Recently we’ve had two good conversations about the liturgical turn of low church evangelical Christians. So today I ask: What can be done about it? One option is to ignore the turning folks and carry on with what we’ve got. I suspect most will just let it happen in that way. For some of us, we’d like to see a marriage of the two. What will it look like? I’d like to hear your thoughts, but here are mine:
First, we need to have churches that self-consciously tie themselves to two Stories: the Story of the Bible and the Story of the Church.
Second, we need to have churches that are capable of constantly reforming in light of the Story of the Bible and in continuity with the Story of the Church. Those who reform without those two connections, both of them, are just mavericks.
Third, we need to have churches that express the gospel in our day and in our way that sustains its life from the Story of the Bible and in continuity with the Story of the Church. The biblical model is not one of simple repetition of the faith of our fathers and mothers but of re-engagement in a new day of the faith of our fathers and mothers. Jesus didn’t repeat Isaiah; he took Isaiah to a new level. Paul didn’t repeat Jesus; he applied Jesus to the Roman empire. Hebrews didn’t repeat Paul; he engaged Jesus in the creative metaphor of temple worship.
Here are a few suggestions:
Ask for teaching and preaching that covers the whole Bible — thus, think about whether the lectionary just might be good for your church for a few years. Ask for weekly oral reading of large chunks of the Bible.
Expect your pastor to connect his or her sermons to Ignatius, Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, etc … not just to Luther or Calvin but to the whole Church.
Ask for Sunday School classes on Church History. Ask a Lutheran to teach Luther for a few weeks; ask a priest to come to class to teach Aquinas.
Discern whether your church has changed over the last 25 years. If not, ask why.
Ask for sermons to find creative metaphor for what is happening in our world.
What are your ideas?