Category Archives: Articles on Worship

Roots of Evangelical Worship: The Oxford Movement

Roots of Evangelical Worship: The Oxford Movement

Over the past month I have been exploring the various historical roots that created what we might call “evangelical worship” today, including German Pietism, American Revival, the Wesleys, American Democracy and Camp Meetings, and Charles Finney. Today, I’d like to look at one reaction to some of these developments, that I would suggest also had… Continue Reading

Roots of Evangelical Worship: Charles G. Finney

Roots of Evangelical Worship: Charles G. Finney

Many factors, cultural and theological, converged to form what we might call today “Evangelical Worship,” including Enlightenment philosophy, German Pietism, John and Charles Wesley, American revival and democracy, and rural camp meetings. None, however, had as significant impact as one individual—nineteenth-century Revivalist Charles G. Finney (1792–1875). Influenced by theologian Nathaniel Taylor’s “New Haven Theology,” Finney… Continue Reading

Roots of Evangelical Worship: American Democracy and Camp Meetings

Roots of Evangelical Worship: American Democracy and Camp Meetings

For the past several weeks, I have been tracing what influences formed what today we might call “Evangelical worship,” including German Pietism, American Revival, and the Wesleys. Developments in nineteenth-century America also had considerable influence. The nineteenth century in America was a critical time in its cultural, political, and religious development. The nation was still… Continue Reading

Roots of Evangelical Worship: The Wesleys and Methodism

Roots of Evangelical Worship: The Wesleys and Methodism

What today we might call “evangelical worship” stems from many different influences, some of which I have been highlighting here over the past couple of weeks, including German Pietism and American Revival. A third contributing movement involved the Wesley brothers and Methodism, which arose as a response to increasing lack of devotion in the Church… Continue Reading

Roots of Evangelical Worship: Early American Revival

Roots of Evangelical Worship: Early American Revival

Along with German Pietism, revival in early America contributed to what would become distinctive Evangelical worship. American democracy itself had both positive and negative effects for Christianity and its worship. On the positive side, the new world provided freedom for the new colonists to worship according to their convictions rather than state mandate, which is why… Continue Reading

Roots of Evangelical Worship: German Pietism

Roots of Evangelical Worship: German Pietism

Many factors coalesced in the wake of the Protestant Reformation to produce what we now might call “Evangelical worship.” The first was German Pietism. Pietism was a reform movement within orthodox Lutheranism that had significant impact in the late seventeenth century to mid-eighteenth century. The Pietist movement began in Germany in 1675 with Philipp Jakob… Continue Reading

Worship and the “Mixt Congregation”

Worship and the “Mixt Congregation”

The great shift in worship over the last century has been the result of evangelical clergy in America seeking to make the worship of the church more palatable to the so-called “unchurched.” This is without dispute. The church growth gurus have urged Christian ministers to engineer the style and “aesthetic” of evangelical worship so those… Continue Reading

Votes From the Democracy of the Dead

Votes From the Democracy of the Dead

This entry is part 50 of 52 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

The idea of ordinate affection is not welcome today. Narcissism has become a celebrated virtue, and is now even given the monikers transparent, authentic, and real. The two ditches of sentimentalism and brutality now take up most of the road and a slender middle path of appropriate love is known by few and trod by fewer.… Continue Reading

Affect or Effect

Affect or Effect

This entry is part 2 of 52 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

The difference between affections and emotions is seen in what art is used in worship. Since worship uses art, worship leaders can use it in precisely one of these two ways: to affect us, or to create effect. They can work with poetry, music and the spoken word to work with the imagination. There the… Continue Reading

Orderly Worship

Orderly Worship

While the New Testament does not contain any examples or prescriptions of particular liturgies, Paul does address the matter of service order in 1 Corinthians 14:26–33: What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.… Continue Reading

The Theo-logic of Heavenly Worship

The Theo-logic of Heavenly Worship

In the book of Revelation, God granted the apostle John a look into the temple of heaven. As with Isaiah during the reign of King Uzziah (Isaiah 6), it is no accident that this vision of heavenly worship came at a time when worship on earth was in chaos. In his vision, John observed God… Continue Reading

He will dress himself for service.

He will dress himself for service.

What is he doing? The servant stared with bewilderment as his master girded up his garment and bent down to the bowl of water. He had done as his lord had commanded—he was dressed and ready for service; the lamps were burning, even though it was already the third watch. He was still awake. He… Continue Reading

Lukewarm

Lukewarm

He spewed the water from his mouth. Disgusting! He had recently come from his home in Colossae. There he regularly enjoyed cool, refreshing water from the spring. He had often taken it for granted. I should have remembered, he thought picking up the cup he had dropped to the ground. I’m not home anymore. The… Continue Reading

What Does “Sacrament” Mean?

What Does “Sacrament” Mean?

Like ancient Israel, early Christians considered worship on the Lord’s Day to be sacred—set apart from the regular, mundane activities of life, and therefore what took place in corporate worship was also sacred. This day was “the Lord’s” in a way different from all other days, and the eucharist was a table belonging to the… Continue Reading

Tax Collectors and Sinners

Tax Collectors and Sinners

There was commotion at the windows. What are they doing here? he thought. He had not expected to meet this famed teacher, let alone dine with him at his table. He had been minding his own business, collecting taxes for the Romans. It was his job; sure, he took a little off the top, but… Continue Reading

Sources for Discerning Early Church Worship

Sources for Discerning Early Church Worship

After the close of the New Testament Scriptures, details concerning how, exactly, Christians worshiped are somewhat difficult to determine. However, several early documents do help to elucidate some of what characterized church gatherings. These include letters from important church leaders like Clement of Rome (35–99), Ignatius in Antioch (c. 35–107), Polycarp (69–155), Clement of Alexandria… Continue Reading

Abide

Abide

It was a strong vine, surging with health and life. The vine dresser moved along the length of the vine, carefully fingering each branch. He had come to know these branches through the years. He knew their needs, and tended to them with the love of a father. He stopped. He reached in and fingered… Continue Reading

The Lord’s Day

The Lord’s Day

An early second-century letter from Ignatius, one of the first pastors of the church in Antioch, helps to solidify that the first day of the week became for Christians their primary day of worship and that they referred to it as “the Lord’s Day.” The phrase “Lord’s Day” appears only once in the New Testament… Continue Reading

Biblical Authority in Worship Practice

Biblical Authority in Worship Practice

One important principle articulated in several places in the New Testament was an emphasis upon the importance of biblical authority for worship practices. Usually these kinds of discussions came in the context of confronting the legalism of the Jewish religion. During his ministry, Jesus had already condemned the adding of religious practices not prescribed in… Continue Reading

Accepted

Accepted

I cannot be here. I should not be here. He knew he was unworthy. He could hardly lift his head. The sound was almost deafening. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!” It was a sound unlike he had ever heard before, yet also strangely familiar. Terrifying, yet comforting all at the same time.… Continue Reading