for local congregations to understand and engage in congregational worship. The discussion, which was moderated by Dan Copp, Global Clergy Development Director, took place in the sanctuary of Trevecca Community Church (which is also the chapel for TNU), and was sponsored by Grace and Peace Magazine. Those participating in the discussion were Craig Adams, Manager of the Worship Resource Development Team at LifeWay Worship; Heather Daugherty, Director of the Center for Worship Arts at TNU; Brad Estep, senior pastor of Kansas City (Mo.) First Church; Dwight Gunter, lead pastor of Trevecca Community Church; Brannon Hancock, worship pastor at Xenia Church of the Nazarene in Xenia, Ohio; Steve Hoskins, associate professor of Religion at Trevecca Nazarene University; Marvin Jones, worship pastor of Trevecca Community Church; Brent Peterson, professor of Theology at Northwest Nazarene University; and Dana Preusch, senior pastor of Blakemore (Tenn.) Church of the Nazarene. An abbreviated and edited* portion of the panel discussion appears below.
COPP: WE HAVE COME TOGETHER TO DISCUSS WHY WE WORSHIP AND HOW WE UNDERSTAND WORSHIP. BRENT, LET’S START WITH YOU. WHY DO CHRISTIANS WORSHIP AND WHAT MAKES WORSHIP CHRISTIAN?
PETERSON: God created us to worship. The question is, “What will we worship, and what takes top priority?” James K.A. Smith, in his book, Desiring the Kingdom, helped me think about worship as that which captures the imagination and drives the heart and ambition. God created us first of all to love God, but there is a danger in allowing other things to capture our imagination: will I worship myself first, or others, or God? While God desires our worship, God also desires us to care for others, ourselves, and creation. As Augustine said: To be human is to have “rightly-ordered loves.” Proper love for God enables me to love my brothers and sisters and to care for the world. God did not create us out of some narcissistic need for worship. Rather, God chooses to have God’s love flourish in creation, which brings restoration and healing to humanity and the world.
Our notions of Christian worship are partly derived from Jewish worship. As Jewish worshipers came together to remember the stories of God’s care, they did this through Scripture, singing, praise, and prayers of lament and confession. Later, Christians added the sacraments, such as the Lord’s Supper and baptism. Sacraments guide the Church and celebrate the transforming encounter between divinity and humanity. While God created us to be great lovers, sin is a distortion of that love; consequently, part of worship is to rightly order the loves that sin distorts. Sin is choosing to worship any part of creation other than God, which negates our humanity. As a result, worship is the event where God heals our humanity, so we may better love God, ourselves, and others. It is this communal gathering which is our working out of the mission of God.
ADAMS: Mike Harland’s book, Seven Words of Worship, says, “Worship essentially is our response to God’s revelation.” I love the imagery that God is always revealing himself.
HOSKINS: Revelation is the story of God that has come in Jesus. In order for worship to be Christian, it has got to be revelation-dependent because that means God is the summoner— the one who is working in us, through us, and recreating us— the one who elevates our humanity. That makes worship significant.
COPP: HEATHER, WHEN THE CHURCH GATHERS IN WORSHIP, WE PARTICIPATE IN SINGING, PREACHING, READING SCRIPTURE, SACRAMENTS, AND OTHER ELEMENTS. CAN YOU HELP US UNDERSTAND WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT?
DAUGHERTY: As Brent shared, Christianity started in the context of Jewish worship. There were things deemed important, such as reading Scripture and singing together. As we look at the New Testament, other pieces of worship come together. In Acts, we see the disciples proclaim the Word as people gather to pray and break bread together. In several epistles, Paul talks about the singing of psalms and spiritual songs. From this witness in Scripture, we can see what early Christians did that helps form and shape us as a people. The story that has shaped and formed Christians in the beginning continues to shape and form us today. Later, as the church matured in its thoughts and beliefs, creeds were developed, which helped explain what it means to be Christian.
ESTEP: Responding to the proclamation of the Word has been a dominant part of Nazarene worship, but we have also seen a liturgical renewal movement in the broader Christian community over the last several decades—a recapturing of sacramental practice. While we have always practiced the sacraments, it is becoming more frequent. But the idea that worship is a response to God and God speaking into our lives has always characterized Nazarene worship.
GUNTER: While there is history and tradition behind the practice of the sacraments, it is important to emphasize that these are a means of grace. Sacraments enact the grace of God flowing through our lives—the grace of God, which brings freedom and restoration to broken lives. We practice weekly Communion at Trevecca Community Church (TCC). I had an unmarried couple living together and suffering from addiction say, “God spoke to us during Communion. We need to bring our relationship under the authority of the Word of God. We will not sleep together until you marry us.” In the same service, a gentleman said, “God said that I’m killing myself through my eating disorder, and I need help.” When you have these things going on within the same worship gathering, this says the grace of God is at work.
HANCOCK: While we struggle to understand it, grace is God’s presence, his healing, and his transformation—that is what is happening there. The bread and the cup or the waters of baptism are not just something that takes us back in some nostalgic way. They are a way to participate in God’s presence and in his healing.
GUNTER: British theologian N.T. Wright talks about the authority of Scripture being the authority of a narrative, which is the story of God. This self-giving, holy-love God has expressed himself in this world and we have collected these stories in Scripture. But, N.T. Wright further points out that Scripture affirms the presence of God now. It is not just a story we remember, but an affirmation that God is still being God. When we read Scripture, sing spiritual songs, hear baptism stories, and partake of Communion, these things are reminders that God has not forgotten who God is. The same God who acted through the ages to redeem the world is now with us.
HOSKINS: As we read Scripture, time crosses boundaries. Ours is a “movable feast.” Just as Jesus shares a meal with his disciples, he shares a meal with us. Our voices are joined by others who, on a distant shore, worship God with us.
COPP: IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA, 72 PERCENT OF OUR CHURCHES ARE UNDER 100 IN ATTENDANCE. AS WE CONSIDER THE PASTOR, WHO MAY ALSO BE THE WORSHIP LEADER, HOW DO WE HELP THEM UNDERSTAND HOW ALL THESE ELEMENTS FIT AND FLOW TOGETHER IN SUNDAY WORSHIP?
ESTEP: The place to begin, Dan, is to ask, “Why are we doing what we are doing?” Often, we do things because that is what we have done, or that is the way we were taught.
PREUSCH: My church follows the Christian Year, so that dictates our focus from Sunday to Sunday. The lectionary text for the sermon serves as the central focus for how we layer the rest of the service. I am a fan of Robert Webber and follow his fourfold pattern of worship: 1) the scattered community gathering together in worship with prayer and psalm; 2) we move to hear the Word; 3) in response, we take Communion (have Table worship) and give our thanks, and also give thanks through the giving of our offerings and tithes; finally, 4) we are sent back out into the world (dismissal), hopefully shaped by these stories—this counter-narrative—to be the body and blood of Christ to the world.
In Acts, the church met together in homes to eat on a regular basis and to share what they had with those in need. I wonder if there is a way to create hospitality at a more vital level in our churches. In the last 24 hours, I have talked to three different parishioners who are having trouble putting food on the table. I wonder if that space in worship can be a place where we can honestly say, “I need help,” and then provide help for the body that is in need.
COPP: BRENT, YOU HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT THE WORSHIP IMAGERY OF GATHERING AND SENDING. SHARE WITH US.
PETERSON: In considering the role of the Holy Spirit, the Old Testament uses the word ruach to indicate the breath or wind of God. My colleague, Richard Thompson, who teaches biblical literature, helped me see in Luke and Acts that God is not only the initiator but also the gatherer for worship. I know getting a family of four to church for Sunday worship feels like work, but there is a notion that God literally does gather us and breathes us in for a healing encounter as we offer our praises, requests, and needs in worship. The goal of being Christian, or being the Church, is not simply to make our lives great, but to become disciples. We are to go into the highways and byways of life and find those who are lost and broken. Life has a rhythm, where God breathes us in for healing and breathes us out to be Christ’s body and blood in the world. God breathes us in for healing, renewal, empowerment, and vocation; God breathes us out to love the world and bring others into this rhythm.
HANCOCK: That is who we are as Nazarenes. Our purpose is to proclaim the message of entire sanctification and to minister to the poor and downtrodden. These are not two trajectories, but a rhythm God brings.
COPP: BRENT, THE IMAGERY YOU SHARED HELPS BECAUSE CHURCH SIZE DOES NOT HINDER THE SENSE OF COMMUNAL GATHERING AND MISSIONAL SENDING.
PREUSCH: I am in that small church. We have a very small space, and on Sunday mornings I do not even use a microphone to preach; my pulpit is a music stand. We do not have a projector. It is simple worship. But we have so many young people. They just pour through the door, and I ask them, “Why do you come? What’s attractive about this?” And they respond, “We just want to be authentic. We do not need the bells and whistles, we just want to come and worship.”
GUNTER: Dan, my first pastorate was a congregation of 40 people. We did not wait until we hit 100 or 200 before we began to worship. Recently at TCC, we partnered with a congregation no longer in existence. They dropped from 25 to 14 people and asked me for help. They asked for money, people, equipment, and musicians. I asked, “What are you trying to do?” They said, “What you do.” I said, “You’re trying to be David in Saul’s armor. Stop! Be who you are!” It is not about the stuff on the wall and the equipment. It is not about the sets you build and the resources you have. Those things have their place, but worship is fundamentally about the presence of God.
HANCOCK: We worry about how to reach young people and think we need cool music, but young people want community, they want authenticity, and they want to be part of a larger narrative where they can find belonging. Sometimes, they need that before they can experience a transformation or a conversion.
HOSKINS: As we look at Nazarene worship history, one of the ways we used to resource churches was the “singing school.” In the early days, you had people like John T. Benson, here at Trevecca, and James David Vaughn, the father of white southern gospel music in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, where Vaughn Memorial Church of the Nazarene is located. These folks came to your church and taught people to sing. They would offer you their song books or recordings. In the summers, they would gather in places like Trevecca or a large church. You kept folks like this in your home, fed them, and experienced life together. Whether you were in a camp meeting, a local church, or general assembly, we all sang the same songs, even in parts. And these songs became part of our worship life. They became part of that broader story, that grand Christian narrative. It was not a big professional thing, but it was a way to teach each other how to worship well.
COPP: IN A CHANGING CONTEXT, WE NEED TO ASK WHAT IS ESSENTIAL. BRANNON, HOW CAN THE CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE’S CORE VALUES OF CHRISTIAN, HOLINESS, AND MISSIONAL SPEAK INTO OUR WORSHIP?
HANCOCK: It is important we start with the core value of being “Christian” and ask what makes us Christian, and what makes our worship Christian. Second, while we share much common ground with other denominations in our understanding of holiness, God has entrusted us with an important calling toward life transformation. Third, being missional means we do not come together for our own sake, but as God breathes us in and breathes us out—it is for his work in the world. The core values provide a solid rubric for us to begin, as well as a needed intentionality. The truth is, if we are not deliberate about these choices, others things will crowd in. We might make a bigger deal about Memorial Day than Pentecost because we are not making a choice to be Christian first, and we end up with a watered-down form of civil religion that is anemic and powerless. If our practices, particularly in worship, are based on our core values, we will be on solid footing.
GUNTER: The idea of being Christian is the main reason we instituted reciting the Apostle’s Creed every Sunday. It is also the reason we practice weekly Communion. By doing this, we take our place in the Christian faith and affirm we are not some tiny sect. When we recite the creed, we are saying right up front, “This is who we are. We’re Christian. Welcome. We’re glad you’re part of us.” Our commitment to holiness is also expressed in our practice of Communion. As we partake of the elements, we examine our lives and confess. We want God to point out anything out of line with his character. And then, we are missional. Each week, we gather 120 to 150 recovering addicts. We do a jail service every Sunday night. On Pentecost Sunday, we baptize those who find Christ in the jail. We call the jail–sort of tongue-in-cheek –our satellite location. Every week, as we gather and hear the stories, we are reminded of God’s mission in the world.
COPP: WE HAVE FOCUSED ON BEING A GATHERING AND SENDING CHURCH, AND A CHURCH BUILT ON OUR CORE VALUES. LET’S GIVE OUR ATTENTION TO THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM. BRAD, AS A PASTOR, HOW DO YOU APPROACH BAPTISM?
ESTEP: When someone approaches me requesting baptism, I always begin with, “Have you been baptized before?” If they have (whether in a Nazarene church or in another Christian denomination), I help them find a way to proclaim what God is doing in their life and affirm or reclaim their baptism. Affirming a prior baptism acknowledges we are part of the Church with a capital “C.” When someone has been baptized in another community of Christian believers, we do not wish to invalidate what other communities of faith are doing, but celebrate God’s grace and activity in that person’s life. If a person has not been baptized, I say, “Let’s have a conversation about what that means, and talk about what God is doing in that, and what baptism signifies in your life and in the life of our congregation.”
COPP: BRAD, IF SOMEBODY HAS BEEN BAPTIZED BEFORE, WHAT DOES THAT CELEBRATION LOOK LIKE AT YOUR CHURCH?
ESTEP: It is important that a reaffirmation (or reclaiming) of baptism be celebrated in a public setting of worship, like regular baptisms. Our church does not have a set pattern or ritual we use. Typically, we have such persons stand before the church, profess their faith, and testify to what God has done in their life. We share about their prior baptism, affirm that our worshiping community is there to support that person and celebrate how God is working and moving in their life. This is not a complicated process and is something any congregation can do.
DAUGHERTY: When I served as a youth pastor, all the students in seventh and eighth grade had the opportunity to attend catechism. At the conclusion, they had the choice whether or not to be baptized. One year, two students had already been baptized as infants. We talked with them and their parents about reaffirming their baptism. For baptism, we dressed students in white robes. Just like their peers, these students wore white robes and shared their testimony. Their parents talked about their baptisms as infants, and how God had been working in their lives all along. While it was a bit different from those receiving baptized, it was a significant event in their lives.
PETERSON: By the way, each baptism ceremony should be an occasion for everyone to reaffirm their baptism, but such a ceremony allows people to say, “I’m going to own my faith beyond what my parents decided. This is who I want to be and I want to continue to be part of the church.” I think it is pastorally important to allow that kind of sacred space in our worship services. Reaffirmation is not only a time to reaffirm the covenant to which one belongs, but is a way to give thanksgiving for those who helped bring me to this point in my spiritual journey.
GUNTER: I baptized my own children and practice infant baptism at TCC, though we also practice infant dedication. To me, infant baptism celebrates the grace of God that is already at work in a child’s life, but I take a different slant on the issue of rebaptism. In my experience, pastoring is a perfect laboratory for doing theology because it will absolutely shape your theology. I encounter people who say, “Pastor, I was baptized as an infant, my family quit going to church, and my life went in a bad direction. Now, I have given my life to Christ. I want to be baptized.” I do not deny such a person an opportunity to be rebaptized. If people have walked away from their faith and feel they absolutely need to be rebaptized, I do not deny them that privilege. We have people who have walked roads that make reaffirmation difficult, so as a pastor, I baptize them.
PETERSON: Let me press a little against the notion of rebaptism.** Baptism is not so much about my personal testimony, but God’s initiation that brings me into the people of God. When we rebaptize, we suggest that the initial baptism was incomplete or inadequate—it did not do its work. This creates confusion. While people may have wandered far away from God, the reality is that God’s baptismal and healing grace has always been at work in their lives. Despite our rich and wonderful denominational history, we need to delve more fully into the meaning of sacraments. Part of our challenge is to create a narrative which allows us to see the full story. To be fair, I understand the pastoral dimension to all this, but historically the Church has not tended to side with the need to be rebaptized. The Church has tried to affirm one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. We need to have a larger conversation on other alternatives.
GUNTER: Brent, let me clarify that the testimonies I mentioned had to do with the work of God in people’s lives. I baptized one woman who had been arrested over 90 times. She said, “I never could get past the anger until I found Christ.” While that is a personal testimony, it is also a story of God’s grace at work. She was someone who felt her prior baptism had no meaning and desperately wanted to be rebaptized. I understand that baptism is not essentially about personal experience, but coming into the kingdom. However, we need to balance pastoral practice with theology, and sometimes this means exceptions to the rule. I think the Nazarene ethos, which makes room for variance of opinion on some of these issues, is at work here, so I am glad there is room to come at it from different perspectives.
HOSKINS: We need to remember baptismal views in many Christian fellowships were hammered out over many, many years. What is interesting is we had this very conversation in the Church of the Nazarene a hundred years ago. Here is what we decided: parents can choose to baptize their infant or wait until much later—both rituals were used. We were not confused about this. That decision was a moment of clarity. We were willing to be generous with one another because what was at stake was not precision but salvation. We can be helped by remembering what the Church has said about right worship practice. We also need to remember that we are after salvation. One thing church history can tell us is the need to be generous with one another and see beyond our own positions. It comes down to loving God, loving each other, and working it out. Sometimes working it out means precision, and sometimes it means compromise. But that is the work of the Spirit in the Church.
COPP: I AFFIRM THE NEED TO CONTINUE A CHARITABLE DISCOURSE. THERE ARE NO EASY ANSWERS. PART OF OUR PASTORAL ROLE IS TO CONTINUE TO GRAPPLE THEOLOGICALLY WITH THE ROLE AND MEANING OF WORSHIP. BRENT, HOW OUGHT WE TO UNDERSTAND THE LORD’S SUPPER?
PETERSON: As Protestants, we affirm two main sacraments. These are declared in Scripture, and Christ commanded them. John Wesley said the chief means of growth in sanctification occurs at the service of the Word, preaching, and the table. There are three things to consider regarding the Lord’s Supper: first, is the issue of presence. Too often, we focus too much on how Christ is in the elements—the bread and the wine. John and Charles Wesley had this great hymn, which said, “The manner in which we do not know but that we affirm, Christ is really here.” As Wesleyans, we want to strongly affirm Christ’s presence in the Lord’s Supper, but we also need to ask if we are present. Part of our role as worship leaders and pastors is to help our folks be present to encounter God. The second thing is sacrifice. Some Protestants get nervous when the Eucharist is described as a sacrifice. The intention is not to suggest Christ’s work on the cross was not good enough. Think of Romans 12:1-2, where Paul encourages the Romans to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice. As Christ offers us his body and blood, we respond by offering ourselves to Christ. In my research, I discovered that the Latin roots of “sacrifice” are sacer facere, which means “to be made holy.” At the core, sacrifice is linked with sanctification. As we offer ourselves, God is glorified, and we are set apart and sanctified for God’s work. Third, we are sent out to be the body and blood of Christ in the world. The Lord’s Supper is this great act in the rhythm of worship, a means of grace, where we can encounter the healing grace of God. Just as Christ’s body is broken and poured out, we—as the body of Christ—are broken and poured out for the world.
GUNTER: We have people who found their way to the Church of the Nazarene from various faiths. Some of these folks come from traditions that celebrate weekly Communion. Their question to us was, “Why don’t we?” It is a good question, and while I am not a historian, part of our hesitation toward more frequent Communion, besides a concern for formalism, was in not always having an elder available to administer the Lord’s Supper.
HOSKINS: Let me add that music brings meaning to Communion, which the Wesleys understood had the power to not only catechize the believer, but transform them.
JONES: There are times when I cannot lead our worship because I am so moved.
DAUGHERTY: At our church, at the end of the service, the children come up every week for Communion. Recently, my little boy who turned two had a birthday party, and Pastor Dana was there, and he asked her for Communion. My two-year-old does not understand all about Communion, but he does know there is something we do when the body of Christ gathers; he knows that part of the story, which is exciting.
HANCOCK: I lead worship at my grandma’s church. Her ministry for decades is with a Sunday School class of mentally-challenged adults and their caregivers. During Communion, I watch Timmy cross himself and receive Communion. Seeing this reminds me that we are the body of Christ, and it is not primarily about what we understand, but receiving God’s grace.
GUNTER: As Wesleyans, Communion is a converting ordinance. Each week, I say, “If you’re not a believer, and you want to be, simply ask Jesus to forgive your sins, and allow God to take charge of your life. Eat of the bread, drink of the cup. The grace of God is yours.” As a pastor, my job is to offer the grace of God. We need to reflect more on the place of Communion in our worship and who can come to the Table.
COPP: LET’S CHANGE DIRECTION AND TALK ABOUT WORSHIP PLANNING. CRAIG, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE RESOURCES THAT ARE AVAILABLE?
ADAMS: A lot of collaboration occurs online where worship planners can think, pray, and wrestle together over theological issues and arrive at some landing places. There is also great value in our denomination’s hymnal, as well as the theological concepts derived from ancient books of prayer and songs, which much contemporary church music is now drawing from. They assign these expressions a new melody, new harmonic properties, and now new hymnody is evolving as old expressions are brought into a more common vernacular.
You can access web portals like PraiseCharts.com, LifewayWorship. com, Lillenas.com, WordMusic.com, BibleGateway.com, MyStudyBible.com, and YouVersion.com. Most music publishers have some kind of worship planning component, which works in partnership with Christian Copyright Licensing, Inc. A lot of churches use Planning Center Online to find resources and distribute them to their people. The following are writing great songs for the Church: Sovereign Grace Ministries, Bob Kauflin and his camp of songwriters are very careful, very intentional, also Matt Maher and Matt Redman. Stuart Townend and Keith Getty are among the most influential and gifted poets of today’s church. I would also look at Aaron Keyes and Tommy Walker; Paul Baloche is a great writer. Shelly E. Johnson’s a new name that is emerging. I have wholehearted respect for Tim Curtis and Dave Clark at Lillenas. Reach out to them and to local worship leaders.
COPP: BRENT, IN YOUR BOOK, CREATED TO WORSHIP, YOU SUGGEST THAT PASTORS BRING A TEAM TOGETHER FOR WORSHIP PLANNING. TALK ABOUT THIS.
PETERSON: Worship planning is beneficial for any church, regardless of size or context. Planning can involve members of the pastoral staff and/or persons from the congregation, but having a team will enable you to accomplish more with better results. Since worship is a corporate event, including laity in your planning helps ensure that your worship will connect to people. Team members can be musically inclined, but having people who are imaginative, creative, or artistic is helpful, even persons who are new to the faith because they have sensitivities that are often missed by others. Most worship planning focuses on preparation leading up to Sunday, but it is especially helpful to evaluate how well Sunday went in helping people encounter God. Did the different forms or parts of the service accomplish what was intended?
A constant challenge for any team is planning ahead; consequently, delegation and empowerment is important. One misnomer we struggle with is the idea that planning or scripting services will hinder the work of the Holy Spirit. Actually, the more we plan and bring thought and creativity to our worship, the more we tend to allow the Holy Spirit to work. While the Spirit may work in ways that alter our plans, planning ensures that worship is meaningful and Godbreathed.
Also, worship should be grounded in a strong theology of worship, which is sensitive to context. Being contextual means worship reflects who we are as a people in a particular setting and location. If we try to copy and paste somebody else’s worship into our setting, we lose authenticity and fail to take into account our church’s unique expression as the body of Christ. Understanding context is hard work, you have to know your people and their culture, but it is vital to your congregation. As pastors and worship leaders, never introduce something radically new until you know the context and know it will be well received.
COPP: DANA, TALK ABOUT YOUR PROCESS FOR PLANNING WORSHIP.
PREUSCH: Our plan is based loosely on the lectionary, so we know the passages we need to review from week to week, which I send out to my worship team. I take time to think about the sermon and where I want to go, and then we work together to frame it with the four-fold pattern I mentioned earlier. We come together with a greeting or a blessing to our folks, and then offer an invocation prayer. We almost always read a psalm with a song response. We pass the peace, and then we hear the Word, and in response to that, we have Communion and the offering. These are the liturgical moves we make in our “worship plot,” a phrase suggested by a helpful book on worship by Dan Boone.
GUNTER: For my planning, it is critical to realize that the entire service (not simply the preaching) is the sermon—this orientation guides our worship leaders and planners and helps us support one another in this process. Once we establish the sermon text, we use DropBox, an online tool that allows document sharing. I create a document that explains our direction and emphasis. Marvin will work and pray through that, create a skeletal plan for service, and then we will sit down and work through it. We look for ways to create variety within the flow of the service. We have a team of six people that shape the sermon for that particular gathering, and we discuss the elements we want, and how it will look.
JONES: We feel we miss the mark if people leave our services and focus only on a particular aspect, like how well the choir did. We want them to say, “Boy, I saw God today. God was present with us.” For our team, that is how we evaluate a good day. To be honest, when we started this process of worship planning, my role felt a little threatened. But, as we began to work together, I saw how this put a better story together, and our folks responded. The working relationship is crucial.
COPP: BRAD, TALK ABOUT HOW YOU AND YOUR STAFF WORK TOGETHER IN WORSHIP PLANNING.
ESTEP: I preach primarily from the lectionary. This makes it easy to project what we will focus on in advance. When you have talented people involved, like Roger Allen, our music minister, he and others make me aware of music and other elements I would not have considered, which brings new options and possibilities. For us, whenever we share the Lord’s Supper, it is always in response to the sermon. In my early years, as we considered how often to celebrate Communion, I wondered how every sermon would lead to the Lord’s Supper, but it is amazing how that can and does happen—it is always sufficient. The Lord’s Supper is filled with such robust meaning, and there are so many possibilities for how it can be portrayed, imagined, and experienced.
COPP: WE ARE ALL IN THE MIDST OF A WORSHIP CONVERSATION AND THIS REQUIRES PRAYERFUL DISCERNMENT IN THE CONTEXT GOD HAS PLANTED US. MAY WE LEARN TO LET GOD BREATHE US IN AND BREATHE US OUT TO A WORLD IN NEED. THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED IN THIS CONVERSATION.
*Editor’s Note: Transcripts of conversations can be especially difficult to edit, especially for smooth readability. This transcript was adapted and edited and, in places, condensed or reworked for brevity and clarity, while trying to ensure that the spirit of what was said remained.
**Editor’s Note: Nazarenes have always acknowledged a pluralistic baptismal tradition. Each of the three main parent bodies (East, West, and South) that united in 1907 and 1908 had arrived independently of one another at the view that infant baptism and believer’s baptism would both be honored, and that candidates should be able to choose their mode of baptism. This common adherence to “liberty of conscience” on matters related to baptism was one of the glues that bound them together, and is one of the differences that distinguished them from some other Holiness groups of the time. The reality of such pluralism, however, has prompted many questions from Nazarenes, and some answers, like those especially involving rebaptism, have not always been consistent throughout the denomination’s history.
The following are two such examples. In a January 16, 1924, issue of Herald of Holiness, J.B. Chapman, who served as editor, is asked the following question: “Q—If a person after being baptized with water, commits sin and travels with the world and then repents and comes back to the Lord should he be baptized again?” Chapman’s answer: “A—No, not under any circumstances.” In a September 1, 1926 issue of Herald of Holiness, Chapman is asked the following question: “Q—Is it necessary for a person who has been baptized and is a member of another church to be rebaptized upon becoming a member of the Church of the Nazarene?” Chapman’s answer: “A—Not if the person comes from an evangelical church.” Perhaps partly due to such inconsistency, Nazarenes have varied in their response to the issue of rebaptism: some rebaptize and others reaffirm the prior baptism—the denomination allows for both options. Those who side with reaffirmation can claim much of historical Christianity supporting this position. Those who favor rebaptism tend to claim a believer’s position, which puts weight on the desire of the individual.
At this point, it is important to clarify that sacraments, by their nature, are intended for the Church and not the individual. The meaning of a sacrament lies in its corporate expression, not in its individual expression. For more background information, see online: Stan Ingersol, “Christian Baptism and the Early Nazarenes: The Sources that Shaped a Pluralistic Baptism Tradition,” Wesleyan Theological Journal, Volume 27, 1992, http://wesley.nnu.edu/fileadmin/ imported_site/wesleyjournal/1992-wtj-27.pdf. An additional resource is Rob L. Staple’s Outward Sign and Inward Grace: The Place of Sacraments in Wesleyan Spirituality (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1991).