Thursday, May 21, 2009

Think You Don’t Like Ceremony? Think Again!

Johnold Strey | May 20, 2009

think-you-dont-like-ceremony

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great! Another 'Let's bash contempo worship' thread. Yippeeeeeeeeee!

Anonymous said...

>>>Great! Another 'Let's bash contempo worship' thread. Yippeeeeeeeeee!<<<

Umm, that article simply demonstrated that all humans have an innate need and desire for ceremony. How is that bashing contempo worship? Methinks that you're awfully sensitive and defensive about contempo worship. Perhaps because deep down inside you know there's something wrong with it.

Phil said...

...or we could discuss the author's intent, as encouragement not to write off "traditional" worship because of its sameness, when we appreciate and value the ritual of other things.

Hopefully we can stay on target with this one.

Anonymous said...

C'mon guys. Get real. I am considering the blog's author. I mean really, how open minded is he?

BTW; anon @ 548; What is it with stuttering in cyberspace? (ummm) No doubt you are ignorant and you solidify it by um?? Good god.

So if you accept the premise of the article, an NFL football game (the epitome of American Pop Culture) to ceremony and you are OK with that analogy and yet you decry a different format of worship? What irony. God save us!

Anonymous said...

>>>BTW; anon @ 548; What is it with stuttering in cyberspace? (ummm) No doubt you are ignorant and you solidify it by um?? Good god.<<<

Ummmmmm, me stupid, uhhhhhhhhhhh, can't put, ummmmmm, complete sentence together.

First of all, "umm" is not stuttering, it's a verbal pause. Learn the difference before calling others ignorant. Second of all, I used it not in ignorance, but as a rhetorical device for emphasis. Third of all, I don't think our holy God would appreciate you using his name in vain to make fun of others.

>>>So if you accept the premise of the article, an NFL football game (the epitome of American Pop Culture) to ceremony and you are OK with that analogy and yet you decry a different format of worship? What irony. God save us!<<<

Ummmmmmm, what in the world are you trying to say here? Did you read the article? Did you understand the article? The point of the article is that contempos ridicule and belittle "ceremony", saying that it is meaningless to today's culture, without realizing that ceremony is very much applicable and valued by people in today's culture. The point was not, as you seem to think, that worship should be like a football game, as much as I'm sure you'd love that. Seriously, reading comprehension is your friend. Try using it next time before you end up looking foolish as you try to make others look foolish.

Anonymous said...

Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm,

How old are you, anyway?

OK Mr. Reading and Comprehension. Let me say this in simpler terms for you. If one can find ceremony in American pop culture like a football game, then one can find it in a different worship format. Its a stupid argument! And most of us don't ridicule high church. Thanks for another ignorant comment.

Anonymous said...

>>>If one can find ceremony in American pop culture like a football game, then one can find it in a different worship format.<<<

Contempo worship actively and purposefully rejects ceremony in favor of casualness and spontaneity. In fact, that's probably their biggest argument against liturgical worship--that it's too ceremonial, when today's people don't like ceremony. Thus, the article is pointing out that the contempo people who claim that ceremony is meaningless to people today are wrong. People today love and crave ceremony--for example, at a football game.

I would suggest reading the article again (slowly). I don't think it's saying what you think it says.

LutherRocks said...

Anon @ 1117. Define contempo or cite an example. There are varying degrees. You're painting with broad strokes.

Tim Niedfeldt said...

Well being someone labeled as a contemporary worship person, I actually find the article very true and anon 11:17 is partially correct when he says "Thus, the article is pointing out that the contempo people who claim that ceremony is meaningless to people today are wrong." They would indeed be wrong to say that. However I think the mistake that is noted here is to lump all contemporary worship advocates in one broad brush. People do want ceremony to honor that which they love. It doesn't matter if it's a wedding, a football game or Jesus.

It would be foolish to make the assumption that contemporary worship is not ceremonial. I'm sure we could argue into a rediculous number of comments about to what degree of properness, rigidness, traditional, and ceremonial pomp and circumstance needs to be present to be classified a ceremony proper for a Lutheran Church (I think we can just copy and paste stuff from previous threads though)

I have yet to meet a WELS contemporary worship supporter who condemns ceremony or even traditional forms of worship in a Lutheran context. I have heard preferences as to what they may prefer, but never a comment that says there is anything wrong with traditional, or low church or high church even for that matter. I've never heard someone say that traditional should be wiped out and is evil and wrong for the church...at least not in the WELS.

If there is derision about ceremony out there in contemporary church land I'm guessing it comes from evangelicals and what not and is derived from their errant doctrine and decision theology.

An example would be the leaders at the non-denominational (pentacostal in nature) school my kids went to when we lived in NH. There our kids were considered part of "religion" because we were Lutheran. They despised ceremony, liturgy, and sacraments and believed my children to be unsaved until they reported an acceptance of Jesus at the office. In "chapel" they would deride "religion" and its "false reliance" on tradition and membership within a certain church body etc.. School parents would ask me when I became saved and I'd say 9/30/1968 and they'd look confused because of my age....I'd explain yes I was 5 weeks old and I was baptized....and then their faces would turn right to that derision of "religion"

So yes this despising of ceremony is out there but I have yet to hear any such thing within the WELS versions of contemporary. I think you would be hard pressed to find someone in the WELS who would decry ceremony or liturgy or traditional and those who like and prefer it. You may find plenty who advocate the right for Christian Freedom and the right to have contemporary worship forms. Desiring that, however, is not tantamount to despising ceremony or tradition.

Tim Niedfeldt

Anonymous said...

Tim,

CW worship is not ceremonial. As far as not ever hearing comments that traditional worship is wrong: what circle are you in? You must not be referring to the Rock and Roll WELS churches. These churches despise ceremony. They neglect Lent and hide communion. By touting Christian Freedom and tossing aside the liturgy one does despise the essence of Lutheran worship. You don't get it because you might not despise the liturgy but WELS pastors do. Doctrine, worship, and practice are clearly linked in every manner.

Anonymous said...

The wide, sweeping generalizations on this blog are astounding. Yup, I read it, so it must be true - WELS pastors hate liturgy! That's why they still teach it at their seminary, to be able to discard it upon graduation. The vast majority of WELS worship services each week are liturgical. I would also guess that most WELS congregations offering contemporary worship also offer traditional services.

As far as contemporary worship not having ceremony, I would agree that is true when contemporary worship is people sitting around making it up as they go. However, if they have a prescribed order they follow in worship, they do have a ceremony they follow each week, even though it is in a different form than a hymnal-based worship service follows. To be valid, any worship form should have at its heart both Word and Sacrament.

When a congregation/pastor preaches something that wanders from God's truth, pile on that and rightly so. Where you don't like something "just because," be careful you are not becoming a pharisse, binding consciences where you have no right to step.

Fine lines, gentlemen and gentle-ladies.

LutherRocks said...

Anon @737. This is the kind of ignorance that pervades these blogs. There is nothing you said that is true in the WELS. IF there are such churches, then put your money where your mouth is. Money talks and BS walks...

Anonymous said...

I have attended both contemporary and traditional worship services in the WELS. I find that both have a "sameness" about them. The contemporary services I have attended in five different WELS churches are much more alike in format from church to church than are the traditional services, which have a variety of liturgies.
I can worship and hear law and gospel in either, usually poorly presented in both. PowerPoint is often done to the distraction of the hearer from the speaker and with the loss of eye contact, essential in a heart-to-heart talk. (PowerPoint is used in both tradition and contemporary formats. I am not singling out contemporary here.) What I find is a lot of "sermons" which talk about law and gospel, but which never convict or comfort. Too many sermons, in both traditional and contemporary services are non-Lutheran specific and so generic that they could be preached in almost any church without anyone so much as raising an eyebrow. The real difference I notice in "essence" rather than "form" is the quality of the words of the music. In only one of the contemporary services did I hear songs with uniquely Lutheran words. In that church, the pastor's son wrote most of the music and the words. In the rest, the words of the songs were doctrinally shallow at best. Many contained no doctrine at all, but were repetitive praise songs. Most of the songs could be sung in a church of any demonimation. My concern is this. It has often been said that a good sermon can out put the music and its words into a Lutheran context. However, with the sylte of preaching that seems to be prevailing (non-Lutheran specific and so generic that it could be preached in other churches without objection), then the words to the music and other service elements can put mediocre sermons into a Lutheran context. Where both are lacking, we are no different than the community or Reformed church down the street.

Anonymous said...

I kind of stumbled onto this blog, so I'm not sure that it's the right place to ask this, but...

I have been going to a Lutheran church, but I'm not sure that it's where I should be because it's just making me feel worse about myself. Last week the sermon was about being sure you are saved. It was on 1 John 5. I was hoping the pastor would reassure me that my sins were forgiven, but she talked more about loving God's chilren. This made me wonder if I even am a Christian. I kept thinking: “This obviously can’t be talking about me. I don’t always love God very much. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is carry out his commands, and they do sometimes seem burdensome. And when it comes to loving his people – I can’t stand some of them. I keep making the same mistake over and over, I keep messing up my relationships, I have all these character flaws that I keep struggling with, and I’m afraid I might have a couple of addictions… And to hear John say "everyone born of God overcomes the world…" while I have a hard time keeping it together for a day… makes me think I’m not really "born of God."

So how would you answer someone like me?

Anonymous said...

"Contempo worship actively and purposefully rejects ceremony in favor of casualness and spontaneity."

That's an overly-rigid description of contemporary worship, and one which probably doesn't apply very well to WELS blended formats -- which is really what most "contemporary" services are in our denomination. In other words -- the initial sports analogy has zero relevence. Nice try though.

Anonymous said...

Anon 737 wrote:

"As far as not ever hearing comments that traditional worship is wrong: what circle are you in? You must not be referring to the Rock and Roll WELS churches. These churches despise ceremony. They neglect Lent and hide communion. By touting Christian Freedom and tossing aside the liturgy one does despise the essence of Lutheran worship."

Okay, now now I get it. We've all been talking past each other all along. The term "Rock and roll churches" used on this site refers to churches in some alternate-universe, fantasy-novel WELS. I have never heard a WELS pastor disparage the liturgy or despise ceremony. And, far from despising ceremony, most of the blended services I have attended at WELS churches retain such ritual elements as the Trinitaian invocation, confession and absolution, creeds, the Lord's Prayer, psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, an offering, scripture lessons, a sermon, Holy Baptism, Holy Communion... In fact, it's hard to think of any parts of these serviecs that are not ceremonial in nature. (Maybe the announcements -- but there there tends to be a ritual to that as well.)

The earliest Christian churches neglected Lent as well. I think they also hid the Lord's Supper. (I thought I read somewhere that because of concerns about persecution, some churches in the post-apostolic era restricted worship participation to those who had been confirmed. That seems fairly "hidden.")

Anonymous said...

.. far from despising ceremony, most of the blended services I have attended at WELS churches retain such ritual elements as the Trinitaian invocation, confession and absolution, creeds, the Lord's Prayer, psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, an offering, scripture lessons, a sermon, Holy Baptism, Holy Communion... In fact, it's hard to think of any parts of these serviecs that are not ceremonial in natureI am not talking about an alternate universe, I'm speaking of the rock and roll WELS churches that have sprung up. Some are rotten to the CORE as they do not offer an order of service but rather praise/rock and roll songs and an extended sermon.

I am not talking about the blended mush that many churches use. That is a whole different can of worms than the rock and roll churches.

So "defender of WELS" I would suggest you broaden your vision and you will see the very things I speak of. Or just head over to the church and change website. It is all about making worship relevant. So the western rite is irrelevant according to these folks? hmmm that seems very much like they despise the historical worship practices of the Lutheran church.

Anonymous said...

Nobody at Church and Change calls the Wester Rite irrelevant.

The vast majority of those who participate in Church and Change are not "Rock and Roll" churches. Your erroneous generalizations could make one wonder whether you have ever attended a WELS church. You apparently have not spent much time talking to the "Church and Change" people.

Get your facts straight. (But then you would have no need for this blog.)

Anonymous said...

Who is "defender of WELS"?

Anonymous said...

Anon 503 said: "I'm speaking of the rock and roll WELS churches that have sprung up. Some are rotten to the CORE as they do not offer an order of service but rather praise/rock and roll songs and an extended sermon."

"rotten to the CORE"? By whose standards? Yours or Christ's? Unless there is a specific Biblical injunction against praise songs or extended sermons, you stand with the Pharisees.

Anonymous said...

"I am not talking about an alternate universe, I'm speaking of the rock and roll WELS churches that have sprung up."

You have personally attended all these churches?

Anonymous said...

"At a recent rock and roll worship gathering the esteemed reverend didn't trot out in a geneva gown or a collar but rather in a worn out pair of jeans."

I have led worship gatherings on camping trips wearing a worn out pair of jeans. Is there a Biblical injunction against that? Or is this blog really all about elevating culture above the word?

Anonymous said...

Or is this blog really all about elevating culture above the word?That is actually what you are doing with your rock and roll churches. I'm not sure of the intent of this blog but it is my intent to remain faithful to the Lutheran Confessions.

Why are so many in the WELS afraid to have a dialogue?

Why won't someone explain to me why these WELS pastors have determined the western rite to be irrelevant?

here is a quote: If you hate going to church, we understand.

Studies show that many men - and more and more women too - will not even set foot inside a church today. Way too much of church is boring and irrelevent. Many of us feel like we dont have time. We don't want to be constantly asked for money. And frankly, many of us believe church is for wimps. Beyond all that, the number one reason most of us dont like going to church is obvious-there are way too many hypocrites there!

If you hate going to church, CTR was built with you in mind.
So the historical Lutheran church is irrelevant?

Anonymous said...

No, but talk to those whom have left churches and often they will speak of having gotten nothing from them, hence the leaving and not going back attitude which persists. If someone has left a church with those memories, just maybe someone approaching them differently can get them to peek their heads back in to listen. It doesn't matter the format, put a poor sermon in the mix (or worse yet one with an overtly false message) and the service will harm some of those who attend. Any doubts about it? Check in with your very ceremonial Roman Catholic neighbors.

Be sure to quote the Christians in context whose words you chose to use. Their church has a liturgical service, so I hardly see how they have dismissed the value of it. Instead, they are using a building that was empty and inviting people who have left Christian churches (or have never been Christian) to come in their doors and learn of Christ. I rejoice with them at every lost soul who comes through the doorway and hears about a Savior from sin. The Holy Spirit is at work there.

Again, what about the camping service mentioned? No organ, no liturgy, a sermon by a blue jean wearing preacher, but if the message is true, the Holy Spirit was at work in that place. In fact, he worked through someone not dressing the part of a finely robed preacher, in a wilderness setting, named Johh, didn't he? John the Baptist would be excused as not worthy were he to add his thoughts about proper attire and liturgics. Still, there was nothing mushy about his worship style.

Anonymous said...

quote in context.. oh please ..here you go:

Hate going to churchThis church does not offer a traditional service. The WELS pastor views this type of worship as irrelevant.

You may have your camp fire church but I will stick with the western rite.

Anonymous said...

"So the historical Lutheran church is irrelevant?"

Read the quote. He didn't say that.

Anonymous said...

"[Elevating culture above the word] is actually what you are doing with your rock and roll churches."

Not at all. I have never heard a proponent of "rock and roll church" insist that their cultural approach is the only right way. I have heard some on this blog suggest that the Western Rite is the only right way to worship God. This places culture above scripture, since scripture makes no such claim.

By the way, I'm a "smells and bells" guy -- I prefer liturgical worship, but I would never claim that my way is "the only right way." If Christ and his apostles made no command, I will keep my mouth closed. So will all his people.

Anonymous said...

"This church does not offer a traditional service. The WELS pastor views this type of worship as irrelevant."

Has he actually said this? If not, you should amend your statement to say "I think that the WELS pastor views this type of worship as irrelevant," and make the necessary changes to your previous comments.

Anonymous said...

I won't amend my comment. He does believe that the historic liturgy is irrelevant. Read his website. I don't need to talk with him. His hatred for the western rite is obvious from his own words on his website.

Culture is placed above Scripture when you view what the church has done as being irrelevant to the pop culture at hand. I would direct you to the Lutheran Confessions. Read these words carefully.

I am going to exit stage left. It seems the WELS is full of praise band proponents. "Lord come quickly."

Anonymous said...

Gentlemen. As you all have argued, you ignored the most important post here. A person in need reached out and asked a question of faith and you all ignored him / her in favor of your self-righteous know-it-all intolerable opinions.

Anonymous 3:15 - Where you are at, is not where you should be. Find a church that preaches the truth, that you are saved by grace, not by anything you have to do. You are saved by what Christ did for you and nothing else, don't let anyone try to tell you differently or that there is some catch or anything you need to add for your salvation. Your faith that God has placed in your heart through hearing his word is there not because you are good or could ever be. (As you can see here, no one is good and everyone seems to dislike someone.)

If you have a WELS or ELS Lutheran church in your area, there you will find the truth taught and preached (regardless of whether it is old traditional or new contemporary). If I were you, I would go to the pastor there with these questions. If you would wish to remain anonymous, you can also find answers on the WELS website which is: www.wels.net

Unfortunately, you ran across a site where people within the WELS denomination are being very ugly toward each other. I think it is the blog environment bringing this out in all of us. On the upside, you can see we are not all perfect in any way shape or form.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall not parish but have ever lasting life." John 3:1

Anonymous said...

Read the article, quite simplistic and hardly persuasive. Strey didn't explain the number one criterion for ceremony, to teach the Gospel. Any Anglican could have said what he said. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:15, I would like to write to you personally if you're comfortable talking with someone who struggles with the same feelings as you do:

eichpd@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I wish people would stop quibbling about worship styles and address far more pressing problems in the WELS, like ministers (teachers and pastors) who would much rather motivate lay people with guilt and shame than with the pure joy of the Gospel. WELS, at least in some parts of the country, is experiencing a Gospel drought and is content to continue to rail on the faithful with the message of sin and failure and worthlessness. It's amazingly sad the disproportionate amount of law there is compared to Gospel. And then the churches and schools wonder why they're shrinking? Hmm, I wonder if there is a correlation between consistently beating people down and causing them to leave? And then there is the issue of people who leave the ministry or leave the WELS and the vast majority of WELSians treating them basically as though they died. Typical WELSers don't have to take a back seat to anyone when it comes to the ability to shun those who have made a mistake or those who choose to go elsewhere. If it sounds like I'm WELS-bashing a little bit, you're darn right I am. My wife and I have tried for years and years and have had meeting after meeting and quite honestly we have given up. We are both life long WELS folk, and we have decided that it's really not for our family. Don't get me wrong, we have talked to some really solid people who are wonderful examples of Christ's love and continue to be WELS. There simply are too many in leadership who are vastly more concerned with self-preservation and public perception than with Christian freedom and individual hearts. The irony lies in that they may very well self-preserve themselves into extinction. I know I'm off topic and rambling. I don't care. I need to get some of this stuff off my chest. Feel free to ignore me. God help the WELS. It seems like it is its own worst enemy right now and very few people want to admit that anything is wrong. Meanwhile, my family and I firmly believe that the most spiritually beneficial thing for us right now is to get out.

Farewell WELS

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:44

What exactly are you talking about? On what basis (specifically) can you say that there is a disproportionate amount of law compared to gospel on a widespread basis? In what way are leaders (specifics and names, please) guilty of self-preservation and failing to appreciate Christian freedom? What church have you identified as one that preaches God's whole truth and that you will join? If you sense that WELS has departed from the truth, why not stay and try to correct the problems? Which leader(s) have you talked to about your concern? How have they responded? What -- other than leaving -- can you do to help those whom you feel are being mis-served by their pastors?

Lemkeel said...

Hi all, just wanted to let everyone know that there's a potential virus threat on this webpage. My PC computer these past few days has been attacked several different occasions, both while this website was on a tab (tabbed browsing) and while a couple others were as well, so it is possible this website has not been attacked, but it is also possible it has been. Thankfully, my antivirus software detected the viruses (e.g., malware, trojans) before they were able to affect my computer, but just to let you all know who use PC's, you're computer may be affected. Currently, I'm using my MacBook Pro which thankfully is impervious to vicious attacks from people who really need to know they are loved by our Savior from sin.

John said...

Lemkeel ..

I think that the blogspot site is protected from virus attacks.

It could possibly be the Church Growth virus you are facing.

Lemkeel said...

John,

Well, if you're certain this website is protected, that's one thing. If you're not certain, that's another thing. I think the other site that may have been attacked is Ichabod's site, but he's choosing not to post my comment either about a potential virus threat on that site either. Well, to each his own.

I think it's funny that everyone on this blog is certain that I'm one of those Church Growth, Church & Change, and whatever else name you call 'em people. I'm not, don't subscribe to those beliefs and would not call myself a Church Growth person. I do believe in the power of the Gospel. At the same time, I sympathize with Church Growth people cause as someone who works with "real people with real problems" on a regular basis I can see quite readily where they're coming from. In today's day and age, it seems that we (service providers, even ministers and teachers) are having to "butter up" those who we need to reach, which is done quite effectively by developing a relationship with them. After a relationship is established, then you can "teach and preach" but until then, whatever you're trying to accomplish likely won't take effect.

Anonymous said...

Lemkeel,

It would appear that you don't understand computers any better than you do the Lutheran Confessions, the GRE, or logic.

Close the prep schools, please. Exhibit A above.

Lemkeel said...

Anon 9:22, Despite your rude comments, I'll still respond quickly. Without describing what I don't understand about computers, Lutheran Confessions, the GRE, or logic, I literally don't know what you're talking about, and honestly I don't care. In the future, please be more respectful or don't even address me at all.

With regard to closing the prep schools, I do think that should happen. If you look closely at the options presented to be voted on for this summer's synod convention, you'll notice that the only real option is Option B. However, you'll also notice that all the cuts listed under the Option A & B section really are significant, and thus it seems to me that both individual options A & B can and should be revised so that there are fewer cuts in the Option A & B section. In other words, if Option B is the "golden ticket" this time around, then MLS will close leaving LPS. My argument is then that LPS should close as well so that there will slightly more money diverted to the cuts that are in the A & B Option.

Again, as stated earlier, please don't address me if you cannot be respectful.

RandomDan said...

I have been going to a Lutheran church, but I'm not sure that it's where I should be because it's just making me feel worse about myself. Last week the sermon was about being sure you are saved. It was on 1 John 5. I was hoping the pastor would reassure me that my sins were forgiven, but she talked more about loving God's chilren. This made me wonder if I even am a Christian. I kept thinking: “This obviously can’t be talking about me. I don’t always love God very much. Sometimes the last thing I want to do is carry out his commands, and they do sometimes seem burdensome. And when it comes to loving his people – I can’t stand some of them. I keep making the same mistake over and over, I keep messing up my relationships, I have all these character flaws that I keep struggling with, and I’m afraid I might have a couple of addictions… And to hear John say "everyone born of God overcomes the world…" while I have a hard time keeping it together for a day… makes me think I’m not really "born of God."

So how would you answer someone like me?
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.The Gospel for Those Broken by the ChurchThe above link is an mp3 of a program I listen to regularly. At about the 1 hour 26 minute mark the lecture starts. Actually, every commenter here should listen and then put their hands in their faces and weep.

Anonymous said...

"every commenter here should listen."

Don't tell me what to do, you're not my boss.

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flgbn33 said...

It's rather amusing to be able to identify writing styles of those who "anonymously" post on this blog, particularly those who exhibit the least amount of self-control when confronted with opposing or difficult viewpoints.

If only the WELS could purge its puffed-up pastorship. If only MLC gave at least two semesters in leadership skills or something of the sort.