Worship In-Between Theology and Practice


In BetweenThe fusion of congregants steeped in post-modernity with those longing for the comfort of modernity is reflected in the uncertainty of worship theology and its relationship to worship practice.  It is logical to assume that the desire for culturally relevant worship will parallel the nature of the prevailing culture.  When, however, most congregations consist of individuals from both worlds, which do we choose?

The transition to post-modernity was a comfortable progression for some, while others strain to hold on to the familiar tenets of modernity.  Conflicts arise as congregations attempt to find common ground between the two worlds in corporate worship practices.  This impasse has precipitated the initiation of multiple worship styled congregations in an attempt to meet the needs of all.  The longing of one generation for what worship was and the hope of another generation for what worship could be may be causing us all to miss worship in the in-between.

In his City to City Blog, Timothy Keller wrote, “To be faithful and fruitful, more Christian leaders should pay attention to this “middle space” between believing doctrine and choosing methods. The vast majority of resources on “how to do church” discuss either the Biblical basics of church belief and practice or specific ways to adopt certain ministry programs.”[1] (Follow the link at the end of this article to read Keller’s entire article titled: Ministry in the Middle Space)

Worship theologian, Robert Webber recognized that there are three predominant group responses to our uncertain relationship of worship cultures.  The first wants worship to be as it was.  Their response is to resist change and the incorporation of new.  The second response is that traditional is irrelevant and new is significant.  Webber offers a third option that respects tradition, while implementing worship styles formed by contemporary culture.  This convergence worship begins with a willingness to reopen all discussions related to worship.[2]  Webber continued with the explanation, “convergence worship is an alternative worship that is concerned for order and freedom, the historical and the contemporary, the verbal and the symbolic.[3]

Keller also wrote in Ministry in the Middle Space, “It has become clear to me that while most Christian leaders do very deliberate, conscious study and thinking to arrive at their doctrinal beliefs, they are almost blind to the process of developing a theological vision. They often just ‘catch’ their convictions about culture, reason, and tradition without really thinking them out. They come upon a ministry that they admire or that helps them personally and then they adopt it wholesale without recognizing the presuppositions, convictions and decisions that went into it.”[4]

Read Ministry in the Middle Space from “City to City Blog” by Timothy Keller


[1] Timothy Keller, Ministry in the Middle Space, “City to City Blog” Database on-line. Available from http://redeemercitytocity.com/blog/view.jsp?Blog_param=448.

[2] Robert E. Webber, ed., The Complete Library of Christian Worship Vol. 3, “The Renewal of Sunday Worship”  (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1993), 122.

[3] Ibid., 124.

[4] Keller, Ministry in the Middle Space.



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