May 01, 2011

On the Theology of Our Worship Services When some people find out that NewLifeSundayNight incorporates elements from the historic liturgy and many prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, they can't help but insinuate that I'm just "swinging the pendulum" away from "contemporary worship," or reacting to my years as a "modern rock" worship leader as they reacted to their years of growing up with "traditional worship." Others ask what the big deal is. After all, God isn't impressed with big words or old prayers, so just pray or sing from your heart and you'll be fine, right? (I actually responded at length to this question in a blog entitled, "Do the Words We Use in Worship and Prayer Really Matter?") Others are drawn to it because it's "nice to make something old new again." To be honest, this is far more meaningful to me than simply mixing "old stuff" and "new stuff." It's not just a matter of "stylistic preference." And it's not about "impressing God." It's about learning to worship in "spirit and in truth." The uncomfortable truth is that "the way we worship and pray is the way we believe is the way we live" (or, in Latin, if you prefer: Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi.) This 5-minute clip is my response to two questions from The Worship Community related to the subject of the theological content of our worship services, the usefulness of historic liturgy, and the thoughtfulness required in leading worship: Their questions to me were: 1. In your role, what do you believe are the core values for developing a healthy, wholehearted worshiping community? What are the greatest tensions and challenges you have faced and what advice would you give for overcoming them? 2. In your view, is there a difference between theological oriented worship and adoration oriented worship? Are...
Letter to a 6-year Old Girl from God (Sort of...) A six-year-old Scottish girl named Lulu wrote a letter to God. It was brief but to the point: “To God, How did you get invented?” Lulu's father is not a believer, but sends Lulu to a Scottish Church primary ("elementary") school. Rather than ignoring her letter or choosing to answer it himself, Lulu's father sent her letter to various church leaders-- the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Presbyterians, who sent no reply;and the Scottish Catholics, who sent a theologically complex reply. Thankfully, he also sent it to the Archbishop of Canterbury (Anglican), Rowan Williams, who sent this sweet letter in reply: "Dear Lulu, Your dad has sent on your letter and asked if I have any answers. It’s a difficult one! But I think God might reply a bit like this – ‘Dear Lulu – Nobody invented me – but lots of people discovered me and were quite surprised. They discovered me when they looked round at the world and thought it was really beautiful or really mysterious and wondered where it came from. They discovered me when they were very very quiet on their own and felt a sort of peace and love they hadn’t expected. Then they invented ideas about me – some of them sensible and some of them not very sensible. From time to time I sent them some hints – specially in the life of Jesus – to help them get closer to what I’m really like. But there was nothing and nobody around before me to invent me. Rather like somebody who writes a story in a book, I started making up the story of the world and eventually invented human beings like you who could ask me awkward questions!’ And then he’d send you lots of love and sign off. I know he...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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