The Worship Quote of the Week for (07/17/2001):

Authentic Worship
Todayís WORSHIP QUOTE is another from STONES FOR BREAD, a new book by Daniel Frankforter. Although the subtitle is "A Critique of Contemporary Worship," I think the book is really "Thoughtless Worship, Old and New" because the author spends significant time challenging those who bow to tradition rather than to the Lord of the Ages.

If Christian worship is to be both relevant and authentic, worshipers must do more than drag the things of the world into the church. They must find a way to relate those things to the ancient legacy of biblical faith and to the long tradition that has preserved that legacy. Authentic worship always involves review of the story of Godís long journey with his people. That story needs constantly to be translated anew, but just as a good translation never distorts the original text, a service rooted in biblical faith never ignores the paradoxical poles of Godís revelation. It never offers worshipers the highs
of love without the terrors of judgment.

A church that sets out to win over the world is tempted to divest itself of everything that might offend the world, to promise forgiveness without confession and renewal without repentance. It markets joy without awe and love without accountability for justice. Some compromise is inevitable, but a congregation needs to be aware of the point at which its compromises begin it serve itself more than God.

ó A. Daniel Frankforter. STONES FOR BREAD: A CRITIQUE OF CONTEMPORARY WORSHIP. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, p. 104. ISBN 0-664-22284-6

[The title is obviously taken from Jesusí words in Matthew 7:9-10 and Luke 11:11-12 (Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?). This insightful book is highly recommended for pastors and worship planners who need to be reminded of the crucial parameters of authentic Christian worship. CAUTION: The ratio of good questions to good answers is at least 30:1. Do not read this book if you are unwilling to have your "sacred cows" challenged.]

Have a great week,

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky