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What is Convergence worship?; the three streams explained
Topic Started: Aug 5 2008, 06:07 PM (2,304 Views)
DeanZF
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Resident Rebbi

Possibly "the" basic tenet of the Charismatic Episcopal Church is the vision of reuniting the three primary branches or focuses or styles of the three major subsets of Christian parish or congregational life. Ours is one of only a very few movements (for lack of a better word) that is committed to being Sacramental, Evangelical, and Charismatic. Many individual congregations openly express interest in being perhaps two of these three, but rarely are all three found in a parish. Unless it happens to be a CEC parish whose rector is committed to keeping all three streams moving together.

Sacramental: where the Sunday service is a liturgy with the main focal point being Communion, from the Table. Call it "The Lord's Supper", Eucharist, or Mass, it is a well-defined service with regular and occasional or seasonal components to it. There are several accepted liturgies and several variations on those. For most parishes in the CEC, it would almost seem to be a dominant stream, while for others, the Eucharistic liturgy is the framework on which our worship is pinned. I like to use the analogy of stud walls for a house. The basic frame is set, but it's flexible enough so that the celebrant can respond instantly to the Spirit's leading and then come back to the framework to continue the service; different colored walls & windows & siding, even different wall placements, but still the same basic superstructure. Helena likes the analogy of a loom with the basic threads in place. The Master Weaver is the Holy Spirit Who can then blend in different colors and textures to create a brand new, ever different tapestry of worship to our God.

Evangelical: where the Sunday service is usually heavily centered on teaching and equipping. There is often still a form of liturgy in these services, but Communion takes a different focus, often monthly, quarterly, or even annually. It is not the central focus of these congregations. That focus is about being hearers and doers of the Word. And as this label implies, many evangelical parishes are also very focused on making converts and/or disciples. Decisions for Christ, as renowned evangelist Billy Graham has come to call them. Interface with the world, expose them to the Gospel, to the Jesus that lives in you, pray that they see the need in their lives, answer their questions, pray that sinner's prayer, get them into the Word and the Word into them, then help them become life-long disciples, equipping them to help THEM find others in need.

Charismatic: where the Sunday service is somewhat like the Evangelical service above, but there is a bit more of a focus on the person and the deeds of the Holy Spirit, especially in the exercise of the Gifts of the Spirit in the typical Sunday service. There is often still a heavy emphasis on teaching and preaching, but ministry through signs and wonders and the encouragement to "walk in the Spirit" in our daily lives, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us in things large and small, to use His gifts through us to affect our world, even as tools for evangelism.

Enter the ICCEC, where born-again believers come together on a regular basis to share in the mysterious/mystical, real presence of Christ in the Sacramental Supper, to hear the Word, to be equipped, to operate in the Gifts of the Spirit and to receive ministry in those same gifts. It's an amazing thing, this ICCEC and convergence worship.
Blessings!

Dean
DeanZ
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DeanZF
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So, what does all of that mean for WORSHIP?

Worship is one of those words that means lots of things to lots of people. It's hard to discuss the ramifications of any philosophy or belief system within the context of the use of the word "worship", an oft used word that is used pretty loosely in a lot of places to describe what others would call the "song set" or "song service". Others use it to describe the whole congregational service on the chosen day, be it Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, morning or evening, weekend, weekday, or weekday night.

For the purpose of this discussion, we'll borrow some phrases from Dr. Simon Chan's play book, and a few other leading teachers on the subject. Most are paraphrases, but I believe they are true to their sources.

  • Worship is a response.
  • Worship is an action verb, not a noun.
  • Like most verbs, worship has both a subject and an object.
  • We are the subjects and God is the object of the worship.
And there are some things that are good and Godly activities, but simply are not worship. There are activities that can be done in worshipful environments, but that are not necessarily worship. Those activities come out of relationship. Relationship is a noun. My relationship to God is not worship. "Lifestyle" is a noun. My lifestyle is NOT worship. My lifestyle is BIRTHED out of my worship in response to the Object of my worship. Again, these examples are things that happen because of relationship, and as a natural function of that relationship, part of the normal daily dialogue of those in relationship. A few of those things might include:

  • Intercession
  • Thanksgiving
  • Petition
  • Asking questions and for wisdom or knowledge
So, again, how does all of this play into Convergence Worship?

Within the context of eucharistic liturgy, the liturgy provides a convenient structure on which to build a weekly or even daily worship "event". Some would suggest that the highest act of worship within western Christianity would be partaking of the Lord's Supper. Most segments of Christianity--denominations, or even some individual congregations--celebrate the Lord's Supper, but some at different levels of participation. That's not the point of discussion here. Most Christo-centric philosophies see the Table as a holy moment, a sacrament in their own definitions. When the whole service is about that Table, the songs, the readings, the responses, the whole service, often including the teaching or sermon, become clearly focused on that one historic, life-changing, world-changing event--"This is my body, broken for you. When you do this, do this to remember me."

Something will drive your services, whether they are indeed worship services, or if they are liturgical, or if they are teaching, equipping, or evangelistic services, or if they are ministry services that seem to spotlight or expect ministry through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. What's driving your services? Can you find a focus for the service instead of using a shotgun approach? I'm not saying that you have to have a "theme" for each service, or that you have to have this or that, but if your service has a focus, that focus will drive your service to a logical conclusion. Does that make sense to you? For those in liturgical services, the Table--the Eucharist or Communion--becomes a natural focus, and one with a broad range of possible angle to approach the service, but still within the context.

If yours is an evangelical service where the focus is on bringing people to Christ, how would you focus your service using music and movement that is addressed to Father, while still addressing the goal of decisions for Jesus? One thought is that people already have a general sense that they need something more and do not need to be told that. Rather one might think that those needy people need to hear about the awesomeness of a God who wants to be in relationship with them. We don't need to dumb down the music for the visitors. We actually need to beef it up! Ramp it up to extol the majesty and might of the One in Whom you want others to invest faith!

Same way for those whose services are more ministry oriented, including but not exclusively the mostly Charismatic congregations. Many of the churches birthed in the "Jesus Movement" days and the early days of the Charismatic Renewal had services that spent a lot of time singing songs that were really focused on the Godhead. Jesus songs, Spirit songs, and even songs that included the Father, too. The songs were mostly scripture passages, and most of them addressed the members of the Godhead. Holy hands were lifted TO God while the voices and hearts were lifted TO God! A good match, that activity. These were mostly NOT songs ABOUT God. Yes, there were some of those, but mostly they were TO Him. There was a focus.

In the last 10 to 15 years, there has been a real move away from the use of scripture songs toward songs that spend more time telling God about what I/we are going to do and how we feel and what we think. There is time and space for SOME of that, IMO, but only a little time and in limited ways. Again, IMO. Nothing wrong with "I love you Lord and I lift my voice". But what about "Here I am, look at me, consider me and that I'm gonna sing to You forever" songs? Where is the focus really? If the focus is on what *I* am going to do, is it still worship??

It's more than a heart attitude. It's more than lip service. It's more than relationship. Worship is action in reaction to our God and What and Who He is in our lives.
Blessings!

Dean
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