Monday, October 30, 2006

What Will the Church Look Like in Fifty Years?--Worship

In fifty years, the worship practices of the church will be all over the map--just like today! The good news is that people will still be assembling together for worship. The "virtual church" is an interesting idea, but it will not take the place of believers coming together in one place to do "the work of the people"--worshipping God. The good news is that those who plan worship will be comfortable drawing on all the many facets of the Christian tradition to do worship.

Music is always the big issue when we talk about worship. I think we will see less "contemporary" music and more music that draws on scripture (such as the Taize tradition), chants, classical music, and traditional hymns. This goes along with a general trend among young adults today to embrace mystery and transcendence in worship.

This also means more art, more candles, and--generally-a more experiential and participative approach to worship. The Eucharist--communion, Lord's supper--will be even more crucial to worship than it is today in many of our (Baptist) churches. In fact, many churches will observe the ordinance weekly.

What about preaching? Yes, the proclamation of the Word will still be vital to worship. Although in some cases it will be supplemented by visuals, I believe that the current resurgence in the oral tradition--especially story-telling--will continue. Media may enhance the presentation of the Word, but effective preaching and teaching will still rest upon the spoken word with clear explanation and appropriate application. We will probably even use more scripture in worship than we tend to do today--reading the text, listening to others read the text, and meditating on the text.

I think we will also see more opportunity for worshippers to share their own stories and to be involved in a dialogue with the preacher/teacher. This goes along with the participative nature of worship.

Worship will continue to be the "front door" of the church for most people, but many will come just to observe and learn about the Christian faith as expressed in worship.

3 comments:

Dr. Danny Chisholm said...

As much as you hear about contemporary music, it was surprising to meet someone in his 30s who enjoyed the hymns. And he is not alone. Apparently, there are those who are new parents who want their children to have a similar kind of church experience to their own. I agree with the element of mystery, and unfortunately churches may not equipped to deliver. This is a challenge.

Ircel said...

I know a new church that started with contemporary music and still considers its worship contemporary (they use projected words,too) but they started a series of classes for the kids to learn hymns! At the end of the course, they give each one a hymnal to take home.

Dr. Danny Chisholm said...

There is a discussion on this topic at baptistlife.com. I don't know if you've registered there but it's worth looking at. i saw your blog among them anyway.