Worship As Dialogue

Many folks go to church to hear a good sermon, and many folks to to church to let their spiritual emotions run wild.  I think a useful (and Biblical) view is to see worship as an ordered dialogue between God and his people.  More specifically, it is a dialogue between Jesus and his Bride.  Everyone knows a good conversation between husband and wife is not a boring, dry affair, unless there are bigger problems in the marriage.  A lively conversation involves emotions, and so should worship.

J.D. Crichton summarizes this dynamic well: “Because it is God who always takes the initiative, Christian worship is best discussed in the terms of response.  In worship man is responding to God and this is true of the whole of the liturgy, whether it be praise, thanksgiving, supplication, or repentance, whether it be Eucharist or baptism, or liturgical prayer or the celebration of the Church’s year,” (The Study of Liturgy, 7).

One application of the this dialogue/response principle is that the congregation should not be passive in worship.  The ancient church was wise to have a pattern of congregational responses to the minister.  Anglican churches have preserved this pattern, and it makes sense.  Church is not a lecture-hall.  Corporate worship should be just that: corporate, involving the whole Body of Christ. 

It also follows that congregational singing should be the congregation singing, and not drowned out by electric guitars and amps (or pipe organs). 

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One thought on “Worship As Dialogue

  1. “It also follows that congregational singing should be the congregation singing, and not drowned out by electric guitars and amps (or pipe organs). ”

    Either that, or the entire church should be playing the guitars or pipe organs corporately, all together and in unison. True, not everyone in the church knows how to play a pipe organ or guitar, and even if they do, they cannot necessarily play the instrument well. However, the same goes for singing… some don’t really know how to sing, but they are still required to try, and to work on learning how to sing so that they can do so on key and in unison (or harmony). I only say all this because I perceive an attack on contemporary music misapplied.

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