Pastoral Worship

In an earlier time, a pastor caring for his flock, engaging in the activities related to the cure of souls meant, in great part, leading them in worship.  There is much truth to the Jesuit liturgical scholar Jungmann’s sweeping statement that “for centuries, the liturgy, actively celebrated, has been the most important form for pastoral care.” 

—William Willimon, Worship as Pastoral Care, 35

The Word in Prayer and Song

All too many free-church prayers and hymns have forsaken biblical imagery in favor of a host of frivolous, superficial, pop psychological jargon and cliches that chatter about “celebration,” “becoming human,” “finding ourselves,” “being free to be you and me,” and other amorphous trivialities. This is particularly tragic among those whose forebears once felt that the presence and guidance of Scripture in worship was something worth dying for.

—William H. Willimon, The Bible: A Sustaining Presence in Worship, 14

The Word in Worship

A look at the average Sunday service today in the average Protestant church reveals, in the words of James D. Smart, a “strange silence of the Bible in the church.” The Bible is not read in the worship of most Protestant churches in any systematic way. The Old Testament is often omitted altogether. Thus, the preacher recanonizes Scripture to suit his or her own taste. When bits and pieces of the New Testament are read, they function mainly as a textual springboard for an often unbiblical sermon. This relative silence of Scripture is surprising, particularly when it is within those churches who pride themselves in being “biblical” churches. We Protestants are supposed to be people of the Book, followers of the Word. But the average Methodist, Baptist, or Presbyterian church would be put to shame in its treatment of Scripture by the worship of the average Roman Catholic church—which reads three lessons every Sunday.

William H. Willimon, The Bible: A Sustaining Presence in Worship, 14