More from Dan…
First of all, I would like to thank the LCMS Commission on Worship for paying for my trip, Ohio District President Terry Cripe for choosing to have a representative from Zion, and Pastor Kudart for asking me to go. What a privilege and a trip. Thank you.
Maybe not in this post alone, but I need to cover:
With the exception of presentations that were given in the gym of Concordia-Kirkwood and after about 3pm on Tuesday, I had wireless access and was able to Twitter key thoughts during the conference. Do not take them as their quotes but as ideas I tried to get down in limited time and manual dexterity. You can follow the points at #LCMSMTC.
It was clear ever since the first agendas came out that we weren't going to solve the "worship wars" in 2½ days. Six presentations focused on general qualities that worship should be: Scriptural and Confessional, Pastoral and Sacramental, Personal and Contextual, Missional and Vocational (two approaches), and Practical and Theological.
Other than what Concordia-Kirkwood offered in its sanctuary and praise center, there were no samples of worship to critique. No bounds were discussed, and so my first expectation was not met.
Ted Kober of Ambassadors of Reconciliation, an LCMS Registered Service Organization, moderated the conference, and he did a good job of letting people discuss without things getting out of control on these emotional issues. He set forth ground rules that were very helpful.
It should be noted that the first agenda of the conference that came out had nothing that was labeled traditional or liturgical. The updated agenda that we received kicked off the conference with LSB Morning Prayer. I hope that means that there was some pre-conference feedback about what we were to be doing.
All services were printed in a large worship folder, which was usable, but all the hymns and songs only had melody. We ended up having to pick out harmonies on the better hymns or pull the LSB out of the pews for hymns like, "O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright."
The worship services were represented as a "traditional" Morning Prayer service, a "blended" Evening Prayer service, a "contemporary" Morning Prayer service, and a "contemporary" Eucharist service. To Concordia-Kirkwood's credit, all services had some semblance of liturgical form and could even be recognized as Lutheran. Blended looked like traditional accompanied by praise band instruments in a somewhat reverent way, except for one song. Unfortunately, the worship that we saw were not examples of what we have in the Synod, whether traditional, blended, or contemporary.
I asked DP Terry Cripe what he thought after the contemporary service, which had two theologically light songs and two songs that actually had some meat on them. Pastor Cripe noted the older contemporary songs were indeed terrible, but the better songs were newer. It seemed that song writers have heard some criticism.
Several pastors made use of institutional knowledge in their presentations. One pastor used hymns such as "Thy Strong Word" and "We All Believe in One True God." Another used the liturgical Psalm 51, "Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God." When those were brought out, the assembly was encouraged to sing along. I wonder if the church plants who avoid liturgy and Lutheran hymns will be able to sing these in 20 years.
More to come.