisy little munchkins were allowed to be in the worship service, so Rev. Riddlebarger offered this reply. It is worth reading.

The link is being made available on this blog because some people at our Annual Congregational Meeting for 2009 had some legitimate questions about children in worship. Why change a good thing? Why should children be subjected to the full worship service? Why not allow them to be in groups with other children of similar age and in a room other than the sanctuary where they can learn and worship according to their age and abilities?

Rev. Riddlebarger, who also co-hosts The White Horse Inn and runs The Riddleblog, explains with humour, compassion, and wisdom why children should remain in the sanctuary with the entire congregation.