Chapter four of David Fitch’s The Great Giveaway takes on a troubled and troubling dimension of corporate worship: the production of experience. Because of Fitch’s personal study of the history of liturgy and worship, and because of his experimentation and practical knowledge of the liturgical ideas stemming from Robert Webber’s works, this chapter is for me one of his more profound chapters. It pays rereading a few times. What is the “worship” service all abouit? Is it about the generation of experience or is about formation my participation in the Christian story? What do you think worship is?
In essence, Fitch sees two sorts of worship environments in evangelical churches: the lecture hall and the rock concert. The one is designed to stimulate thinking, personal reflection, and the other titillation of emotions.
The former deals with humans in a purely modernistic fashion: individuals capable of acquiring truths through propositions and words, but postmodernity has undercut the entire process and the hostile culture means that Christians are bombarded with symbol and culture throughout the week, and the one hour of sermon-shaped formation cannot adequately deal with the cultural process the current generation experiences.
The rock concert approach has been called into question because it is too often not shaped by a theology grounded in holiness and too often unaware that the emotive approach is under assaulty in postmodernity. Self-expression does not lead naturally to worship of God.
Fitch calls for immersive worship: a worship when the self is immersed in God’s goodness and glory so that the self is formed by the truth of God’s reality. (This section is brilliant.) Immersive worship involves:
1. Removing self from center: liturgical necessity.
2. Utilizes art: truth as beauty
3. Forms the Church: lex orandi, lex credendi (law of prayer, law of faith)
4. Involves the Alive Body: it becomes a cultural-linguistic mode of revelation
This approach transcends doctrinal orthodoxy and emotional expression to shape a holistic worship.
Fitch maintains that such an approach will embody and incarnate the truth of God’s revelation.
What can folks do?
1. Restore liturgy and make it accessible
2. Pattern worship after call and response
3. Revive the Church calendar
4. Reinvigorate the Eucharist
5. Use candles and other tactile symbols
6. Use the visual arts
7. Sing substantive music
8. See the sanctuary as an art gallery
This does not, he maintains, make evangelicals catholics!
I’m particularly interested in what you think of this set of ideas.