Thursday, December 18, 2008

Five Ways to Worship

In reading through the Dallas Morning News this morning, I had to chuckle a bit at the advertisement for the Highland Park United Methodist Church. All Texans know about Highland Park--the toniest and wealthiest municipality in the state. It is completely enveloped by Dallas, and while the surrounding neighborhoods are just as affluent (if not more so), none carry the cache of Highland Park. This church is next to Southern Methodist University, and is only a stone (or shoe) throw away from the projected site of the George W. Bush Library.

The HPUMC message is "Five Ways to Worship...within One Church." And then they spell-out the options:

  • Traditional worship at 8:30, 9:30 and 11:00

  • Anglican-Style Worship in the chapel at 8:30 and 11:00

  • Contemporary worship in Wesley Hall at 9:30 and 11:00

  • preceeded by Early Morning Gospel Hour in the same hall at 8:30

  • and finally, Kerygma: A Teaching Service in the Great Hall at 11:00.

So, at HPUMC, you can be a traditional Methodist, a Angl0-Methodist, a hip Methodist, an old-time Methodist or a Bible school Methodist--or you can mix and match. The "Kerygma" class is designed to address hard-hitting issues, such as: "Was Jesus a disciple of John the Baptist?" Or "Did Jesus really perform miracles?" Or "Did Jesus provoke his own death?"

My point is this: considering the wealth of the Highland Park neighborhood, is it not odd that they offer merely 5 options for worship. Doesn't this seem, well, just a bit pedestrian? Surely their Marketing Department could offer the discriminating HP Methodist a few more choices, don't you think? Any suggestions?


Simply Victoria said...

why not a clown-liturgy like the catholics have been known to do?
they really need to study the competition a little more closely...

AMM said...

Went to the web site and noticed this.

Meadowlark Days said...

oh dear. this would've surprised me earlier, but now that I've lived in Houston for awhile, it kind of makes sense.

s-p said...

They missed Taize, contemplative silence, emergent "whatever we thought was cool yesterday at our worship committee meeting" and contemporary-feminist worship.

John said...

Making light of this sort of thing is just too easy these days--much like the proverbial "shooting fish in a barrel." The "clown liturgy" is now legendary. A few years ago, I recall seeing an upscale Presbyterian Church in Houston advertising a "Jazz Communion," followed, of course, by brunch. And then there was the picture of the Dallas Methodist minister leading her congregation in a conga line around the communion table. Like I say, waxing sarcastic about the excesses of American religious pluralism is just too easy. Those of us who, by the Grace of God, have been spared this, or removed from this sort of thing, have to be careful that we do not become prideful (speaking to myself here, primarily). But you just have to wonder if the congregants in these churches ever wonder "Is this all there is?"

s-p said...

I agree John, comments can come from a "gnostic snobbery". On the other hand you have to give folks the benefit of a less cynical assessement of their motives: I think for the most part both those who provide these services and those who attend are looking for something "spiritual". Otherwise they wouldn't be there at all. But it does seem to come down to a "consumerism of worship experience" and marketing to target markets. And in their minds Orthodoxy is just another esoteric product on the shelf to be chosen...which in one way it is.

Milton Burton said...

Looking for something spiritual? If so, they are going about it in a singularly idiotic fashion. I think they are looking for something trendy and "creative" in the way of making apologies to this utterly loathsome "inclusive & mulitcultural" world we live in for the audacity of still claiming to be Christian. The children of Israel were gibbering and griping right up to the banks of the Red Sea. Then Moses said, "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." One of the few euphemisms in the Bible. He really meant "Shut the f__k up and listen for a moment." I suppose he remembered that when God spoke from the burning bush, he spoke with "A still, small voice." Which is exactly what these liberal, uptown denominations need to do: Shut the f__k up. All this nonsense about Jazz services and the like is really saying, "Look at us, look at us!!!"

These uptown denominations

John said...

Milton, don't be so reticent and retiring. Say what you mean, my man. Ha!

s-p said...

Milton, Don't be shy, say what you mean... we can handle it. :)
At one level I agree with you, however I am still willing to give people the benefit of "looking for spiritual experience in all the wrong places" and being narcissitically unaware of the convergence of ego and passions that go into concocting "worship experiences" for niche markets. We have to remember that at one time what WE do as Orthodox was a "contemporary worship" service using contemporary modes of music, dress, architecture and arts, albeit still informed and guided by the Holy Spirit.

Kirk said...

It wasn't that many years ago that I agreed with Highland Park UMC's diverse service styles. At my wife's Church of Christ congregation in Austin (before they built the new mega-auditorium), at one time they had three separate services: an 8:00 service for the traditional, conservative old people; a "regular" service at 9:15; and an extended, more contemporary service at 10:30 for the baby boomers and their families. (I find that it's typically not the "young people" that want change, although they get blamed for it; it's the boomers.)

Well, back then, I thought that was a good idea so that you could cater to different tastes and still maintain congregational unity. That is to say, that different people would still attend the same congregation rather than splitting off or going elsewhere.

Now I see that true unity is reflected in one service or, if the sanctuary is not big enough for everyone, then multiple identical services. That is one of the draws of the Orthodox Church--the liturgy is the same everywhere, on the entire planet, and the services are the same from year to year, as they have been for 1500+ years. How can Christians be of one mind and all worship in different forms and styles?