Eight Values Found In Today’s Worship Expressions

Train Your Worship Teams Forums Worship Values Group Eight Values Found In Today’s Worship Expressions

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    Dan Wilt

    Having glanced at the basic theological nature of worship, we turn the page to reflect on the basic values that have guided worship on its path through the late 20th and early 21st century. Reflect back on the scriptures, and on our basic biblical theology of worship to date, evaluating if these values are resonant with our understandings of the nature of God, of human beings, and of worship.
    In the book Perspectives On Worship: Five Views, published by Broadman Holman Publishers, I co-authored with a variety of worship voices from various traditions. Each of the authors was to represent their own tradition with a convincing case as to why the particular languages and forms of worship had merit in the overall body of worship work of the Church. While I elaborate on these differently in our Essentials Green module, the following seven values rise to the fore when faced with the kind of worship theology that we have just explored.
    1. Cultural Relevance
    We are welcome to express worship in ways that are true to the culture of our age, while discerning and course-correcting their efficacy in building the spiritual health of the Church.
    2. Integrity
    We are called to advance the call to worship in the world by living out the words of the songs we sing, the themes of the bread we break, and the overall message that is remembered and reclaimed in every worship setting.
    3. Holism
    We advance the idea that worship is not an activity only connected with an invisible world with which are attempting to “make contact.” Rather, worship is about doing justice, loving our neighbor and engaging with the vulnerable and broken in society with a view to bring new creation’s balm to its wounds.
    4. Immanence
    In the form and content of our worship, we call worshippers to reverence, but not simply to a distant God who is somehow disconnected from their daily experience. We say “God is near, immanent, close and His Kingdom is within reach as we worship.” We refuse to distance ourselves from the God who has so powerfully drawn near to His human creation – we respond by drawing near to the God who draws near.
    5. Incarnational Spirituality
    We embody our spirituality, deciding and perpetuating the call to worship in spirit and in truth by living what we sing and say we believe. We are not people who worship by simply raising our hands and closing our eyes – we are committed to a spiritual formation into the likeness of Christ that evidences that we are actually following Jesus, and not just singing about the notion of doing so.
    6. Simplicity
    We feel no need to complicate every song and every expression of worship simply for the sake of some elusive language of “adding depth” or “engaging the intellect.” In the Benedictine tradition of lection divina, we often linger over important phrases and ideas, with simple words and melodies, to allow the worshipper to engage with deep theological truths that are intended to change their lives. Neither the intellectual complexity, nor the emotional simplicity, of a song is the issue for us. The issue is found in the asking of a simple question – “Is this moment an opportunity for God to transform our minds and hearts to fulfill His design for us, and to welcome us to a richer, deeper understanding of Himself?” Having asked that question, simplicity and complexity become options for our best creativity in expressing worship in all of its possible ways.
    7. Diversity
    We recognize that covenant people of all tribes, nations and languages (and therefore music styles, ways of storytelling, symbolizing and engaging the human experience) are all invited to the feast of worship. For this reason, we do not define worship according to only one ethnicities expression. Rather, we embrace that colorful tapestry of worship life that flows from the Body of Christ across time and locale.
    8. Unity
    We value the unity that can only truly occur when we ultimately defer our lives to the God of all. Unity, because of God’s saving, restoring approach to us, is found among all peoples and denominations that value the part we have to play in God’s story. We are ambassadors of new creation and the coming Kingdom in the now, in the moment, and we rise together to sing, to pray, to act and to impact society from this common mission.

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