The journey begins when Christians leave their homes and beds. They leave, indeed, their life in this present and concrete world, and whether they have to drive fifteen miles or walk a few blocks, a sacramental act is already taking place, an act which is the very condition of everything else that is to happen. For they are now on their way to constitute the Church, or to be more exact, to be transformed into the Church of God. They have been individuals, some white, some black, some poor, some rich, they have been the ‘natural’ world and a natural community. And now they have been called to “come together in one place,” to bring their lives, their very “world” with them and to be more than what they were: a new community with a new life.
—Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World, 27
Worship is a form of communication, and not everyone is equipped by training or inclination to communicate in the same way. The challenge for a congregation is not to conform to some universal model, but to discover how its particular mix of people can honor God with integrity and sincerity.
—Daniel Frankforter, Stones for Bread, 3
Neither worship music nor its style should be the primary defining mark of any church. Its real engagement with the living Lord should be that defining mark in both attractions and missional ways. While leaders must give loving guidance to and development of the musical style of their community, there is something more profound to discover: its worship voice.
—Constance Cherry, The Music Architect: Blueprints for Engaging Worshipers in Song, 181
Though I trust it’s been unintentional, the contemporary worship movement has conveyed that a certain level of production quality is necessary to achieve faithful modern worship.
In this sense, contemporary worship has come quite a long way from the folk guitars and simple choruses of the 1970s, which were designed to democratize congregational singing so that more people could engage with it meaningfully. In the 2000s, contemporary worship media have embraced the values of polished production and mass-market appeal. But as modern praise has become more professionalized, it’s led at least some church leaders to conclude that they’d be better off foregoing human musicians altogether and leaving accompaniment to the (virtual) experts.
The good news is that God gives each congregation all they need to serve Him. First Corinthians 12:18 reminds us that “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.” If that means a church is unable to produce the same quality of music they see at worship concerts and on YouTube, then we can trust God’s good purposes. He cares far more about the state of our hearts than the ability of our band to recreate the sound of an online video.
—Matt Merker, “How Contemporary Worship Music Is Shaping Us—for Better or Worse” https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/singing-congregation-contemporary-worship/
In the New Testament the Church emerges as a worshiping community, constituted by the New Covenant. . . . [It] is most itself when it is engaged in worship.
—William Nicholls, Jacob’s Ladder: The Meaning of Worship, 22
Worship is indeed for the Church, while it waits for the Kingdom, the time and place par excellence at which it finds its own deep identity….What makes the Church first glimpse, and then see clearly, its true face is meeting with Christ and learning from Him what sort of Bride it is that He loves. It is on Christ’s face that the Church learns who it is.
—Jean-Jacques von Allmen, “The Theological Fame of a Liturgical Renewal,” Church Quarterly 2(1969-70), 8
Worship shapes individual and community character. In specific terms, it must be relational rather than institutional. For example—and here the trivial makes the point—we almost inevitably hear the person leading worship welcome people into the house of God. This is emphatically not the case! At best, the worship leader may welcome the house of God into the building in which they are meeting! Any language that suggests that the life of the people of God is known in its institutional and physical structures must be rejected.
—Noel Due, Created For Worship: From Genesis to Revelation to You, 234