Excellence AND Authenticity

Excellence without authenticity is merely polish; authenticity without excellence devolves into sloppiness.  Either without the other is distracting and gets in the way of worship. 

——Ron and Debra Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, 25


Expecting God to Speak

Perhaps the question to ask is whether we actually expect God to speak. If we wish to invite worshipers into that expectation, then the opening words of the service are especially important. A blessing and invitation from God, in the words of Scripture, set the expectation that God is already speaking in this place, today. This prepares worshipers to hear God in any element of the service, even those not specifically thought of as God’s Word to us.

—Ron and Debra Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, 48

Off on the Right Foot

The opening lines of worship reveal much about the congregation’s notions of what worship is supposed to be and do. Just as the first minute can set the tone for a sports game, a business meting, a job interview, or a musical performance, so the opening words of a worship service communicate expectations that will influence worshipers’ experience of the whole service. Think about these opening words, and imagine what is being communicated in each case about what worship is:

“Alleluia, Sing to Jesus” (lyrics to an opening song)

Good morning, and welcome to worship!

There’s plenty of room up front:

Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We’re going to start now, so a bit of quiet please.

Hey, good morning.  I said good morning! Welcome to Vanguard Church. There seems to be a lot of energy in the room. Let’s start off by standing and singing “You Are Worthy.”

Grace to you, and peace, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(For the whole list of questions and to read worship reports, visit http://www.shipoffools.com/Mystery/index.html.)

—Debra and Ron Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, 48

The Tyranny of Style

Designing worship around style, however, can sometimes lead to an obsession with the present to the neglect of the past—or to only one particular past with little regard for the broader history of the church. We can easily forget those who have gone before us, even those who are worshiping earlier in the day than we are; this dishonors them and is unhealthy for us.

—Debra and Ron Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, 177

There’s a Wide World Out There

Worship leaders should begin by finding the center point of their congregation’s comfortable style, then stretch and expand outward from there, slowly and intentionally. It’s important not to overload with some kind of sudden global worship frenzy, but to be gracious about people’s learning curve.

—Debra and Ron Rienstra, Ron, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful MinistryChapter 10: “Something Borrowed, Worshiping with the Global Church,” 216

Forgetting the Corporate in Worship

Free-church Protestants have made worship almost entirely a place of devotional prayer.  In other words, we come to worship expecting a subjective, emotional, and individual experience of God’s presence.  We are looking for intimacy with God, and meanwhile the other people nearby—well, they’re doing the same thing for themselves.  We wind up having personal devotions together in the same room.

—Debra and Ron Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, 51