He had me at ‘gelatinous core’

Drew McIntyre is aghast to run across an account of a church practicing a “somewhat non-theistic” form of worship.

Read about it here. Bonus points if you sing the closing hymn out loud.

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John Wesley on worship

“In divine worship, (as in all other actions,) the first thing to be considered is the end, and the next thing is the means conducing to that end. The end is the honour of God, and the edification of the Church; and then God is honoured, when the Church is edified. The means conducing to that end, are to have the service so administered as may inform the mind, engage the affections, and increase devotion.”

— John Wesley, from his commentary on the Roman Catholic catechism

What makes worship United Methodist?

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?