21st Century Worship Ideas Should…

I’ve decided to repost this particular piece, as it garnered some interesting dialogue outside of the blogosphere, and I’d like to deepen some of its ideas with feedback. Feel free to offer comment, again or for the first time, this time around:

The following list is by no means complete, nor the first to be attempted by any means, but after our class today in Leadership In Ancient & Emerging Worship Practice, a few of these ran through my heart and head.

I’ve decided that, with continued reflection, I will continue to add to this list, and eventually, I would like to explore each topic in possibly a book, visual or audio format. It may emerge as a central “processing place” for the Worship And Arts Institute.


Nurture healthy theological views that celebrate and centralize on God in His revealed attributes,

affirm that all of life is an encountering ground with God, and the basis for the human response to God that is worship,

dignify the human person and bring rehumanizing elements into all matters of worship aesthetics,

facilitate personal and corporate dependence on God,

deny the modernist, dualistic worldview that affirms the concept of the secular, in space, people or ideology, as existing in a substantial way apart from the sacred,

emphasize the sacredness of all of life in a way that embraces the brokeness of the world,

unswervingly elevate ideas of biblical and scriptural truth in a variety of forms,

enhance memorization and quick recall of the biblical narrative and living text,

involve and explore more than simply auditory or literary formats,

affirm the human need for ritual, repetitition and predictability (to a degree) to reinforce worldview,

leave room for miracle and divine intervention and interaction,

revisit the concepts of sacrament and community participation in worship expression,

create multiple spaces for multi-level response to God,

discerningly incorporate ancient patterns and worship forms, liturgical/historical wisdom and expressions, and both current gifts in worship forms (such as contemporary worship music) and multi-cultural forms (both inside and outside of the western experience),

affirm the Jewish roots of the story we embrace,

re-narrate and re-tell the message of the Kingdom of God in fresh idioms,

affirm a faith language based on action and followership over and against a faith based primarily on the language of belief,

highlight the scriptures beyond just the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus; the entirety of the biblical story, and the stories of Jesus’ way among us should be creatively retold,

center our ecclesiology and communication on the Kingdom rather than the church, the community’s life in the world rather than only focusing on personal salvation (vital as it is),

illuminate that a realm we cannot see or touch exists around us, involving both forces of good and forces of evil (i.e. it should be discerning, and understand the power of spiritual forces in the world that we cannot “see or touch”),

affirm the alternative way of living and being that Jesus modeled,

affirm an alternative social order that is centered on Jesus’ teaching, and is teased apart from ethnocentrism, nationalism and political partisanship,

teach and train via various media content,

leave space and create room for mystery, wonder and personal interaction within communal worship, often by humanizing devotional spaces and reimagining the idea of sacred space by invoking art, architecture, taste, smell and other sensory experience,

embrace non-linear formats for devotional worship, communal care, and narrative story-telling,

affirm the roles of science, art and all forms of human endeavor in the language of worship,

and continue to look beyond solely western-based ideas of worship expression/experience for inspiration.


Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms

Sheltering Mercy, along with its companion volume, Endless Grace, helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 1-75, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and foil-stamped hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms.