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The New American Evangelical Liturgy | Roger E. Olson

Roger Olson describes what he calls “the new evangelical liturgy”:

Here is the new evangelical liturgy: The worship service begins with loud music either recorded or sung by a “worship team” led by a “music minister.” Then there is a “welcome” and sometimes encouragement to greet each other (in the congregation). Then there follows a long series of contemporary Christian songs with no discernable [sic] tunes sung mostly by the worship team. The words are projected onto one or more large screens. There are no hymnbooks in sight or, if they are there, they are not touched. The songs tend to be repetitious and have little or no theological content or biblical imagery. One could not be blamed for assuming they were written for performance, not congregational singing. About a third of the congregation attempts to sing the songs with the worship team. Hardly anyone over fifty even attempts to sing them.

Then (somewhere in the order of worship) comes the seemingly obligatory “old hymn” but often sung to a different tune than found in any hymn book. By “obligatory” I mean—sung only so that people over fifty will feel like there was “something for them” in the worship service. This is the new “blended worship.” . . . Often the “vibe” of the music portion of the service is that of a rock concert.

The description continues. Read it for yourself. You might not agree with his conclusions, and Olson is not known to be a defender of traditional worship, but it’s difficult to find objections to his description.

Source: The New American Evangelical Liturgy | Roger E. Olson

Ryan Martin

About Ryan Martin

Ryan Martin is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Granite Falls, Minnesota. Prior to that, he served as the associate pastor of Bethany Bible Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina. He is on the board of directors of Religious Affections Ministries. Ryan received his undergraduate degree at Northland Baptist Bible College, and has received further training from Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis, Minn. (M.Div., 2004; Ph.D., 2013). He was ordained in 2009 at Bible Baptist Church of Elk River, Minn. (now Otsego, Minn.). He has a wife and children too. Ryan is the associate editor of Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017). He contributed to the Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (Eerdmans, 2017) and is the author of Understanding Affections in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards: "The High Exercises of Divine Love" (T&T Clark, 2018).

2 Responses to The New American Evangelical Liturgy | Roger E. Olson

  1. Thanks Ryan for the heads up.
    Kind of hard to argue with the basic, observable reality.
    The difficulty is that this has become the new norm / tradition!
    And we don’t question tradition!

  2. Olson is correct to the degree you communicate but so much of his blog writing these days has descended. It’s pretty bad. But yes, on this he is true.

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