Today, at lunchtime, I spoke to a ACT3 forum (a mission for advancing the Christian tradition in the third millennium). I sounded out my latest passion - that too many preachers are marginalizing worship.
That quote: "Preachers aren't usually interested in worship" came from a worship conference I attended. It shocked me. Do you think it's true? But, perhaps, preachers do see worship as:
an extra burden in a busy life,
a specialism they are not trained for,
too controversial and best left alone,
an enthusiasm best left to those who are keen
a personal pain because of poor relationships between pastors and worship leaders.
Whatever the reason (can you think of more?), I fear that preachers who belittle worship end up as tuneless preachers - preachers who "just don't get worship." I identified ten characteristics of such tuneless preachers. In rapid fire:
1. A faulty definition of worship, such as music only, or pragmatics only....
2. A thin theology of worship, that is often "practical unitarianism" rather than trinitarian.
3. Scripture fails to direct the whole of worship.
4. Patchy liturgy has little appreciation of the past - no interest in the Christian year, or patterns of worship.
5. No awareness of worship's community formation - the sermon is all that matters!
6. Sacraments or ordinances - just add-ons.
7. Culture - all too easy compromise, going after "what people want" rather than "what God desires to develop his mature people in Christ."
8. Narrative - living God's big story of creation, incarnation, and new creation is lost in bits and pieces of sermons.
9. Teaching on worship - neglected.
10. Preparation of sermons and worship - solo, with preachers isolated from worship leaders.
There were several immediate responses - John Armstrong, President and Founder of Act 3, remembered asking a mega church leader what his theology of worship was. His reply: "I didn't know there was a theology of worship!" What? An Orthodox pastor said he was writing a book in his liturgical tradition about the role of preaching - the opposite problem, he said! Another pastor said he thought that non-liturgical churches were in a good position to deepen worship experience, provided there is good teaching and collaboration. Others commented on the gap between preachers and worship leaders in churches they know.
I look forward to further comments. Please, let's keep dialogue going.