The study of theology is robust in many areas of the church: expositional preaching is making a come-back; rich and thoughtful books on topics such as discipleship, mission, and prayer seem to pop up every day; and an increasingly high value is placed on the application of this theology to the daily life of the church. Not so with worship.
There have been some excellent books published in theology of worship recently, but there seems to be a significant gap between the good thinking that’s beginning to be done by biblical theologians and philosophers, and the actual practice of the church. Personally, I blame the reformation. “Word-centered” theology, while a good corrective to tradition run rampant, has caused the preacher and the preach to take center stage in church life. The life of worship that the congregation leads, and the gathered worship of the church (apart from the preach itself) have gradually become, at best, secondary. Music has taken over as the definition of worship. People rarely, if ever, consider the significance of gathered worship. Planning is generally considered to be the realm of the musician. And thus musical style has come to be the most important consideration.
Is it any wonder, then, that the worship of the church, the ritual action that God intended for unification, has become a primary means of division? Satan always attacks where we are weakest.
Thus the title of this blog: thinking worship. The title was chosen partially because I intend to use this blog as an outlet for my thought-life, but also because it’s time to wage war on “unthinking worship,” and because I am vain enough to believe that I will be able to step into that gap between the theologian and the practitioner – because I am both.
I have 17 years of experience leading worship in various church contexts (across denominational lines, in several different cultural contexts, and in both large and small churches). Currently, my husband and I are leading a church plant just outside of Edmonton Alberta (Canada). In 2003 I finally realized that the growing passion I felt for the worship of the church (and the growing anger I felt when I saw it abused, misused, or simply “unthought”), might indicate that God was calling me toward a task – so I began studying at Regent College. In 2007 I graduated with my Master of Divinity degree (MDiv) and a concentration in Christianity and the Arts.
I will be forever grateful to Regent College for helping me to “think.” Instead of reading various “worship books” in a canned “worship program,” within Regent’s MDiv I found myself eking out my own program: tailoring my assignments to allow me to research various areas of worship theology. Now that I have graduated and am finally beginning to read “worship books,” I can do so having developed my own theology of worship by studying biblical theology, spiritual theology, systematic theology, biblical languages, pastoral theology, exegesis, hermeneutics, history of Christianity, and applied theology. It was a broad and fascinating program of study. (Special thanks to former professor Darrell Johnson – now pastor of First Baptist in Vancouver – who encouraged me to step into the aforementioned gap between the theologian and the practitioner.)
So, what do I hope to accomplish in blog-format? I plan to explore various areas of worship theology, keeping an eye out for the practitioner in the process. I plan to read and review with you the books that I’m reading as I continue to study. I plan to examine various trends and practices of the Christian church. And I plan to have a bit of fun while I’m doing it.
I hope you’ll join me.