Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Worship Conference

Here is a reaction to the WELS worship conference by Pres. Schroeder:

...Then it was on to the worship conference, where more than a thousand WELS worship leaders and musicians had gathered—more than any previous conference. This was the first worship conference I had attended, and I was not disappointed. I came away marveling at the many gifts and talents that God has given to people in our synod. Those gifts were on display in the inspiring worship services and in the many workshops that were held. Some of us are not very emotional people by nature, but there were times when the beauty of the gospel-centered music and messages left very few dry eyes. Particularly moving was the hymn festival featuring a select choir of WELS high school students from across the country.

This conference was significant because it stressed the importance and centrality of worship in our lives as God's people. And as the case was made for the importance of worship, the point was made again and again that confessional Lutheran worship can and should be done with a commitment to excellence and with an appreciation for the heritage of liturgical worship that has been passed down to us by Christians throughout the ages. What was most striking was the reminder that truly Lutheran worship is not centered on us, but on Christ and the proclamation of the timeless gospel.

Maybe there is progress to a return to confessional worship. Or maybe this provides a balance to last summer's change conference on the use of Rock and Roll in worship. ??

Did anyone attend this conference?


Anonymous said...

Yes, I attended this worship conference. If anyone saw any church growth methods, it wasn't the conference I was at. It was very confessional, very centered on the means of grace, and in my opinion, many of the services were almost "high" church, which in my opinion wasn't a bad thing.

It was a conference that focused on the means of grace, and the worship most certainly centered on that too.

Anonymous said...

My associate attended and had nothing but praise for it. He is a confessional and liturgically minded pastor.

Anonymous said...

They served purple Kool Aid at every break.

Anonymous said...

"They served purple Kool Aid at every break."

Boy isn't that "Bailing Water" distilled down to its essence.

Stay Classy

Anonymous said...

I'm not WELS anymore, but the Kool Aid comment is ridiculous. I mean really....

There comes a point to where we address real issues and then there is a point where we just cross the line into worthless chatter.

I like sarcasm...but without a point, it's pointless.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 3:18 added much value to the discussion. Duh.

Anonymous said...

A pastor from our circuit attended the conference and said it was very "high church". The WELS has seemingly turned in that direction. Are we becoming Rome-like or Greek Ortho-like? Is that seen as the target to aim for?

By the way, what is the difference between "confession" worship and biblical worship? I'm not aware there is a "confessional" definition for worship.

Anonymous said...

I like the sound of the synod seeking "high church" if that is truly what it is doing. Maybe it's merely a matter of preference, but sometimes you can recognize when worship is better. One group always accuses it of seeking Rome. The other side assumes any time worship is discussed it's automatically headed CG. It's been explained to me by my pastor that being anti-Rome is at the historical foundation of WELS. That and pietism. But you can throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water it would seem.

The WELS church I attend added a second Sunday of Holy Communion this year (I continue to pray for weekly), has made some altar arrangement changes and purchased an organ. We also covered an abbreviated version of AC in Bible class. I thank God for all of that. A year ago, I was in quite low spirits about it all.

I didn't grow up Lutheran and previously attended an evangelical church that 'rocked' with professional musicians and 7/11 praise songs. I'd take a Gospel-focused hymn over a concert in a second. I'm thankful for the small steps our church has made toward, IMO, a more "high church" style of worship. Unfortunately, the first Sunday with the organ we sang Shine, Jesus, Shine which seemed to defeat the purpose. Baby steps.


Anonymous said...

Here is a point from a WELS pastor known to many: "There are two rules in WELS. Rule 1 - WELS is perfect. Rule 2 - If there are any questions, refer to Rule 1." Many comments about WELS are Mormon-like in their self-adoration. How about some critical thinking? Wayne never saw any Church Growth in WELS. Did that make it so?

Anonymous said...

See, these blog posts prove my contention that no matter what the WELS does, it can't win.

On Bailing Water, the WELS regularly gets savaged for being anti-liturgical, anti-sacramental, anti-confessional, etc.

They hold a major conference which is utterly liturgical and sacramental and confessional and it gets criticized here for being too "high church" and "Rome-like". (And also cult-like, somehow? I don't really get how that fits into anything.)

By the way, liturgical worship done well is most definitely not "Rome-like" or "Greek Ortho-like". This is the hackneyed chorus of backwater WELS pastors who are more influenced by their pietistic roots than they realize. Fortunately such pastors are a dying breed. For the past 10 or 15 years, the seminary has done a thorough job teaching men to be liturgically-minded. Once the pietistic, contempo-loving, baby-boomer pastors retire, this new generation is going to do much good in the synod. They understand that liturgical worship done well is utterly Lutheran.

This conference was just a foretaste of great things to come.

Anonymous said...

"See, these blog posts prove my contention that no matter what the WELS does, it can't win.

See, the point is. The WELS doesn't have to "win". She doesn't have to give a crap what Missourians think. (Sorry Pastor McCain but we don't spend out time thinking about and needing you). She doesn't have to be concerned with what anyone's opinion is. She must look to the Scriptures and the confessions and be guided. If that pleases some, so be it. If that doesn't please some enough- too bad. It is neither right nor safe to go against a conscience guided by His Word.

Anonymous said...

Are the Church Growthers in WELS guided by the Word or by Werning?

Thirsty for Kool Aid

Anonymous said...

"They understand that liturgical worship done well is utterly Lutheran."

Really! The Episcopalians, ELCA (definitely not Lutheran), and Rome would argue with you. Liturgical worship "done well" was trumpeted as the common ground that bonded the ELCA and Episcopalians and is widely seen as common ground as both approach Rome. Christ-centered worship that highlights Word and Sacraments and rightly presents Law and Gospel in a liturgical or non-liturgical worship format is truly Lutheran; both are fine with me. Substance, not form, is the key. Scripture (therefore the Confessions) simply commands no worship format or liturgical seminary or personal preference.

I am thankful that the WELS (as well as my pastors and NEW district president) is striving to keep the right focus without making "liturgical" laws.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:19 AM,

Thank you for your thoughtful comment! Even though I am one who favors a liturgical format, I am puzzled by the concern about copying the Evangelicals but little concern about appearing to be like the Catholics. I'm sure someone here will try to dismiss you for your lack of "confessionalism" or not measuring up to their definition of Lutheran but I appreciate your words.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 11:22 wrote,

"[The WELS] must look to the Scriptures and the confessions and be guided."

I agree!

"At the outset we must again make the preliminary statement that we do not abolish the Mass, but religiously maintain and defend it. For among us masses are celebrated every Lord's Day and on the other festivals, in which the Sacrament is offered to those who wish to use it, after they have been examined and absolved. And the usual public ceremonies are observed, the series of lessons, of prayers, vestments, and other like things."

So, how we doing?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8:19 writes,

"I am puzzled by the concern about copying the Evangelicals but little concern about appearing to be like the Catholics."

Apparently these churches weren't so concerned about "appearing to be like the Catholics."

"Falsely are our churches accused of abolishing the Mass; for the Mass is retained among us, and celebrated with the highest reverence. Nearly all the usual ceremonies are also preserved, save that the parts sung in Latin are interspersed here and there with German hymns, which have been added to teach the people. For ceremonies are needed to this end alone that the unlearned be taught [what they need to know of Christ].... It does not, therefore, appear that the Mass is more devoutly celebrated among our adversaries than among us."

In other words we out "Catholic" the Catholics! Well, because Lutherans are the true Catholics. (By the way, have you been in a ROMAN Catholic Church recently?)

Anonymous said...

"Christ-centered worship that highlights Word and Sacraments and rightly presents Law and Gospel in a liturgical or non-liturgical worship format is truly Lutheran; both are fine with me."

This sounds great in theory, but it just doesn't work this way in real life.

The liturgy was specifically designed to do exactly what you said--be Christ-centered, highlighting Word and Sacrament, Law and Gospel. The church has found this to be true over the course of 2 millennia.

Non-liturgical (contemporary) worship was designed by those who wanted worship to be man-centered, who didn't value Word and Sacrament or Law and Gospel, and who were arrogant enough to throw away 2 millennia of church history in favor of its own trends.

Thus, if you want to be Lutheran, if you want to be Christ-centered, valuing Word and Sacrament, Law and Gospel, you must follow the liturgy. Not because this is a Scriptural law, but because there is no other option out there which does the same thing.

Anonymous said...

our church is hardly guilty of mary worship nor does it sell indulgences and promote the notion that we can do something to save ourselves. leaning towards rome? i think not!

Anonymous said...

Amen and a second to that for the last comment.

It's odd to me that there exists such an anti-Rome bias among some in WELS, but not a fear of being like the current American evangelical, as if that was the lesser of the two evils...

And Lutheranism shouldn't have to compete by providing greater entertainment value than TV or other churches to be attractive. We'll never be pop enough. And it doesn't seem as if that's the way the Holy Spirit works anyway. God working through His Word and Sacrament seems sufficient to get the job done. As if he needed our help and creativity to get the job done in our time, because the "old" methods are inadequate.


Anonymous said...

Understand "High Church" as a restoration of what genuine Lutheran worship was before being poisoned with the influence of the Prussion Union and Pietism rather than adopting a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox style.