17 May 2008

What is worship for?

The first meeting I attended this week was a Ministries Council meeting on Monday, when they were discussing a recent document produced by a group of about 15-20 laypeople who had met to brainstorm ways of making the church more hospitable to people of diverse backgrounds. The recommendations of this group focused mainly on worship aesthetics; the underlying warrant was, "If almost everything that happens in the sanctuary derives from European Christianity, what does that say about who we expect/hope will come to worship?"

Monday's committee discussion sought to deal with this question, and some of the specific recommendations, while mediating the mutual misunderstanding and hurt between the people who wrote the document with good intentions and the people who felt most hurt by it (i.e. the choir and musicians). The conversation centered a lot around questions like, "What do we mean when we say we're a 'neighborhood church'? What is the 'diversity' to which we aspire? Should we be crafting liturgy based on who is already here, or based on who we want to be here?"

Good questions, to be sure. But I think a few other questions probably need to be addressed first. What is worship for? Is worship about satisfying our manifold tastes, or is it about praising God? Regardless of how satisfying our church experience may feel now, is there anything lost when we worship only with people like us? In other words, might worshiping congregations that are segregated by style & taste (not to mention race & class) be replicating the patterns of a fallen world rather than giving glory to God and bearing witness to a Gospel that incorporates all into One?

No comments: