Here’s a nice seven minute video that a friend sent me which I think nicely encapsulates some popular views of congregational sung worship. The three are:
- Worship as encounter. Good – affirms the sense in which God promises to be with his people as they gather, and the emotional encounter with truth and grace. These things should move us. Bad – has the potential to encourage a consumer mindset – ‘the worship didn’t really do anything for me so I’ll try that other place down the road.’ Also has the potential to be individualistic at the expense of the corporate sense of ‘singing to one another’ (see Colossians 3:16)
- Worship as formation. Good – recognises the way in which the performance of praise as a habit shapes our hearts and desires. Bad – can easily drift into language and practise which is insensitive and insensible to the outsider (see 1 Corinthians 14:23-25)
- Worship as mission. Good – keeps the church focused on her calling to reach others (see the 1 Cor 14 ref above). Keeps services accessible to anyone. Believes that outsiders might be impacted or attracted by our worship. Bad – has to potential to make the worship seeker driven, rather than seeker aware.
Glenn’s answer on the video is that we need to hold all three elements in appropriate tension, in line with the various instructions given in the Scriptures. What that looks like in practice requires a fair bit more thought, but they’re hopefully useful words to hang on to in our reflections about how we ‘do’ our sung worship – encounter, formation, mission.