Evangelical worship is in transition. In much of the current discussion and argument, we focus too often on whether or not forms are seeker-friendly or on the merits of contemporary praise songs (as contrasted with traditional hymns). But there is a core issue at stake in how evangelicals understand worship, writes Gary Burge: how we encounter God in corporate worship.
Burge uses his varied experienceraised Lutheran, enlivened in the Jesus movement, ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), worshiping at an Evangelical Covenant church, and teaching New Testament at the interdenominational Wheaton College in Illinoisto offer a personal plea for addressing what is wrong with our Sunday mornings. Not everyone's faith tradition is reflected in his assumptions about worship, but we believe everyone will benefit from wrestling with the questions he raises.
Say "liturgy" and my evangelical college students have a reflex akin to an invitation to take a quiz. Say "mysticism" and they are drawn, fascinated, eager to see what I mean. They want spontaneity yet drift toward the Episcopal church. They carry NIV study Bibles but are intrigued by experiments in prayer, Christian meditation, spiritual disciplines honed in the medieval world, and candlelit sanctuaries. Some play the Chant CD endlessly. Os Guinness, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Richard Foster might all inhabit the same book bag.
Karen is typical of these students. She grew up in a large, independent Bible church in the Midwest where she attended every youth camp and mission trip her family could find. Her role models came from the glossy pages of Campus Life. When she came to Wheaton College, she attended a large, influential, conservative evangelical church. But ...1