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

Shunning Sameness

If worship is always entirely exuberant or always entirely solemn, we send the message to God’s people that only certain emotions are religiously acceptable.  But God invites us to bring our whole selves to worship—surely the chaotic emotions expressed in the book of Psalms amply demonstrate this.  In the presence of God, as God’s people, we can feel sadness, joy, contrition, thankfulness, peace, grief, agitation, anger, reverence, assurance, determination, and every nuance of human experience.  Using vivid language avoids a kind of bland sameness that associates being in worship only with a detached pose of religiosity. 

—Debra and Ron Rienstra, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry, 34

Perfect Worship

Though we rightly desire to give God our best, God’s favor toward us does not depend on our reaching the threshold of excellence. On the contrary, God’s attitude toward our worship exemplifies grace and acceptance. As theologian James B. Torrance explains, our worship does not have to be perfect because it is perfected through Christ. 

—Debra and Ron Rienstra, Worship Words25