Vital Worship Team

Our team has been asked by Council to (1) lead us as a congregation in a year of prayer, listening, and learning around worship revitalization and (2) propose a unified vision for worship at the AACRC leading out of this year. Council gave us permission to ask all sorts of good questions about our worship, and we love worship in its many shapes and forms, so this journey is a joy.

What you can expect on our Vital Worship Journey in the next few months:
> Monthly learning sessions for the congregation
> Weekly emails with news and reflective questions
> Monthly newsletter articles in On Broadway
> Accessibility to team members at vitalworship@aacrc.org

Our task has two dimensions: the spiritual aspect of how our worship reflects and informs our faith and community, and the practical aspect of what we need to do to continue to thrive as a worshipping congregation at 1717 Broadway in Ann Arbor moving out of 2018. The two are intricately interwoven.

The Vital Worship Team: Jen Boes, Tanya Boldenow, Sue De Zeeuw, Tim Geerlings, John Groen, George Lindquist, Mike Waldyke

 
 

Ten Core Convictions on Worship

On the tenth anniversary of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in 2007, we identified ten core principles and practices to present as our central convictions about vital Christian worship.

These ten core convictions are not innovations. They are timeless truths from Scripture and the rich history of Christian worship. Today, each conviction remains theologically crucial, pastorally significant, and culturally threatened. The importance of one or all of these convictions risks being obscured by cultural trends outside the church, and disputes about the mechanics and style of worship within the church. This attempt to reiterate and reinforce the importance of these ten core convictions will lead, we pray, to more fruitful (if not necessarily easier) conversations about the meaning and practice of Christian worship.

These ten criteria are applicable not only in specific cultural settings. They have as much to say about corporate worship offered in Kenya or Korea as in Canada or the United States. They are the kind of questions that apply to contextual ministry in any setting.

They are also theological. They emerge not only out of historical study or aesthetic preference, but also out of reflection on the mystery of the gospel that Christians proclaim. Long-term vital worship doesn’t come out of singing a little faster, praying a little harder, or making worship a bit more proper or a bit more fun. Vital worship can issue only from the depth and mystery of the gospel that Christians proclaim. Christian worship is strongest when it is integrally and self-consciously related to the person and work of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Christian worship is immeasurably enriched by:
1. a vivid awareness of the beauty, majesty, mystery, and holiness of the triune God
2. the full, conscious, active participation of all worshipers, as a fully intergenerational community
3. deep engagement with scripture
4. joyful and solemn celebrations of baptism and the Lord’s Supper
5. an open and discerning approach to culture
6. disciplined creativity in the arts
7. collaboration with all other congregational ministries
8. warm, Christ-centered hospitality for all people
9. intentional integration between worship and all of life
10. collaborative planning and evaluation

10 Core Convictions…

Reset Year, New worship time, Advent…
Vital Worship Team…

March 18, 2018
Core Conviction #1: Christian worship is immeasurably enriched by a vivid awareness of the beauty, majesty, mystery, and holiness of the triune God

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. (Psalm 63:2)

Worship cultivates our knowledge and imagination about who God is and what God has done. Worship gives us a profound awareness of the glory, beauty, and holiness of God. Each element of worship can be understood through a Trinitarian framework. Worship renewal is best sustained by attention to the triune God we worship.

March 22, 2018
Core Conviction #2: Christian worship is immeasurably enriched by the full, conscious, active participation of all worshipers, as a fully intergenerational community

Worship is not just what ministers, musicians, and other leaders do; it is what all worshipers “do”—through the work of the Spirit in worship. In vital worship, all worshipers are involved in the actions, words, and meaning of worship.
God’s covenant promises endure “from generation to generation.” Worship that arises out of an intentionally intergenerational community, in which people of all ages are welcomed as full participants, and whose participation enriches each other, reflects that worship breaks down barriers of age.

They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had given to Israel. Then Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. . . the Levites, helped the people to understand the law, while the people remained in their places. So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. . . And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (Nehemiah 8:1, 6, 7, 8, 12)

Young men and women alike, old and young together! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven. (Psalm 148:12-13)

April 5, 2018
Core Conviction #9: Christian worship is immeasurably enriched by intentional integration between worship and all of life

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)

Worship fosters natural and dynamic connections between worship and life, so that the worship life of Christian congregations both reflects and shapes lives of grateful obedience, deeply engages with the needs of the world, including such specific areas as restorative justice, care for the earth, and many other areas.

April 12, 2018
Core Conviction #8: Christian worship is immeasurably enriched by warm, Christ-centered hospitality for all people
A central feature of worship is that it breaks down barriers to welcome all worshipers, including persons with disabilities, those from other cultures, both seekers and lifelong Christians, and others.

Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.(Romans 12:13)

April 19, 2018
Core Conviction #5: Christian worship is immeasurably enriched by an open and discerning approach to culture

Worship should strike a healthy balance among four approaches or dimensions to its cultural context: worship is transcultural (some elements of worship are beyond culture), contextual (worship reflects the culture in which it is offered), cross-cultural (worship breaks barriers of culture through worship), and counter-cultural (worship resists the idolatries of its cultural context).

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” (Matthew 5:13)

They sing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelations 5:9)

May 4, 2018
Core Conviction #7: Christian worship is immeasurably enriched by collaboration with all other congregational ministries

Congregational worship is mutually enriching to the full range of congregational ministries, including pastoral care, education, spiritual formation, and witness.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)

Expanding the Conversation: Knitting Together Worship and Congregational Life
Learning Worship Together: How worship change happens

May 10, 2018
Core Conviction #3:Christian worship is immeasurably enriched by deep engagement with scripture

The Bible is the source of our knowledge of God and of the world’s redemption in Christ. Worship should include prominent readings of Scripture, and engage worshipers through intentional reading practices, art, and music. It should present and depict God’s being, character, and actions in ways that are consistent with scriptural teaching. It should follow biblical commands about worship practices, and it should heed scriptural warnings about false and improper worship. In particular, Christian worship should be deeply connected to its ancient roots in psalmody.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

May 18, 2018
Core Conviction #4:Christian worship is immeasurably enriched by joyful and solemn celebrations of baptism and the Lord’s Supper

The sacraments are physical signs of God’s nourishing action in creation through the Holy Spirit. In baptism God puts his covenant mark on his children, adopts them into the church, and calls them to a lifetime of dying and rising with Christ. In the Lord’s Supper, God physically and spiritually feeds his people. These celebrations are not just ceremonies, but gifts of grace and signs of God’s ongoing work.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:3-5)

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17)