Tim Keller's article, "Evangelistic Worship"(published in June of 2001) should be required reading for anyone who desires to think carefully about the intersection of historic liturgy and contemporary worship styles. Last week I shared the resources that Keller references in the article's footnotes. Today, I want to look at the content. Below is a summary of Keller's main points, followed by a detailed outline of the article.
Keller sees the following problems with the promotion of strictly contemporary worship:
- Some popular music has severe limitations for worship due to its sentimentality, lack of artistry, sameness, and individualism.
- When we ignore history and tradition we break our solidarity with Christians of the past.
- Worship that is strictly contemporary will quickly become dated.
KELLER SEES THE FOLLOWING PROBLEMS WITH THE PROMOTION OF STRICTLY traditional, historic WORSHIP:
- Historic worship advocates cannot really dodge the charge of cultural elitism.
- Proponents of historic worship must answer the question--whose history?
KELLER critiques contemporary worship and historic worship
and then proposes a solution:
Contemporary worship advocates consult:
- The Bible
- Contemporary culture
Historic worship advocates consult:
- The Bible
- Historic tradition
We forge worship best when we consult:
- The Bible
- The cultural context of our community
- The historic tradition of our church
KELLER labels his solution, Evangelistic Worship
- The Worship Wars
- Contemporary Worship: Plugging In?
- Historic Worship: Pulling Out?
- Bible, Tradition, Culture
- The Seeker-Sensitive Worship Movement
- It removed transcendence from its services by utilizing light, happy music and tone, complete accessibility of voice, using dramatic sketches that create a nightclub or TV-show atmosphere. But their [referring to a group of young pastors being interviewed] generations hunger for awe.
- It ditched connection to history and tradition and went completely contemporary in all cultural references, from sermon illustrations to antiseptic 'suburban mall/office building' setting. But their generations hunger for rootedness, and love a pastiche of ancient and modern.
- It emphasized polish and technical excellence and slick professionalism and management technique, while their generations hunger for authenticity and community rather than programs.
- It emphasized rationality and practical 'how-to' maps, while their generations hunger for narrative and the personal.
- A Solution: Evangelistic Worship
- Two models, with problems
- Theological basis
- Biblical cases: I Corinthians 14:24-25 and Acts 2
- Non-believers are expected to be present in Christian worship.
- Non-believers must find the praise of Christians to be comprehensible.
- Non-believers can fall under conviction and be converted through comprehensible worship.
- Three practical tasks
- Getting unbelievers into worship.
- Making worship comprehensible to unbelievers.
- Worship and preaching in the "vernacular."
- Explain the service as you go along.
- Directly address and welcome them.
- Quality aesthetics.
- Celebrate deeds of mercy and justice.
- Present the sacraments so as to make the gospel clear.
- Preach grace.
- Leading to commitment.
- During the service.
- After meetings.