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Saturday, November 01, 2008
Worship and Mission: Part 1

A few years back I came across an article by Thomas H. Schattauer entitled, "Liturgical Assembly as Locus of Mission."  In the article he explores the way worship and mission get connected in worship services.  He offers three alternatives:  "inside and out" (conventional) "outside in" (contemporary) and "inside out" (radically traditional).  Relying on his descriptions I will offer a brief summary of each alternative.

The relationship between the inside activity of worship and the outside activity of mission is portrayed thus:  worship nurtures the individual and sustains the community in its life before God and in its life together and from where Christians go out to serve the church's mission as proclaimers and doers of the gospel.  They return to worship, perhaps with a few more folk gathered by this witness, and the cycle begins again.

A contemporary response to the conventional model has been to bring the "outside" activities of mission directly into the context of worship. The sacred precinct of liturgy becomes one of two things--either a stage from which to present the gospel and reach out to the unchurched and irreligious, or a platform from which to issue the call to serve the neighbor and rally commitment for social and political action. . . . The church's worship is reshaped to take up the tasks of the church's mission, construed as evangelical outreach, social transformation or both. 

This approach locates the liturgical assembly itself within the arena of the missio Dei.  The focus is on God's mission toward the world, to which the church witnesses and into which it is drawn, rather than on specific activities of the church undertaken in response to the divine saving initiative. . . The gathering of a people to witness to and participate in this reconciling movement of God toward the world is an integral part of God's mission. The visible (or public) act of assembly (in Christ by the power of the Spirit) and the forms of this assembly--what we call liturgy--enact and signify this mission.  From this perspective there is no separation between liturgy and mission. . . . . Like a reversible jacket, the liturgy can be turned and worn inside out, and by so doing we see the relationship between worship and mission--inside out.

 So what do you think of this taxonomy so far?  While it may be oversimplified, I think is extremely helpful in getting a good scope on the landscape.  Can you see the differences?  How might you classify your own church or group according to these?  

More to come.  

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posted by John David Walt | at 11/01/2008 02:49:00 PM



Anonymous guy m williams said...

I'll forward to the "more to come." I am interested in the last one, "inside out," but where I can envision what the other two would look like to attend and experience, I'm a little fuzzy on that with the "inside out" paradigm. Thanks for writing about these; I look forward to the rest of the series.

10:51 PM EST  
Anonymous John D. Palmer said...

I suppose I'd like see what you think particularly about this "taxonomy". I guess I'm curious to what you are leading up to?

At this point I think the taxonomy is clumsy and not all that distinctive. I think I could see all three distinctions on any given Sunday in my worship community.

We have a "traditional" service that would fit the first, Inside and Out.

A contemporary or Modern which would fit the Inside Out

A "Blended" Service(I know, I know please don't ask) that is Inside and Out.

Scattered accross these service's throughout the year there are different times in which we have "Outside In" focus.

I myself think the inside out desription fits what I think about Worship as being mission.

So what do you think?

10:58 AM EST  
Blogger Jamey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:04 PM EST  
Blogger Jamey said...

I definitely vote for #3, but I'm not really sure what I'm going to get (kind of like the presidential election). I want to believe the statement, "There is no separation between liturgy and mission," but I can't seem to work it out pragmatically in my mind.

Based on my reading of Revelation 7 this past week, I've come to what I think is an Epiphany that really relates to this. I think most of us operate in the "inside and out" perspective: we come to worship hoping to find motivation to live for Christ—maybe that the music and sermon will propel us out into the streets to evangelize and serve. . . What if the reverse were true? What if it was our participation in evangelism and service that motivated us to worship and glorify our great God in a corporate way? At first, I think I would only include evangelism and service as God's mission, but now I am seeing how worship is the central part. . .Is this what you understand the author to be saying as "inside out" liturgy/mission?

8:10 PM EST  

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