Hi, church

So, I just returned from The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod’s Institute on Liturgy, Preaching, and Church Music (http://www.lcms.org/events/worshipinstitute) in Seward, NE. This was my first time going to an LCMS-sponsored conference. I am a worship leader at Trinity Lutheran Church in Sauk Rapids, MN (an LCMS congregation) so, I thought it would be smart to learn within my denomination!

Truth be told, I have shied away from LCMS sponsored events. Most Lutheran churches hold “high church” on Sunday mornings. What is “high church”? It is an adjective meaning “favoring (especially in Anglican worship) the sacerdotal, liturgical, ceremonial, and traditional elements in worship.” Whoa, even the Merriam-Webster definition is a bit “high church”!

At my church, our early service is pretty “high church”. My colleague leads the early/traditional service and I lead the late/contemporary service. Let me go on record here to say that I am just fine with the fact that some people prefer “high church”. I, personally, do not. In a term my husband coined in one of our many talks about the Lutheran Church and worship styles, he called the contemporary service we lead “hi, church.”

What is our definition of “hi, church”? Something like this: “combining the traditional elements of worship with the ‘new song’ of today’s church.” That definition could sure use a lot of exploring and, we’ll go there. Just not on this post:-)

At the LCMS worship conference, the worship services were about 99% “high church” – the one exception being a 4 part choral rendition of “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Stuart Townend. Many of the plenary speakers warned against the practice of contemporary worship. And, for those session leaders that dared broach the subject of contemporary worship (1 brave soul out of hundreds of presenters), we were still encouraged to use the hymnal as our primary resource for planning our services. Is this a true representation of our denomination? No. So, why the deliberate “glossing over” of contemporary/modern worship that goes on in our own denomination? Why not recognize its presence and be intentional about teaching and leading the way to do it well? You know, in a Colossians 3:23-24 way:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (NIV)

What are your thoughts on “high church”? How about “hi,church” as I have defined it here?

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