Relevant Worship Is Informed Worship

Pastor, we need our worship to be relevant for the 21st century person.” “We need worship to reach the next generation.” “Why do we do what we do in worship?” “We need worship that enables outreach to our friends and neighbors.” “We need worship that means something, not just the mindless repetition of the same words week in and week out.”

Be honest. When you hear things like that it: a) it makes you happy or b) it kind of puts a damper on the whole rest of your day. I think for most of us it would say “b.” Why? Because though it wasn’t said, the implication may be that the worship opportunity you provide on a Sunday morning doesn’t seem to be meeting those needs.

However, if you think about it, our answer to each one of those concerns is, “I whole-heartedly agree!” And you know that you have answer in the liturgies we use! You know that the worship we use bleeds with relevance from start to finish as it doles out Scripture’s most important and life changing messages of Law and Gospel from start to finish. You know it equips the next generation with all they need to come to know their Savior and gives the motivation and message to live for him with crystal clarity. You know that none of the liturgy is mindless. It is a living collective work of Christianity with some parts that reach back 3500 years! You know the rich variety that exists within the liturgy – you know that we don’t strive for worship for the 21st century alone, but we strive for timeless worship! You know all that…but do they?

You know the answer. It takes constant education. Relevant worship is informed worship! Have a Bible study series on worship. Do a worship workshop and offer food (we love food!). Make worship notes a regular part of your bulletin in the margins or in the footnotes. Perhaps, one of the most appreciated instruction methods that we have made use of in our congregation is the narrated service. The service not only informs and equips, but also encourages youth to consider the ministry.

At our church, we have four worship opportunities on a weekend so we hand pick 8 young men (usually early high school age) who appear to have great gifts for the ministry. We have 2 narrators per service. Throughout the worship hour, there are 4-5 spots in the service that are introduced by the narrator which explains why we do what we do in worship as well as how it connects us to the Holy Christian Church. In the past years, we have “explained” the Service of Word & Sacrament, Morning Praise, and the Common Service. The people appreciate the instruction and variety as well as seeing the next generation of church leaders using their gifts in service to their Savior (and maybe even the shorter sermon!). Our Christian Worship manual and Handbook have all the resources you would need to put a service like this together. God bless your efforts to inform your people of the relevance of worship!

Rev. David Scharf

David Scharf serves as pastor of Immanuel Lutheran in Greenville, WI. Pastor Scharf also serves as a member of the WELS Commission for Congregational Counseling.

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