In my intensive this week at United Theological Seminary, I found myself pondering the question of what makes United Methodist worship United Methodist. In what ways should worship in a United Methodist setting be shaped by our particular history, tradition, and doctrine?
I can’t fully articulate my response yet, but my answer will be shaped heavily by doctrine.
United Methodism is grounded in a Wesleyan soteriology. We believe God’s grace is at work in fallen humanity awakening, convicting, justifying, and sanctifying us. Worship is a place and time of encounter, reception, and response to that grace.
Because of our particular emphasis on the need for human response to divine grace, our worship should have a noticeable accent on the congregational response to revelation. We do not gather merely to proclaim God’s glory and be awe-struck by God’s majesty. We are brought in the worship encounter to an opportunity to cooperate with grace, to deepen holy habits, and to bear fruit. Or we should be.
I will be asking myself in coming months how the services I lead put an accent on grace and response.
I will also be looking for ways to highlight the Holy Spirit. We are the movement that birthed holiness and pentecostalism. The Holy Ghost should not be a stranger to us.
I know we can put too much emphasis on what makes us distinct and lose the small “c” catholic spirit, but I think it does help us understand what it means to be a Christian when we try to connect what we believe to be we worship.
What do you think makes worship United Methodist?