Grant Swank
February 4, 2011
The way to worship excellence
By Grant Swank

Those wanting the 'contemporary' worship set up their stage and chairs and equipment in the gym. Then after the worship, all that had to be taken down for the gym to return to a gym.

Those into traditional worship met in the strikingly magnificent sanctuary. There they sang from hymnals, prayed extemporaneously and listened to the sermon from the pulpit.

Others met earlier on Sunday morning to conduct a high-church liturgical hour replete with printed prayers and communion served at every gathering.

All this took place on one church-related college campus in New England .

I wondered how many of the students simply stayed in their beds on Sunday mornings rather than get caught in the tussle. I asked that question and found out that most of the college students stayed put under covers.

So what did all that disagreement accomplish concerning worship styles? Not much but further division.

Now those wanting the gym meeting space have imploded due to too much labor in setting up and taking down. Have they joined in at the college church sanctuary? Some. Not that many.

And what about the liturgical small group of a couple dozen? They continue to carry on.

The overall picture is very sad.

This business of worship tangles in hurting the witness of the biblical testimony. Yet it is taking place far and wide.

I found St. James Presbyterian Church in Truro , Nova Scotia , where they have created the blended worship. It is genuinely worshipful rather than some contrived agenda to please a segment of laypersons.

One actually does not exactly know what is going to take place on a Sunday morning. I understand that mainly the pastor and minister of music craft the order of worship week by week.

When my wife and I leave our US home for our Nova Scotia home, we walk into the St. James sanctuary prepared to be fed in our souls. We have never been disappointed.

On a Sunday the service may begin with a group of women walking forward, taking their places at sanctuary front, and then singing for us the opening anthem. Following that, the youth, gathered in the sanctuary front corner, proceed to play their guitars, violins, drums and keyboard with another musical special.

So follows the worship — singing from the hymnals as well as singing from the overhead projector, praying, hearing Scripture read from the reading lectern, a duet, and then the pastor's message.

The minister of music plays the keyboard, grand piano and organ at various times in the service. However, we worshipers never know when. It all appears spontaneous.

I have left the services feeling as if I have been to church, that the Spirit has enriched my soul and that the worship leaders have been divinely guided in the days preceding the Lord's Day.

In other words, I have come upon a church where creative worship is set before believers. It is masterful.

© Grant Swank

 

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Grant Swank

Joseph Grant Swank, Jr., is a pastor at New Hope Church in Windham, Maine... (more)

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