I am grateful for the comments on recent worship blogs (as well as private emails). Let me focus on a couple of specific issues raised. I admit I don't have reflective answers to the questions I want to raise. First:
Music, music, music.
In response to Worship's Inclusiveness (6) one person wrote about music resonating with the soul, another about the need to be inclusive. Yet another said they were tone-deaf, so the whole debate seemed irrelevant! The more I think about music's role in contemporary worship, the more I see how some people have to be careful in music leadership. Let's place four attitudes towards music on a scale of 1 to 10. At both ends there are difficulties.
1. DISINTEREST. Friends who are tone-deaf fit here, but this raises important questions about how else the liturgy ("work of the people") may involve them. How vital is participation in prayer, Scripture, Lord's Supper, and preaching for genune opportunity to belong. (1 & 2 on scale).
2. NEUTRALITY. Those who have no particular interest in music and go with the flow. (3 & 4 on scale)
3. ECLECTIC. Those who are enthusiastic about music and commit themselves to a wider range of musical styles. Intentionally, they embrace differences. (5,6 & 7 on scale).
4.FOCUSSED. Those who are totally committed to one style of music and find it difficult to listen to any other. (10 on scale).
Now, noone should underestimate the major issues at either end of the scale - those for whom music is unimportant, or all-important! Somehow, room must be found for the tone deaf, while encouraging those who are neutral to realize music's possibilities for worship. But major work has to be done with the totally focussed, who may be in danger of hi-jacking the agenda. The eclectic option may sound rather weak, but actually speaks volumes about seeking to appreciate what other people experience in different kinds of music while learning how to respond positively.
Recently, my son "treated" me to half an hour listening to his Ipod tunes. Frankly, I had never heard any of the artists or their music before. But I realized how much they mean to him and I sought to enter in. And I know his thoughtfulness, when he puts on classical music for me. Its a small (familiar) example. But I do think it says something about avoiding extremes to exclude others.