Is Controlled Worship Keeping Churches from Fulfilling the Great Commission?

‘Controlled Worship?’ Surely a contradiction in terms…!!!

Yes, it is. But at the same time, no, it really isn’t. Not in practical terms – i.e. how many worshipping communities organise themselves. This blog post has beaten me to the punch on a subject on which I have some very strong views, and so why not re-post this for others to read? The subject matter could not be more relevant, and the timing more appropriate. While I work on the next post on prayer, this can provide something for all of us to chew on…

Is Controlled Worship Keeping Churches from Fulfilling the Great Commission?.

3 thoughts on “Is Controlled Worship Keeping Churches from Fulfilling the Great Commission?

  1. I think it’s more helpful to think in terms of structure rather than control. Both too much and too little structure hinder worship.

    Worship needs structure, both in our lives as a whole and in our gatherings as believers. Good structure is not restrictive, but facilitates freedom, just as the rules of grammar give us the freedom to communicate through language.

    Completely unstructured worship is impossible – patterns and “unwritten rules” emerge over time through habit. Or to put it another way, the question isn’t *whether* we will have a liturgy, but *what* liturgy we will have – written, unwritten, or somewhere in between.

    1. I really like where you are coming from with this, Caleb, and thanks for continuing to be one of the most thoughtful and consistent contributors to this blog! I do accept that ‘structure’ is a really good way to think about this issue and one of the key ideas in my own liturgical theology spectrum is the idea encapsulated in your last paragraph, which you sum up particularly well.

      It is deeply unfortunate, however, that in some church traditions and some cultural traditions within chuch traditions, the business of corporate worship really has become a means in which clergy and laity literally try to work out their own salvation by external actions. As a chuch musician who has participated in all manner of Protestant worship services over the years, some of the ways in which certain church members have behaved with regard to their versions of what is and is not appropriate move far beyond the boundaries of questions of structure alone and absolutely enter the territory of desiring the kind of conformity that is best left to secular social institutions such as the gentlemen’s clubs of Great Britain or the country clubs (and the fraternities/sororities) of the USA. How one dresses, how one responds, what is said, what Bible translation is used. Some people who come to church at times are in seriously bad shape emotionally, yet do not even feel that they can break down and cry during the praise and worship because they sense that the response would be less ‘confused embarrasment’ and more ‘contemptuous disapproval.’ And I’ve experienced this myself!

  2. Assuming the original author wasn’t suggesting that worship be “out of control”, the question then logically becomes “Controlled by whom?”. And it WILL be controlled by someone!

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