When some people find out that NewLifeSundayNight incorporates elements from the historic liturgy and many prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, they can’t help but insinuate that I’m just “swinging the pendulum” away from “contemporary worship” or reacting to my years as a “modern rock” worship leader as they reacted to their years of growing up with “traditional worship.” Others ask what the big deal is. After all, God isn’t impressed with big words or old prayers, so just pray or sing from your heart, and you’ll be fine, right? (I actually responded at length to this question in a blog entitled, “Do the Words We Use in Worship and Prayer Really Matter?“) Others are drawn to it because it’s “nice to make something old new again.”
To be honest, this is far more meaningful to me than simply mixing “old stuff” and “new stuff.” It’s not just a matter of “stylistic preference.” And it’s not about “impressing God.” It’s about learning to worship in “spirit and in truth.” The uncomfortable truth is that “the way we worship and pray is the way we believe is the way we live” (or, in Latin, if you prefer: Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.)
This 5-minute clip is my response to two questions from The Worship Community related to the subject of the theological content of our worship services, the usefulness of historic liturgy, and the thoughtfulness required in leading worship:
Their questions to me were:
1. In your role, what do you believe are the core values for developing a healthy, wholehearted worshiping community? What are the greatest tensions and challenges you have faced, and what advice would you give for overcoming them?
2. In your view, is there a difference between theological-oriented worship and adoration-oriented worship? Are both necessary? Is one more important than the other?
In response, my questions for worship leaders are:
1. If someone were to get their view of God solely from the songs you’re singing this weekend, what would that “God” look like?
2. Who really “loses” when we’re sloppy about our songs and prayers in the name of sincerity and passion?