Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Experiential Worship

Here's an excerpt from the introduction in the book "Experiential Worship" by Bob Rognlien (www.experientialworship.com). Has anyone read this book or ever heard of Bob Rognlien?

Owning Up to Our Present Story

Biblical worship is a life-changing encounter with God himself, moving us to give all that we are back to our Creator. However, we realize that these kinds of encounters are best-case scenarios and do not reflect the effect of typical worship services today. Even if we do occasionally witness key turning points taking place during our gatherings, far too rarely do we see in the lives of those who worship regularly the incremental changes that constitute an ongoing process of spiritual transformation.

In the majority of our churches, life-changing experiences, even incremental ones, are more the exception than the rule. If we are honest, we will admit that our services can easily slip into meaningless rote, driven more by habit than spiritual passion, and that many people attend every week and leave unchanged.

This worship impotence is not due to lack of effort. Most of us put tremendous energy into planning and leading meaningful worship experiences. Many are willing to make sacrifices and endure criticism in order to create an environment in which people can worship God and be touched by his Spirit. But for all our effort, the lack of actual changed lives can be a crushing disappointment to those who give so much. [ed: AMEN!]

The way out of this predicament is to rediscover the wide range of historical worship traditions and learn how to connect them to our emerging culture. We are in the midst of nothing less than an epochal transition, a tectonic social shift, a cultural revolution that is birthing a world we call “postmodern” because we can only describe what it is not. [ed: I think this is very eloquent and well said] Like fish unaware of the sea they swim in, we have often planned and led worship without recognizing the impact of our changing cultural environment. But now the currents have shifted. No longer is the water flowing in the direction of the traditions we inherited. If we do not learn to navigate these new waters differently, we will be swept away by this relentless tide of cultural change.


Joe B said...

Void, thanks for a great post! I'll need to chew this over a bit.

scott said...

Interesting post -- that does sound like a great book. I don't have as huge of an investment in (and passion for) "worship leading" as you do, but I do see the same issues as are presented here. I'm eager to see how things might change in the future.

Although... Regarding the lack of "changed lives" during worship: When I am *participating* in worship (rather than "leading," up on stage), I am becoming aware that it can be counterproductive for me to focus too much on those around me rather than focusing on Jesus and myself. Granted, worship can be a wonderful communal experience, and I greatly enjoy worshiping with other people that have a passion for it. But when I'm with people that DON'T have that passion? That shouldn't stop me from worshiping.

It might be disheartening to see people that aren't fully engaged, but if I'm focusing on that, I'm disengaging MYSELF. And I'm taking my eyes off what should be the focus of worship anyways.

I only mention it because it can be a problem for me, and I have no doubt it can be a problem for others as well.