With Guest Brannon Hancock, Ph.D. (Indiana Wesleyan/Wesley Seminary)
I asked good friend Brannon Hancock to write about the catalytic influence a deeper treatment of the Sacraments (visible signs of an inward grace), such as the Eucharist and Baptism, could have in a contemporary church’s worship life. With 10 reframing ideas, Brannon opens a sacred box for us all.
Could a generation ripe for “embodied stories” be craving worship that prioritizes the physical and the ritual to to engage the emotional and the cerebral? A generation swimming in emphases on the empirical and the immanent (see James K.A. Smith’s and Charles Taylor’s work) is responding to tangible worship practices and the enacted stories found in sacramental approaches.
Here are Brannon’s top 10 ideas, and every one opens up a world of its own. +
A Theological Course Correction For Worship Leaders And Pastors
The following is, I submit, a theological course correction necessary for Worship Leaders and Pastors who lead in settings that intentionally welcome the Holy Spirit to be “manifest” as we engage in worship. It is for those who love when the presence of the Holy Spirit is experienced, at all levels, by a community who has gathered to worship.
First of all, let me affirm this: I love the Holy Spirit. I also love when the Holy Spirit is manifest in a room in a palpable way, and people are responding (aided by expressions of worship) to the invisible, yet overwhelming, presence of the living, loving, ever-present God.
But as pastors and worship leaders, we have a responsibility to think about the way we talk about that experience to our congregations. We may mean one thing theologically, but when we’re not careful with our words, we communicate another. Theological ideas can be helpful or unhelpful to the discipleship of Christians – what we believe about God and how He works – and the following addresses what I believe to be a theologically faulty way of talking about God’s presence in any given worship environment.
Do We Bring The Presence Of God When We Lead Worship?
Here is my answer: We don’t “bring” the Presence of God by our music, worship, messages, or prayers.
I believe such language is theologically faulty, and confuses Christians when we use it. It suggests that we ourselves are the primary actors in the worship story, and that our actions precipitate whether or not the omnipresent God is “there” or not.
My hands were folded over my throat as I sat in the chair, quietly praying, and waiting for the doctor to enter. I was scheduled to have surgery the next week, and this was my pre-procedure scope. As the scope descended into my larynx and the ENT and I watched the screen, neither of us was prepared for what we would see next.
[Listen To The Full Audio Sermon below]
An Unforeseen Honk
I’ve been working my voice hard for over 25 years. As a songwriter, speaker, worship leader, radio communicator, and voiceover artist, I’ve made a living from my voice for decades. However, the winter previous, I pushed my voice to its limits – and the result left me with a damaged voice.
A large cyst had formed on the left side of a my vocal cord, and a small node on the right.
In Mark 11:1-11, Jesus is entering the Great Jerusalem, meaning “City of Shalom, City of completeness, wholeness, of God’s all-permeating Peace.” But as the Prince of Peace enters – the Prince of Shalom Himself – a holy mess is about to be made.
Jesus marks the beginning of His Passion week, as crowds before Him, crowds behind Him, and crowds all around Him voice a singular cry: “Hosanna!” – a cry of triumphant praise, that means “Save, now!” But no one is prepared for the kind of saving, the kind of rescue operation, the kind of deliverance mission about to be initiated by the One whose very name, Y’shua, means “The Lord saves.”
No Meme, Post, Lyric, Or Teaching Will Change A Destiny.
If we believe a Gospel of words will change our culture, we are misguided. It is a Gospel of power that changes lives. Lives changed by the power of God, in turn, create a culture that has the power to change culture.
Words convey powerful ideas, but no meme, post, lyric, or teaching will change a destiny. It is the Spirit’s power working through words, or perhaps more accurately, words formed by and articulating the leading Gospel of power, that will bring transformation.