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The Influence of Pentecostalism on the Creation of Contemporary Worship

Swee Hong Lim and Lester Ruth’s new history of contemporary worship, Lovin’ on Jesus, is a very helpful concise assessment of the formation and characteristics of the contemporary worship phenomenon. The authors, although clearly sympathetic to the movement, are objective in their treatment of the influences and priorities of contemporary worship.

Among several factors the authors trace that led to the formation of contemporary worship, Pentecostal theology is probably the greatest. Here are the ways they suggest Pentecostalism has influenced contemporary worship, separating it from previous historic worship (18):

  1. A first point of shaping has been in mainstreaming the desire to be physical and expressive in worship.
  2. A second point of influence is related: highlighting intensity as a liturgical value.
  3. Pentecostalism also has brought a certain expectation of experience to the forms of contemporary worship, which is a third point of influence. Simply put, Pentecostalism contributed contemporary worship’s sacramentality, that is, both the expectation that God’s presence could be encountered in worship and the normal means by which this encounter would happen. . . . What emerged was a sacramentality of music or corporate song . . .
  4. A musical sacramentality raises the importance of the worship set as well as the musicians leading this set, which is the fourth point of broader influence of Pentecostalism on contemporary worship.

All said, the inherent nature of Pentecostal theology within the fabric of contemporary worship cannot be underestimated.

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 Cutlure, 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 three children.

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