Worship style at New Life.
From where did the worship style of New Life Presbyterian Church come? I cannot honestly say. I am the new guy here having only been here 15 years as compared to those who have been here 25. However, I am the old guy here compared to the 4 new members who will be received this Sunday.
I do know the founding pastor has a passion for loving on the Lord God and a great reverence for God. He with those who founded new life were passionate in their worship and desired to communicate that to everyone who came and most especially to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This week’s scripture addresses the roots of the wars about worship styles that has haunted the broader church for its entire life. Romans 15:5-7 check it.
Recently a commentator wrote that there are always three thoughts about how the church worships.
First there is the idea that nothing should change since God is unchanging. Whatever style has been adopted the status quo must remain unchanged even if that status quo is to never to do the something twice. No moving off our adopted style.
The second thought is sometimes dubbed the “Conservative Christianity”. The idea is that we should be moving back to the styles of the past such as psalms only or traditional hymns, longer sermons less emotional display.
Lastly there is the thought that is always looking for something new with no boundaries.
Romans seems to say there is something more important that is to love or accept one another that our harmony, ( not uniformity ) might honor the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The means a diversity within a unity much like the trinity. In Worship this means blending worship styles while remain true to scripture as the final authority in worship as well as all of life. This treasures loving others above being comfortable in our style of worship. We seek to worship the Lord while being more concerned for others than ourselves. A certain style or song may move me much more than others. I am personally partial to “Almighty Fortress is Our God.” However, this may not strike another beside me. Whereas a brand new rendition of the heart of worship may speak powerful to my brother or sister in Christ. I may love the cerebral poetic hymn while my brother in the faith beside me may be moved to tears by the repetitive singing of Praise Him as in Psalm 118.
Romans 15 would not have us isolate ourselves in certain styles rather live in greatest love for each other as Christ has loved and accepted us.
I recently came across a outline of principles that have guided the worship of pastor John’s congregation for several decades. Here they are and I agree.
- God-centeredness. We put a high priority on the vertical focus of our Sunday morning service. The ultimate aim is to experience God in such a way that he is glorified in our affections.
- Expecting the powerful presence of God. We do not just direct ourselves toward him. We earnestly seek his drawing near according to the promise of James 4:8. We believe that in worship God draws near to us in power, and makes himself known and felt for our good and for the salvation of unbelievers in the midst.
- Bible-based and Bible-saturated. The content of our singing and praying and welcoming and preaching and poetry should always conform to the truth of Scripture. But more than that, the content of God’s Word should be woven through all we do in worship and will be the ground of all our appeal to authority.
- Head and heart. The elements of our worship service should aim at kindling and carrying deep, strong, real emotions toward God, especially joy, but should not manipulate people’s emotions by failing to appeal to clear thinking about spiritual things based on shareable evidences outside ourselves.
- Earnestness and intensity. We will try to avoid being a trite, flippant, superficial, or frivolous, but instead will aim to set an example of reverence and passion and wonder and broken-hearted joy.
- Authentic communication. We utterly renounce all sham, deceit, hypocrisy, pretense, affectation, and posturing. We do not pursue the atmosphere of artistic or oratorical performance, but the atmosphere of a radically personal encounter with God and truth.
- The manifestation of God and the common good. We expect and hope and pray (according to 1 Cor. 12:7) that our focus on the manifesting of God is good for people and that a spirit of love for each other is not incompatible with, but necessary to authentic worship.
- Undistracting excellence. We will try to sing and play and pray and preach in such a way that people’s attention will not be diverted from the substance by shoddy ministry nor by excessive finesse, elegance or refinement. Natural, undistracting excellence will let the truth and beauty of God shine through. We will invest in equipment good enough to be undistracting in transmitting heartfelt truth.
- The mingling of historic and contemporary music No church or service can be all things to all people. But we do not value stylistic narrowness. We believe there are affections owing to God that different tunes and different texts and different genres may awaken better than others. We will strive to be who we are without exalting our own tastes as the standard of excellence or power. We will see God’s guidance in each worship setting to be both indigenous and stretching.
- May God lead us into ways of worship that fit the uninterrupted and true historic witness of worshipping the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. May He even lead us into new styles of worship which by the Spirit meets the people God has called unto himself and given His only begotten son to save in our day and the next generation.