Sunday, November 9, 2014

we would experience god in the everyday

I have been reading this book for a few days, and while some of it strikes me as very weak (both in writing and in theology), some, like the following, gives me hope. As someone who is, by virtue of working as a pastor to a community of teens who are both desperate for spirit and wary of it, trying actively to achieve a new type of worship service, this is good reading whose real life application is difficult to determine.
During the last few decades, there has been no small amount of controversy in Christian churches over worship style. As those who advocated for maintaining "traditional" worship and those preferring "contemporary" forms struggled against one another, many started referring to the conflict as the "worship wars." Churches within the emerging Christian faith, however, appear to be moving beyond the worship wars. They are discovering a "third way" in worship, one that cannot easily be categorized as either traditional or contemporary...The third way very much appears to be a dismantling of the Tradition for the purpose not of abandonment but of reerecting it in a new place...[They] refer to what they do as "ancient-future worship" or "emerged worship" or "experiential worship" or "incarnational worship...

Although incarnational worship takes a very wide variety of forms, several common threads hold it together. First, it is centered on experiencing God incarnate in everyday life more than learning about God...Rather, worship leaders start with the question, "How do people experience God as Creator in everyday life" The whole world then becomes a palate from which leaders work to open people up to experiencing God as Creator in worship. The idea is not to manufacture an experience but rather to open participants to the possibility of an experience. Incarnational worship operates on the assumption that God's Spirit really is alive and well in this world and will not hesitate to stir the soul if people's hearts are open and attentive...

Second, incarnational worship tends to be mediated through a wide variety of multisensory elements, which may range from quite ancient to postmodern. Participants are as likely to experience worship through smell, taste, and physical touch as they are through sight and sound...[Prayer] and contemplative forms of Scripture reading, such as lectio divina...may be interwoven with film clips, jazz or rock music, and hands-on artistic creation.

Emphasis on the arts and artistic expression, in fact, is a third unifying element... Practitioners...feel that worship should be as artistic as it is scripturally based...[Churches] of the emerging Christian faith [may] eventually [reclaim] the church's more ancient role of supporting the arts and artistic a new way.

Finally, incarnational worship is frequently created by clusters of people rather than by single individuals or pairs. Pastors work with a worship team made up of both clergy and laity for generating ideas, creating the service, and carrying it off. In this we may be seeing the Reformation principle of the Priesthood of All Believers practiced on a larger and deeper scale than it ever has been before.

--From The Phoenix Affirmations: A New Vision for the Future of Christianity by Eric Elnes

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