Again, for your consideration, blog readers…
Disagreements about worship practices have affected nearly every Christian denomination in America since the 1970s. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) is no different from other Christian churches in this respect. It affects relationships between congregations and it affects relationships within congregations. It is not getting any better as the years pass. In fact it is resulting in more congregational members not attending church at all and more synodical members leaving for other churches, or starting their own.
Three basic types of worship are now common in the LCMS: traditional, contemporary, and high-church. The more aggressive advocates of each type believe they are superior to the others, but the reasons for superiority differ.
High-church worship advocates believe that their practices, which emphasize ritual, traditional liturgical texts, and plainsong chanting, are superior because they are ancient Christian practices. The authority of antiquity and tradition is invoked. Many of these practices, when properly and competently used, are a thing of aesthetic beauty.
Contemporary worship advocates believe that their practices, which emphasize informality, newly written liturgical texts (or no liturgy at all), and pop-rock music, are superior because they are relevant to the culture of modern Americans. The authority of "contextuality" and the religious marketplace is invoked. Many of these practices, when properly and competently used, are exciting, especially for young people who like that type of music.
Traditional worship advocates believe that their practices, which emphasize the traditional Lutheran liturgy and hymnody, as developed by Luther, manifested in numerous state church agendas, translated and refined in the "Common Service" and "The Lutheran Hymnal," and presented today in the maroon-colored Lutheran Service Book and its Agenda, is superior because it is the Lutheran heritage. The authority of Lutheran culture and practices is invoked. Many of these practices, when properly and competently used, are places of familiarity to those who know them.
So what do you want? Familiarity, excitement for youth, or aesthetic beauty? Those are the options so far. How about something different? How about "cross-focused" analysis of the practices of all three types, under the authority of Scriptures and Confessions? Is our current leadership up to this challenge?