How God preserves His church

We were on our own for several days in Copenhagen, so on Sunday we attended a service of the Church of Denmark.  Gabriel had invited us to a congregation in fellowship with the LCMS, but the service was at 4:30 p.m., and we had to meet up with our hosts around then.  We had earlier come across a magnificent church (“the Marble Church”) near the palace (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are all constitutional monarchies, like England).  We thought we would go to a service there.  So we set forth from our hotel for a trek of probably just over a mile or so.

When we saw it as tourists, we saw a sign that the building would be closed to the public during services, so we hoped that they would let us in.  We were graciously received by the usher.  There was a far bigger crowd than I was expecting, around 100 people.   We were given an English translation of the liturgy.  We could have probably followed it without the translation, since it was the basic service that we had in the United States.  The tunes of the hymns were some of the same that we sing.

There were certainly differences.  Pastors there wear a black gown with a cool 17th-century-style ruff.  There was no offering, since the government and church taxes support the churches financially.  (They did have a box that you could put coins in as you leave, which I think is an ancient practice, before the advent of pews and passing the plate.)  They also had no confession and absolution.  (I was told later that liberal congregations tend to leave out that part of the service, while conservative congregations retain it.  Later, in Norway, we went to an Inner Mission service, which did include the confession of sins, though not an absolution from the pastor.)  [Read more...]

Liturgy as a key to church growth?

More on young adults rejecting the church growth approach to worship and craving liturgy.   I don’t mean to harp on this topic, so tomorrow I’ll post something that questions this new traditionalism in worship, which is not always accompanied by traditionalism in theology. [Read more...]

Liturgical evangelicals

Many Lutherans have pretty much abandoned the historic liturgy to embrace evangelical worship styles.  And yet now, many evangelicals are embracing the historic liturgy.  In fact, liturgy may be the latest thing in “contemporary” worship.  If you don’t believe that, read the article from Christianity Today that I link to after the jump.

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Nonliturgical liturgy

All Christians, including “non-liturgical” Christians, worship with a liturgy, in the sense of a predictable order of worship that reflects their theology.  The key question is what the liturgy is and what it means.  A new book is out on this subject by Yale worship scholar Melanie Ross, Evangelical versus Liturgical?: Defying a Dichotomy.
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The Millennials’ longing for liturgy & sacraments

Congregations that want to attract the millennial generation are now being told to ditch their contemporary worship services and to bring back the historic liturgy.   Also, it turns out that young adults today have a “sacramental yearning.”  Church growth enthusiasts, take note. [Read more...]

Charismatic sacrament, charismatic liturgy

Charismatic Christians consider “praise and worship songs” to be, in effect, sacramental, bringing worshippers into the presence of God.  So observes Matthew Sigler, who supports this tradition.  Furthermore, he says, the music and other features of contemporary worship, as the Charismatics devised it, unfolds in a specific sequence according to a theological model.  That is (in my words), it is liturgical.  Problems come, he says, when non-Charismatic Christians lift this music and these worship practices outside of their original context, borrowing them while leaving behind the theology and “pneumatology” that goes with them.

So worship implies a theology, and theology is embodied in worship.  And you can’t just mix and match.  It’s illuminating to hear this from a Charismatic perspective.  And it is both illuminating and ironic to hear an advocate of  contemporary worship (because of his Charismatic theology) agree with us advocates of traditional liturgy (because of our Lutheran theology).  The link and an excerpt after the jump. [Read more...]