Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Worship Words: Too Important to Neglect - Joan Huyser-Honig in Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

Our words form us whether or not we pay attention to how they are doing so.  The church is starving for a richer picture of the God we worship. 

God speaks through Balaam's donkey and speaks through flawed humans.  So is using worship cliches or cliche practices that much of a problem, as long as we're sincere?

The answer = when your congregation's worship language includes only a couple names for or aspects of God, then worshipers receive an imbalanced understanding of God.

Worship language deserves far more attention than it gets in the average congregation.

Ron writes, "Christians frequently talk about salvation as 'inviting Jesus into my heart," as if the day you got saved, you made a bargain with God.  That's such an incomplete understanding of salvation and especially dangerous in our consumer culture."

Debra writes, "Our words form us whether or not we pay attention to how they are doing so.  Just as children quickly learn to speak with the vocabulary, tones, and inflections of their parents, so we learn to 'speak' our spiritual lives with the words and tones, with the emotional and theological range, of what we experience at worship.

"The [church] is starving for a richer picture of the [God] we worship," Debra writes.

To discuss how songs picture God, Worship Words quotes Lester Ruth's research on Trinitarian language in contemporary worship music. Ruth, who teaches worship and liturgy at Asbury Theological Seminary, used Christian Copyright Licensing Information (CCLI) top 25 song data from 1989-2004. (Many songs stayed so popular that only 72 songs made the list during that time).

None of the songs named the Trinity or God's triune nature. Just 3 songs mentioned all three persons of the Trinity.  Most named only Jesus.

This research demonstrates the difference between how God is spoken of in contemporary worship song and how the Bible speaks of God.

The full article is available here.