Pity the poor parish vicar. They face many dilemmas. Like, how can they facilitate the 1662 traditionalist, the evangelical traditionalist and the Holy Spirit-hungry innovators? Ten or 20 years ago, the vicar may have thought of himself as a charismatic Anglican, a minority in a cosmopolitan denomination. Because the evangelicals, of whom the charismatics are a subgroup, have come to be the main providers of ministry candidates and found a new confidence, this same vicar may now think of himself as an Anglican charismatic.
He or she may be sneaking in times of worship or opportunities to exercise spiritual gifts, and wanting to give equal weight to both form and freedom. (...)

"Art, creativity, and expression are all valid in the eyes of the Lord. There has been a chasm created between the artistic community and church leadership that needs to be bridged. Both sides need to lay down their defenses and come together to talk, pray, and search the scriptures in order to create an arena of safety. When there is safety, nurturing can take place. As a parent, I need to let my children know that they are safe so that I can nurture and raise them in the ways of the Lord. So it is with our artists. (...)"

For years I served on the staff of a megachurch with a very contemporary style of worship. We had a state-of-the-art sound system, large video projection screens, pop-rock music, and a sophisticated lighting system. The worship services were programmed to the minute: predetermined transitions, upbeat intro songs, announcements backed with PowerPoint slides, sermons crafted with felt-need application points, and abundant video clips.

The church was growing as several thousand people connected with the presentations each week. But at the same time the church was thriving with one generation, I began to notice that younger adults were not engaging as well as their parents. So I began listening to these young people to discover why they were not resonating with this way of doing church.

The common misperception is that if something works for a while, it will work forever.

This is commonplace in the Church because when we see with our God given eyes, a person go from lost, without the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, to a fully devoted follower of Christ, we become attached to our practices. We become blinded by the joy that we feel in that moment. And although the moment is celebrated by angels surrounding the Lord himself, I’m sure even the angels know that things have to change in order to keep reaching the lost.

It can be so easy to get caught up in sounds, gear, and creative excellence, all of which, I believe, are important and worthy investments. The danger, though, is that we miss the real point of worship and get distracted by lesser things. Worship is an invitation to participate with Christ in thanksgiving to the Father in the power of the Spirit. We cannot worship without the Holy Spirit. Philippians 3:3 reminds us that it is "we who worship by the Spirit of God" (NIV). On this theme John Stott writes, "What we need is not more learning, not more eloquence, not more persuasion, not more organization, but more power from the Holy Spirit."

© G. Baltes / T. Schröder

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