Saturday, September 6, 2008

Traditional Worship for Contemporary People

I don't know why or how I came to be receiving e-mail from Bob Pierson. But I do think it's a bit humorous how the trend in "spirituality" and worship is coming back around to the "traditional."

At this point, I'm not certain what Pierson means by "traditional worship" -- and I don't have time to check it out -- but in my nearly 25 years of being a called-and-ordained pastor, the historic liturgy is the service I've always conducted in caring for Christ's people with Word and Sacrament. I'm still using the 1940's edition of The Lutheran Hymnal.

What I find funny in all this is that aficionados in The Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod (LCMS), the church body with which I am affiliated, usually runs 15 to 20 years behind the curve, trying to keep up with the rest of popular American Christian trends. Currently, the majority of congregations in the LCMS are still trying their hand at a 1970's-1980's style "Contemporary Worship," either going full-tilt with an anti-liturgical, unvestmented, karaoke-Christian praise service, or an attempt to blend contemporary with traditional.

In about 20 years, the LCMS gurus who are hip will be trending back to some form of "traditional worship," learning from their highly-paid non-Lutheran poll-mongering consultants that that is what people want. They'll move back towards that for all the wrong reasons while I and a few others will remain doing what the church has always been doing, and doing well.

In case you're interested, here is the e-mail I received today:

Dear colleague,

There are many churches all across America that use traditional worship as their primary way of doing worship services. Jim Bankston, pastor of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Houston believes in the importance of traditional worship and St. Paul’s does only traditional worship. The large United Methodist Church I served for over 30 years in Tulsa does both traditional and contemporary worship. We are both committed to finding ways to do traditional worship better. We believe it will make a significant difference for the church to be able to improve the quality of traditional worship.

Therefore, we are holding a national conference on November 11-13, 2008 called Traditional Worship for Contemporary People. The event will be held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Houston and features some of the great, practical experts on traditional worship. Although this conference has been designed primarily out of the United Methodist tradition, we want to respect all the customs of traditional worship. We hope that you will come to the conference and enjoy it. You can view the brochure and more information at Feel free to make copies of the brochure for your friends, or forward this email to them. There are many aspects of the conference that will add unusual excitement and effectiveness to any traditional worship service.

Please email me if you have any questions. You can register by mail or online at I hope you will begin that process as soon as possible and get the early discount!

Yours in Christ,
Bob Pierson
Executive Director
Leadership Nexus
7103 S Columbia Place
Tulsa, OK 74136
Cell: 918-809-7489
Office: 918-477-7549



Kurt Onken said...

My mother attends an LCMS congregation in Southern California. It has 1 traditional liturgical service (which she attends) and 3 contemporary. She informed me that recently, one of the contemporary services has been converted back to a traditional the request of the majority of the folks who attend.

Now I'm not one to say that pastors always should go with "majority rule" when it comes to worship practices, but I thought the fact that the people were requesting more traditional worship speaks volumes.

Neil W. said...

I pray there won't be a day that people start using the liturgy because it seems new and unfamiliar. Although, no worries, they won't return to liturgy. They will go to what they've been convinced to be ancient. They will join emergent worship. How much must God's chosen people pollute his churches with what is popular, rather than what is best.