Bishop and Christian*, October 2014

How are your feelings related to your worship? That is a question that is behind many of the arguments in the church related to worship. Talk to enough people from various congregations and it will not be long before you come up against a division between those who, on the one hand, know that they have been to church if they feel good, or different, or forgiven and, on the other hand, those who do not seem to care whether they feel anything at all. The division can be seen most clearly when someone leaves a particular (“stale,” “dead,” “boring”) congregation for another (“refreshing,” “alive,” “exciting”) one in which the Spirit seems to be moving more noticeably. What is striking about those conversations is that the descriptive words are completely tied to individual perception: that is, for worship to be good, everything depends on the feelings of the individual who is participating in the worship experience. If someone does not feel (there’s that word again) that he or she “got anything” from the service, and if this experience goes on long enough, such a person may be inclined to seek out a church where something (the “something” is rather ambiguous) is “gotten.” You may recognize a friend or a family member—or yourself—in that description.

Continue reading