Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Why Young Evangelicals are going Liturgical

I have a confession to make;  I have been, and probably still am, a "sneaker."

Now, don't look so surprised.  There are a LOT of us and if you are a Beyond the Pale reader there is a chance you either are one...or may give it a try :)

So what is a "sneaker" you ask?

Well, I read an interesting blog post over at Adorate Worship about how many, mainly young people, are "sneaking" out of their evangelical / charismatic churches on the off Sunday to go hang out with the Catholics, Anglicans, and other more mainline denominations to participate in a little liturgical worship.

Now some of you reading this are wondering "Why on earth would anyone want to do that?"  Others of you reading this are nodding your head and whispering an "amen" because you know exactly why they're doing it!

I've been a Christian for 37 years now and remember the 1970s when the "sneaking" went the other way.  Catholics, Lutherans, & Methodists, bored by the monotony of traditional hymns and church organs, were "sneaking" into charismatic worship times for a little hand clapping, foot stomping "Hallelujah" action.  I remember being 10 years old and telling my Catholic friend Bobby, "Dude, we have electric guitars and church."

Oh, how the times have changed...

So why, after 30-40 add years where evangelical "praise and worship" has become the new "traditional",  do young evangelicals "sneak" off to more liturgical and corporate times of worship?  The blog piece at Adorate Worship suggests:

The reasons for this new wave of sneakers are obvious.  They’ve grown up dancing, so they long to kneel.  They’ve grown up with masterfully orchestrated services, so they long for worship that may be planned, but never rehearsed.  They’ve grown up with the latest, so they long for the oldest.  They’ve grown up with, “God is here, let’s celebrate!”   They long for “God is here, let’s kneel and be silent.” 
They’ve grown up being urged, “Now, everyone can just worship God however you might want.  Just let the Holy Spirit move you.  We are all different.”  So now some are seeking worship where the implied advice is, “Now, everyone leave your hyper-individuality at the door.  Let’s say words together.  Let’s make gestures together.  Stand together.  Kneel together.  Let’s listen to the wisdom the Holy Spirit has given over the centuries."
My own experience in "sneaking" started in 2004.  I attended the Pastor's meetings in Boulder, Colorado and one of the attending minister's was the priest from the local Catholic church.  The very fact that a Catholic priest wanted to join with his protestant brothers instantly warmed my heart to him.  His church was nearly walking distance from my house so one Sat. evening (yes, its easier to do this on a Sat. evening especially when you are "sneaking" away from your own church :) I went over with the family to check it out.

I LOVED it!  There was just a different atmosphere and feeling of reverence that I longed for.  It wasn't "better" per se.  It simply allowed my spirit to experience a form of worship to the Living God that for many in that service was "normal" but for me, at that moment, was new and refreshing.  It's like having eaten hamburgers every Sunday for 30 years and then biting into a nice hot dog.  A different flavor...a different texture.

A visit to the Catholic church became a semi-regular occurrence for me. I even "snuck" out to visit a liturgical Presbyterian church and was amazed that during the Lord's Supper there was ten minutes of silence for reflection. TEN MINUTES!  When was the last time you had corporate silence for 10 minutes  in a charismatic church service?

Not better...just different...


Michael said...

Our church can't seem to harbor 10 seconds of quiet during communion! There's always a song or video going.

Bob said...

I grew up in the Methodist Church (w/ a modest amount of liturgy) but went the Bible Church/non-denom. route after college. It's where I met my wife, who was Baptist, so it's always been a good fit for us.

I still enjoy going back to a more traditional church from time to time, especially one with a choir (even the ones that wear robes!) and classical music. And I find the liturgy moving and meaningful. It took growing up and being away from it for years to truly appreciate it.