Worship is indeed more than an experience

There is an article over at Out of Ur blog entitled Beyond Sermons and Songs: Why Experiential Worship Isn’t Enough by David Fitch that questions our quest for experience in worship.  Indeed, worship is more than an experience and Fitch’s point about needing a framework is a valid conclusion.  He does not stop there, but basically propagates going to "liturgical" worship. This can be creeds, candles and following the liturgical calendar that orders worship.  Here is a quote:

I continue to assert that a sufficient theology of worship must come to grips with the epistemological shifts of the last century whereby we can no longer be naive that a "religious experience,” like the one sought in a rock concert worship service, provides immediate access to God. Experience is something learned and trained into. An experience is produced through interpretive frameworks, particularly language. As Lindbeck would say, "there is no uninterpreted experience." This is one reason the evangelical church must move beyond the "rock concert pep rally" if we wish to recover a worship that shapes truthful minds and faithful experience. Rock concert worship produces an experience, but then fails to give people a framework to interpret it.  Read the whole article.

Where I agree with the premise of the need for a framework, I also look to the content of what is being sung and celebrated.  What are we having a "pep rally" about?  Is it our own interpretation, or is the congregation celebrating God’s grace, mercy and love?  Is there more than music in the service?  Are there messages or sermons that point to the Christ of the scripture? 

What is described as liturgy in this article is far too narrow.  Remember, churches in the past were married to the states or nations they were in.  There is a lot of cultural baggage, in other words.  Singing rock and roll and preaching expository style messages are as much liturgy (worship) as candles and chants.  There is beauty in both, perhaps, but really there is freedom to do both.  As long as the liturgy focuses on Christ as the center, then we should not fear it.  Indigenous worship/liturgy is more important than what the western church did 300-400 years ago. 

Don’t get me wrong.  Music can be bad if it is self-focused, and preaching can be bad if it is psychology more than the Bible.  That is where the "framework" issues come into play.  It is content that is biblical, not forms that are culturally temporal that provide framework.

 

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

4 comments

  1. Well said, Rich. I read that post over there at Out of Ur and had some thoughts on the difference between experience and worship. I’ll use a popular Christian rock band as an example.
    Any time I’ve been at a Third Day concert, I’ve felt like I’ve been in the presence of God at church. Not with some pentacostal, jumping-up-and-down experience, but by a true affirmation of the place and presence of Christ in our lives. So what’s the difference? They’re not turning their amps down any more than the next band, and they’re definitely not holding back on the sonic quality of their performances. I believe the difference is in the attitude and direction of this band’s heart. That creates a true worship experience that can only come about by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

  2. Well said, Rich. I read that post over there at Out of Ur and had some thoughts on the difference between experience and worship. I’ll use a popular Christian rock band as an example.
    Any time I’ve been at a Third Day concert, I’ve felt like I’ve been in the presence of God at church. Not with some pentacostal, jumping-up-and-down experience, but by a true affirmation of the place and presence of Christ in our lives. So what’s the difference? They’re not turning their amps down any more than the next band, and they’re definitely not holding back on the sonic quality of their performances. I believe the difference is in the attitude and direction of this band’s heart. That creates a true worship experience that can only come about by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

  3. Well said, Rich. I read that post over there at Out of Ur and had some thoughts on the difference between experience and worship. I’ll use a popular Christian rock band as an example.
    Any time I’ve been at a Third Day concert, I’ve felt like I’ve been in the presence of God at church. Not with some pentacostal, jumping-up-and-down experience, but by a true affirmation of the place and presence of Christ in our lives. So what’s the difference? They’re not turning their amps down any more than the next band, and they’re definitely not holding back on the sonic quality of their performances. I believe the difference is in the attitude and direction of this band’s heart. That creates a true worship experience that can only come about by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

  4. Well said, Rich. I read that post over there at Out of Ur and had some thoughts on the difference between experience and worship. I’ll use a popular Christian rock band as an example.
    Any time I’ve been at a Third Day concert, I’ve felt like I’ve been in the presence of God at church. Not with some pentacostal, jumping-up-and-down experience, but by a true affirmation of the place and presence of Christ in our lives. So what’s the difference? They’re not turning their amps down any more than the next band, and they’re definitely not holding back on the sonic quality of their performances. I believe the difference is in the attitude and direction of this band’s heart. That creates a true worship experience that can only come about by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

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