I am interested in worship and formation, with an emphasis on the history, theology, and practice of contemporary and charismatic expressions of praise and worship. My dissertation brings the ancient theological insights of St. Augustine in conversation with modern critiques of contemporary praise and worship in order to suggest that contemporary praise and worship is uniquely capable of developing worshippers’ orthopathy, shaping the emotional aspect of our spiritual formation.
By exploring the growing and changing role of Contemporary Praise & Worship music on the WOW compilation albums, we hope to better understand the shifting role of worship itself within the American evangelical marketplace. In particular, we focus on two significant and interrelated changes that took place during the early decades of the twenty-first century: first, Contemporary Christian Worship (CCW) music (aka “praise and worship music”) overtaking Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) within the Christian music industry; and second, a shift in the understanding and practice of worship away from being a communal activity bound to church services and toward becoming an activity that can be engaged individually outside the church.
In this article, I revisit the framework and method proposed by James F. White for studying Protestant worship traditions and suggest that one problem inherent in his method is the positioning of Charismatic worship as a distinct tradition with its own distinctive way of worship. I argue that Charismatic worship is best understood not as a tradition unto itself, but in terms of a piety that transcends worship traditions. Such an understanding reflects the fluidity of Charismatic worshipers’ movement between traditions and widens our field of study to include instances of Charismatics at worship that are quickly recognized as such, as well as instances that appear to have no Charismatic influence at all.
Drawing on the work of liturgical theologians and network theorists, I revisit the role of the liturgical event in the wider life of the church, arguing that the liturgical event remains a central element of the church’s mission, but that the liturgy is meant to take worshippers beyond itself. I suggest that pandemic reflections on liturgy should lead the church to emphasize that Christians are a sent people, even during a time of restricted movement. This shift in emphasis from gathering to sending out redefines the church more broadly and helps us reclaim a more expansive vision of worship beyond the mere event.
"During Lent and beyond, the discipline of fasting ultimately invites us to a way of life – a commitment to avoid self-gratification and pride in all areas of our lives and to seek first the kingdom of God and join Christ in the work that he is doing to renew this broken world."
Where does one go to find God? Quite commonly, a place of worship. Even people who aren’t sure if God exists seek divine help in churches and mosques and cathedrals because such religious buildings are understood as sacred spaces. If God does exist, surely God will be found in these holy places.
This understanding of sacred space poses a problem in a global pandemic, however. Where does one go to find God when those religious buildings are closed? And beyond the pandemic, it challenges communities of faith to think in new ways.
Worship is a central activity of congregations everywhere. A survey conducted during the first two months of the outbreak in North America showed that pastors’ top priority was to find a way to continue their weekend worship services in the midst of the chaos. For those of us who believe that worship is the center of congregational life, this seems like a natural move. But what happens when that center is removed? Is there more?