Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Worship is About God

Worship has become a “battlefield” for some in the church, particularly mainline churches like ours- the United Methodist Church. I was trained in worship at Duke Divinity School back in the late seventies. Have you ever been to Duke Chapel? Wow! Duke Chapel has pipe organ and angelic voices every Sunday. Preaching is intellectual and scholarly. Worship has a mix of silence and speech or music. It is an altogether beautiful experience to worship there; at least that’s what I think. Now, for some, even United Methodists, it is a little too High-Church (formal) at Duke. People say things like: “That worship is almost Episcopalian.” I found it meaningful. But, while I was going to school at Duke, I was also serving two churches out in the country outside of Chapel Hill. Both churches had small organs and no choirs. Singing was quiet at best. Worship was less formal with someone making announcements and speaking up when they wanted to. Both of these were worship. I connected with God in both. I have worshiped where God’s Word was preached and we only had a piano and a few people. As Scripture says: “Where two or three are gathered, there I am in the midst of them…” I grew up in a church that was on the charge with another church. The other church was in the country. We were just in the city limits and thought we were citified. Truth was we were mostly mill workers with a few mill bosses. At times, the folks could be cantankerous. Arguments often happened. Worship was mostly formal, orderly, and we thought we were “uptown”. Back then all worship at least followed the same “order of service”. We had some common experiences across the United Methodist Church. Churches large and small followed and kept the same “order”. Somewhere along the way this changed. Some point back to what was known as the “charismatic” movement when people began to feel a movement of the Spirit and music started sounding more free-spirited. Worship was seen as something to participate in rather than just something to be done for us. Churches, in our denomination, split over worship. Some left and went to churches more to their liking in worship. They went to churches where the pastor didn’t read his sermons, where singers held microphones and music was loud. Now, I have always felt that worship could happen around a campfire or in a sanctuary with pipe organ. There is value in every setting when God is invoked and praised. Our church has traditional worship with pipe organ, choir, robes, acolytes and crucifer. We also have now a Contemporary service with praise band that worships in the gym. It’s easy to say that one kind of worship is legit and the other is not. Some still do this. Lovers of the traditional way of doing things sometimes make comments about those who want to worship in a contemporary style. Some even get angry about it. The idea being that we are all alike and should require that everybody be alike. Of course, the truth is we are not alike, even those of us who prefer traditional worship. God has made us with different needs. I say all that to say that the church of “today” is a church that offers a variety of experiences in worship. Worship is when God is praised, God’s Word is preached, our gifts are given, and people meet Jesus Christ. Come let us worship the Lord. And, may that worship be our beginning each week of serving and loving in Christ’s name. Blessings! Dave Nichols


  1. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say that I've truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!
    Stop by my blog schweiz seo

  2. I went to a Methodist church in the early 00's and they had a contemporary servive in the basement. While upstairs was the traditional service. They both had a full crowd. Now that church is all contemporary. I would settle for a traditioanl service in the basement; but there is no demand for such. I don't go to church regularly.



Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

Blog Archive

About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

The Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee