It All Looks the Same – Some Choruses, a Pep-Talk, and an Offering, part 18 of 20

We need to get back to the first century church.” How many times have you heard that? Their point being that the 21st century church has lost its purity, focus, and way. What is interesting is that many who say this are the very ones pressing for a progressive and ever-evolving Sunday morning worship. In other words, the ones wanting us to look back and emulate are the very ones wanting us to press forward in ways of worship the church has never worshiped before. It seems to be a contradiction; they want the “old ways” but they are creating “new ways” instead.

It is safe to say that Sunday morning worship has changed more in the last forty years then it has the previous four-hundred. Worship practice, not denomination or theological distinctive, links or separates churches. In other words, fifty years ago, the First Lutheran or Presbyterian or Methodist Church in town worshiped like their Second, Third, and Fourth denominational namesake. That can longer be said. First Lutheran on Sunday mornings is just as likely to resemble First Assembly of God more than Second Lutheran across town. What a church believed used to determine their worship (liturgical form); it appears to matter far less now. Perhaps someone is saying “so what”; but it shows what we believe about God has been trumped by a worship style instead.

Here would be an interesting experiment: Blindfold “Dick and Jane Worshiper” and drop them into a church somewhere in town. When its over, keep them blindfolded and take them to another. Here is the hypothesis: Dick and Jane won’t be able to tell you the church they were in. They won’t be able to identify the theological differences between Church “A” and Church “B”. On paper, these two churches’ “Statements of Faith” are quite different; but because worship practice has become so congruent, they may ask, “Did you just spin us around and take us to the same church?” Dick and Jane won’t be able to tell you the name on the outside because on the inside, many churches look and sound alike.

What has driven so much worship change over the last generation? And why have so many churches settled on such a similar style and format of worship that so easily crosses denominational and theological lines? That’s for next time in a series critiquing worship where much of it can be characterized by the less-then-complimentary phrase: “Some Choruses, a Pep-talk, and an Offering.”

Pastor Rich Hamlin
March 3, 2011

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