One of the heated topics of discussion in church circles seems to be the issue of whether to hold to traditional worship or adopt the newer contemporary style of worship. The motive for change sometimes is prompted by the thinking that newer is better. Some may point out that we live in a different cultural context than our parents and grandparents did, so we have to adjust our church worship to meet the desires of that new generation. I understand that to some degree, but I wonder if in the process we have lost something along the way.
A friend and I have been influenced to take another look at some of the ‘old ways’ along the more liturgical style of worship. I have to admit that based on my traditional Southern Baptist upbringing, liturgy is not high on my list of church practices. I have over the past few days taken a fresh look at the benefits of some of those older traditions. I am a firm believer that traditions and rituals that have lost their meaning should be revisited and reevaluated as to their spiritual significance. Those rituals that do not have their basis in Scripture should be modified or removed. Rituals and traditions themselves however are not wrong. They can have a great ability to communicate Christian teachings across the generations. They can help us keep a connection with our past. We are the church across the ages not just the church of here and now.
We have a tendency to go with the newest fad. But latetly I have become interested in discovering the traditions and ways of the early church. If any of the Apostles were to step foot in our churches today, would they be able to identify that it was the Father’s House? I have seen some shocking displays of so-called Christian worship that verged on heresy all in an appeal to being relevant to this new generation. I am not trying to come across as legalistic in any way. I am simply interested in whether we are still mantaining a connection to the past. Maybe progress is not always in the forward motion but maybe by looking backwards a little we may continue to move forward in a way that honors the intent of God for His people.
I believe we are always trying to be relevant and make the church relevant to this new generation. My question is whether the teachings in Scripture still apply to this new generation and if so, they are already relevant. We don’t have to try and make God fit into this cultural context.
Now saying that, I am not meaning that we should only sing hymns and recite responsive readings in worship. I myself sing in a contemporary Christian band and believe I can worship truly through that form of worship. But I also think that we have sometimes too quickly removed emphasis on such things as the Lord’s Supper and Baptism. Balance is the key. A balance to the past, present, and future. I believe we can learn from each of these.
Just my thoughts. What are yours?