I work at a chemical plant right down the road from our house. I have never blogged about this before; but today I’m starting. Why? I saw a picture there of something that made me add this preface to the series Family Worship.
I was nearly done with an analysis when I realized the dangers of not fully defining the terms I sometimes take for granted. I have a goal in mind that this series of blogs will encourage and edify families to grow churches within the home and establish family worship.
The Problem of Clutter
Maybe you’re like one of my former superiors who shuts down at the mention of words like liturgy. Misinformation, ignorance, personal baggage. These are but a few of the numerous negative connotations we bring to these conversations.
So at Angus, I help erect scaffolds but here I am hoping and praying to help build up God’s body. One of my gifts is that I am a musician and so naturally I am prone to start with the arts in worship when looking for ways to serve God and His children. In this introduction I’m wanting to define the terms that might obstruct what is needed to properly discuss and/or construct worship, specifically family worship. So let’s clear some clutter.
Clearing the Clutter
Daily building scaffolds, I have observed an analogous lesson about communication. Sometimes the small messes that surround job sites create dangerous environments and therefore become more hazardous than the incredibly risky job itself. These conditions even compound with the existing unavoidable risks.
The true kicker in this whole predicament is that one may not even face these obvious risks of heights and so forth because of the whole issue of temporary, easily solved, often camouflaged, and over looked ground level issues. One might be convinced that working anywhere from 10-70 ft in the air while standing on a thin steel bar would hands down be more risky than simply climbing up the scaffold or even approaching the job site; but often we are far more alert to these types of risks and are therefore better prepared to control and eliminate them when possible. It is often the seemingly menial tasks that we tend to take advantage of without ever realizing our complacency.
So how do we apply housekeeping to all the varied details of Christian living? Specifically, how do we break through walls like lingo or “shop talk” to get to the heart of issues without misunderstanding the initial conversation starters. How do we avoid the unnecessary? We should try to clearly define as often as possible the major words and concepts we’re delving into, at the outset. There will be plenty of disagreement and disappointment as our convictions lead us to differing interpretations (of scripture) and decisions later on.
Sorry to go all “safety meeting” on you but I do see the benefit of taking seriously the idea of tailgate (pre-work) discussions and not just for construction. The church should be teaching and leading the rest of society in how to do this rather than vice versa. Just like little things aren’t noticed until it’s too late or there’s already been a tragedy in the workplace, this can be, but shouldn’t be true in God’s family, especially in the work of pulling together to pool resources, prayers, gifts, arts, hearts, and lives into shepherding faithfully and serving His flock. I am convinced that clear thinking grows out of and gives birth to clear communication.
Soon I will post my best attempt at a comparative analysis of two categories of LITURGY called CARTOGRAPHY and COVENANT RENEWAL. So before we get there, I need to define what I mean as we approach the subject up close and at an intentionally higher level.
What is liturgy and what is it not? Liturgy simply means order of worship.
Liturgy, while it could be, does not exclusively mean a strict adherence to a type of interplay between congregants and ministers. In other words, everyone who is involved in worship services on whatever side is involved in liturgy not just those who have a written order or those traditions in which rituals (by the way, this isn’t a curse word) of call and response are scattered throughout the service.
While I could continue with examples of what it isn’t, I believe instead it’s safer to say that everything is included under this heading. For a great resource on better understanding this, check out this book.
Like theology we are all involved in some form and practice of liturgy, if we are believers. It is important to have this framework for future reference, in order even to follow along. Liturgy isn’t a genre or a style it is the very order or the playing out of the experience of corporate worship.
What do you mean by cartography? What does mapmaking have to do with worship?
Quite a lot, in many circles. This is the mode that it is relatively young. Unlike the approaches of many mainline and older denominational churches, cartographical approaches often lean towards the unplanned, spontaneity, even impromptu riffing, an expectancy of importance on the personal with usually no call and response “written” into the ordeal.
Yes, this division is recognized among many and hinted at by even more but this is my own classification. As much as I am aware of, this is a new naming. The main distinction I will use to define this type of liturgy is the emphasis of location. These services are often built upon and follow the pattern of a road map or a blueprint. So that we send to be charting or journey and seeking new territory as a church.
The roadmap can be as simple as a verses and songs that does light on the current situation of the congregation’s life, a recognition of what God is saying prophetically at the moment and how that fits into where He is calling us. There is also often a marriage between sermon and song and a shaping of reach service to reflect a narrative, even in lighting and décor. Sometimes, unlike covenant renewal which seeks to tell the entire meta-narrative of the Bible, these may highlight are certain point along the way.
The blueprint I’m referring to is usually the pattern of the temple and priesthood duties played out in song selection. In other words, the call to worship would be described as entering the gates with thanksgiving and praise. Using the temple and tabernacle as symbolism for our methods of approach to God and his throne can also be taught and reflected through Covenant Renewal; but this symbolism is mostly championed especially in charismatic movements and denominations.
The roots in Continuationism (the belief that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still active in believers today) tend to yield fruit that is heavily prophetic. Since the starting point that this gift of prophecy is still alive is in place, the main thrust of the weekly gatherings are to seek what God is saying specifically to us, now. For more on this topic and how the book of Hebrews folks over the Old Testament in freaking with worship check out this video, as well other Derek Prince resources.
COVENANT RENEWAL Defined
The most clear explanation for this I can offer is a very articulate video of Doug Wilson, here.
He gives a succinct appraisal, history, summation, and defense for Covenant Renewal Worship, as well as, a few resources.
The 5 C’s of Covenant Renewal are:
1. Call to worship
I would unpack these but I can’t say it any better than the video states.
Even within churches that believe in and practice faithfully both of these convictions, there are times when they may apply both or abandon the primary method. The delineation between the two is meant to help us recognize a fundamental difference in the handling of scripture as it pertains to how to carry out worship gatherings.
It’s important that we all acknowledge that all Christian worshippers are saying this, “We see in scripture, an acceptable way to come to you in worship and we believe this is it.”
Now that we’ve established these classes of liturgies, let us each seek God on which and when should employ these structures of worship He has given us for our homes. Let us seek God on how to serve the servants in our midsts. Let us ask Him for His resurrection power to spur us to prayer for our ministers. Let us look, taste, sound, and smell like Him. Holy aroma, for His glory, filling His nostrils, the ones that give us the breath of life. In His perfect, unmatched, ever-famous name, Jesus. Amen!