A Neo-Liturgical Convergence
At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post called “A New Liturgy.” It was both a condensed version of my own journey of discovering the beauty and mystery of liturgical worship, as well as a review of Aaron Niequist’s new musical experiment. According to Google Analytics, it was the top post of this blog’s year. Interesting.
Since writing that post, I’ve learned so much more about why the Liturgy draws me into a deeper communion with Jesus and the mystery of the Trinity that is to be enjoyed and shared with others! I’d love to share all that, but honestly, it’s still hard to put into words. Perhaps words are simply inadequate, and it is just better experienced than talked about. Still, here is an fascinating revelation I saw the other day.
Tim Keller’s “Center Church”
I’ve been skimming through Tim Keller’s new textbook on church culture. Here are a few of his general observations on today’s worship culture that stuck out at me.
• Classical music and liturgy appeal to the educated. “High” cultural forms are those that, by definition, require training to appreciate.
• Contemporary praise/worship approaches are far more likely to bring together a diversity of racial groups.
• Young professional Anglos, especially of the more artistic bent, are highly attracted to the convergence of liturgical/historical with eclectic musical forms.
• Baby boomer families are highly attracted to seeker-sensitve worship and the more ahistorical, sentimental Christian contemporary songs.
Check out this graph by Keller:
(graph from Tim Keller’s “Center Church”)
Interesting, huh? Yeah, I thought so, too.
I realize that not every church is going to fit neatly into one category, but still, Keller pretty much nails it, in my opinion. It really gives us a big picture perspective on the various expressions and diversity of today’s Church. If you look closely, you can see how Christ is manifesting Himself to us in so many ways! He meets us in the physical…in our minds…emotions…songs…stories…art…in our practical everyday living…and even in our mystical imaginations!
For our visual worship tribe, I think all of this can greatly inform us on how we choose our visuals, just like our music. After all, we talk a lot about “knowing your people.” So much to unpack here! Wow.
Keller goes on to write:
“As you design your worship, you cannot naively assume you are ‘just being biblical’ about many things that are actually cultural and personal preferences. Think of who is in your community and skew your worship service toward them in all the places where your biblical theology and historic tradition leave you freedom.”
This statement definitely grounds me, as I can easily let my preferences and own cultural worldview dictate what is better, stronger and more “right,” especially for everyone else. And that’s not good for anyone. However…
…the third column interests me greatly!!! The ancient approach of musically and visually designing a worship service as a story … this puts wind in my sails!
These days, I’m talking to more and more worship leaders who are interested in not only the music of our worship, but also the form of our services & liturgies. And I bet more of us are more “mystical” than we care to admit, too! Our culture is evolving, so if you want a heads-up on what’s “coming next” in the world of worship (at least for some of us), then pay close attention to the third column. ;-)
Perhaps we are in the midst of a “Liturgical Reformation” of sorts. And if so, it’s going to have a soundtrack.
read more about today’s church culture in Tim Keller’s “Center Church.”