What do you want to Emerge?

So, I’ve just finished posting to Derek’s entry about worship, and I feel like I’m pretty much done saying what I wanted to say, and I also feel like I understand where other posters are coming from.

What I’m interested in is this: there is agreement from the “worshippers” and “non-worshippers” alike that worship is unsatisfactory as it is generally experienced. I am wondering what would be more satisfactory?

Basically, I understand that there is a critique which says “worship should be better, different, but still worship and still central to Christian life” (mine, Aric’s for example) and a critique which says “worship should be replaced, and/or should no longer be as central to Christian life” (what I take Nick, Derrick, others to be saying).

What I’m really honestly curious about is – what is the replacement? What do we do instead? How do we meet God outside of worship? How do you get new people to do whatever this is? How do you teach it, explain it, etc.?

Secondly, what about this new activity is special (if anything)? That is, why would someone prefer to encounter Christianity/Christ in this way? The claim that I make is that God is present in a special way in worship – either because God really is presend in a special way, or because we seek to experience God in a special way there, since there’s no way to tell the difference without a God-o-meter. I say this because 1) I’ve never met anyone who acts like they are always experiencing God in exactly the same way or to the same degree and 2) I experience God in different ways and in different degrees in different situations and finally 3) in the Bible God seems to be present in special ways in certain circumstances – places, events, experiences (the Temple, the burning bush, Jacob’s wrestler, prophetic visions, Mount Horeb and Sinai, etc.) Is this inappropriate? More generally bad?

So, anyway, that’s the question. What do we do instead? (What is better worship, or what is better than worship?)

7 thoughts on “What do you want to Emerge?

  1. Let me say a few things up front. First off, my name is spelled DERRICK, you know, like the oil rig. (Doug and I have been joking about this for a week now) Secondly, I don’t want to start getting the reputation of anti-worship guy. I am pro-worship. I do it all the time. Sometimes, I even like it. Okay, with those things out of the way, let me throw out a what I think might be a valid hypothesis. I think the thing that sometimes replaces worship, but often enhances worship is community. Genuine community, not just the “see you next Sunday” variety of community that most churches have. Community draws us together in worship around our common goal of glorifying and experiencing God. The hard thing about community is that once it is established, it is hard to invite new folks in. That’s usually when you see a church stagnate. Sometimes communities need to be fluid. People come in and out for seasons. That’s hard, but I think we need to invite people into community before we invite them into worship. That’s not necessarily mutually exclusive, but I think sometimes it needs to be. Community and community-building gives people a sense of purpose and belonging. It gives them a sense of being loved instead of just a doctrine that says they are loved. when I talked in my original post about us being “worship-centered” I meant that we are focused on the rites and rituals (which we need, to some extent) without being focused on the fact that in corporate worship we worship God as a community, not a bunch of individuals. Good community can happen regardless of worship styles. in conclusion, I’m not anti-worship. Worship is indeed central to the Christian life. I just think community is central-er.

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  2. ok, cool, i see what you’re saying and basically agree, but i want to push you a little. how is that community to be expressed if not in worship? that is, when you invite someone into community, what do you *do* with them? do they join some other communal activity that isn’t worship? if so, what is it? do you invite them out for beers? if so, how do you seperate that from a church-clique organized around some activity?given that worship, as the church is lived right now, is the biggest and most communal event in a church community’s life, how do we replace it with other community-building activities while still involving everyone?would we move toward a home-church model, where the community doesn’t get larger than can meet in someone’s home? in that case, i think you might lose some sense of the broader community (communion of saints, etc.) and it will also be harder to organize on a macro-level for things like social justice or social policy (not that we do a good job now, but…)

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  3. I’m of the opinion, with you, that worship ought to be better, not replaced, but by that I don’t primarily mean that the Organ should be louder or the vestments more ornate or the sermons cleverer etc… Nor do I really mean that the structure of worship itself necessarily needs to change dramatically (although I think it might be a good idea)… what I mean by BETTER is really a shift in expectations for what worship is about. Primarily I see and hear people treating worship as though it was something we did for ourselves – to be addressed by God in the proclamation, to get our batteries recharged for the week of work etc… in other words it is all focused as though our lives were really ABOUT everything else and worship was supposed to support us in that other stuff. I’m saying it’s the other way around. We are created to worship! And yes, with Derek and St. Francis and others I agree that everything we do should be done “worshipfully”, but there is still a special place reserved for the worship gathering because we do experience Christ there in a special way. Given the shift in focus I think that lots of things about worship could and should change – we should expect “miraculous intervention” whatever that looks like to be a regular part of it. It should be a priority – so it would probably be longer. It is a joy so it should be more like a party and less like a funeral etc… It needs time for us to be both addressed by God (in the proclamation) and to address God in praise and thanksgiving.

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  4. Ok. I also want to put some stake in the fact that I’m not anti-worship…although I’m probably the most disillusioned of the bunch. I don’t really want to see a replacement for worship, as I think the community can participate in communal worship in a very meaningful way. As we’ve been reading in Theology this semester worship shouldn’t be about refueling of the other six days of the week, but needs to be a celebration within our community. I do think that the “community” thing has become a buzz word and is a bit stretched to try to include everyone and everything. I don’t think you just throw a group of people in a room and don’t let them out till they “love” each other and call that community.I think the way that community is talked about is so <>inward<> which has some value but is overexagerated. I think that without looking at what kind of difference we can make in individual lives and the world…than what value can we provide? Is the church any different that the lion’s club meeting?For me Christian community is formed when a group of people pull together towards a common purpose or mission in the world. We need to unite people and God in such a way that it motivates them to help issue in the Kingdom of God. So in my humble opinion, I think that community-building happes when you gain that sense of common purpose and belonging.anyways. my 2 cents.

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  5. I agree with Nick’s definition of community. In addition I would add that this community should be a worshipping community, but not limited to Sunday. Worship need not be a long, formal affair. It can be small and intimate and based on the needs and/or joys of the day. I would add that community is expressed in life lived together. All of life. Eating, drinking, childr-rearing, study, worship, mourning, etc…I would imagine we all know folks (outside of Trinity House) who live in some kind of Christ-centered intentional community. Perhaps you’ve even done it (Marnie and I did at the Pittsburgh Project). The joy of that is that all of life gets merge AND we worship together and we served together in mission. I really can’t say enough about that experience. It was hard and because of our cultural ideals of individualism and privacy, I’m not sure that I would want to do it again, but I do know that that was time when worship was the most meaning for me. It was the combination of worship, community, and service. I think this does call for limiting the size of church, and maybe even down to house church size. I think what could be really wonderful is if there were enough of these small cell churches in proximity of each other , they could meet in some larger location from time to time for the social justice type things or just for a larger worship gathering.

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  6. ok, cool, this gives me the feeling that i’m getting a better idea of what people are talking about. i’m also thinking about this, and i’ll probably put my answer as my next post, or a soon-to-come post, when i get a chance and i think i can lay out my thoughts clearly.one thing that occurs to me: Derrick, if you had intentional community but wouldn’t want to do it again, how do you think it will go over in the larger society? unfortunately, our lofty ideas have to also be viable to the average person, who has neither the interest nor the luxury to have conversations like these…

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