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A pastor’s attention to form

. . . [A pastor] can seek to use those forms that convey the truths of Christianity without trivializing, sentimentalizing, or otherwise falsifying them. He can seek forms that are consonant with Christian worship and affections by understanding those forms. For the sake of space, let’s restrict our examples to form within poetry. As he grows in his own understanding of form, he will seek to use forms that do not demean or trivialize the truth of God. He will also try to avoid the error of those who do not understand form: mixing forms which clash. To sing one hymn set to the serious iambic pentameter of a sonnet, followed by a hymn set to the comical amphibrachic meter of a limerick is to create cognitive dissonance in one’s people and collapse distinctions that ought to be clear. Instead of sharpening the moral imagination, this ends up putting opposing ideas into one blender and feeds people the pulpy mush as “balanced worship.” When leaders unwittingly mix forms, discernment becomes nigh impossible for the average church attender.

David de Bruyn, The Conservative Church, 170.

Scott Aniol

About Scott Aniol

Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is Chair of the Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

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