Worship and Congregational Vocation

1 Comment » Written on September 23rd, 2008     
Filed under: Articles, Missional, Style of Worship
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A newly posted article from the Alban Institute gets to the heart of a matter. If you believe weekend worship is linked to church growth and mission, has the power to attract or repel people and you dislike anything that smacks of customer service in worship, consider this thesis, given by Deborah Kapp:

Worship is one of the first experiences of a congregation that newcomers might have, and it therefore becomes an opportunity for the church to introduce itself to outsiders. When potential members or other visitors encounter a congregation in worship, they get a feel for who the congregation is, how adherents relate to one another, what some of the church programs are, and thus what it stands for. In repeated worship experiences, the contours of the congregation and its vocation become clearer and clearer.

Read the rest of Worship and Congregational Vocation. How do you feel about Deborah Kapp’s framework for this topic? How is it more or less helpful than others you’ve noticed? How do feel about discussions that wed worship with outcomes like church growth?

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One Response to “Worship and Congregational Vocation”

Paul on “worship” and the unbeliever in 1 Cor. 14:22-25 concludes thus: “As they (unbelievers) listen, their secret thoughts will be laid bare, and they will fall down on their knees and worship God, declaring, “God is really here among you.” So, worship and church growth seem to be dynamically connected at some level.

Knapp’s framework seems to be a way of understanding the ‘sociology’ of a congregation’s life and thus it’s ‘vocation’ or work. I’m not clear on how her framework speaks directly to the worship of the church in a given locale except as part of that congregations overall vocation. Is she giving a framework (rubric?) for shaping the liturgy? Or is she giving a means of making conscious those factors that interactively affect the unique shape of a given congregation?

I like Jenson’s “framework” which again isn’t anything innovative, but helps clarify what goes on in Christian worship: As I understand him, he contends that when the church gathers for worship she is enacting the gospel and in her gathered worship participants and guest/strangers encounter the true and real world of the new creation. This is an eschatological approach based on the reality of what worship in the Christian church is, the embodiment of Christ in his gathered body in a given place and time. Thus as those who are members of Christ and as new creation, what the church does in worship is indeed the only real world in this present age. The world outside the church is the old world- the world subject to death and thus no real world at all.

The richness or poverty of the liturgy is thus directly connected to how this enactment takes place form week to week…

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