WORSHIP & A Leadership Exercise That Untangles Worship Controversies

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/6/15.

Worship can be a controversial area. This is in part because it deals with the intersection of Christ and culture.

Cultural anthropologist Charles Kraft, building on foundational concepts by Richard Niebuhr in the book “Christ and Culture,” argues that the most theologically defensible approach is what Kraft calls: Christ above but working through culture.  Eddie Gibbs explains that “such an approach represents a deliberate self-limiting on the part of God in order to speak in understandable terms and with perceived relevance on the part of the hearer. He acts redemptively with regard to culture, which includes judgment on some elements, but also affirmation in other areas, and a transformation of the whole.”

A Leadership Exercise:  

Describe in one to two paragraphs a Worship Controversy Case Study.  This is an example of some worship practice, liturgy, observance, act and/or event that was controversial.  Give the details in a paragraph.

Then wait for another leader to add to it.  You do this by reading another leader’s case study (that hasn’t been answered yet) and answer the following question:

Missiologists tell us that we must evaluate, sift, and either affirm or judge cultural practices.  This is what leaders must do as budding North American missiologists: analyze someone else’s case study by evaluating/sifting it, and then either judge it or affirm it.

End your remarks by giving your rationale for your conclusions.  This will probably take one to two paragraphs.

The Results:

Sometimes a fresh set of eyes can often see things that we are too close to the scenario to notice.  Thus, this leadership exercise allows your colleagues to assist you with cultural sifting and critiquing

Notes on the instructions: Additional thoughts in blue are embedded [below] in the earlier instructions:

Describe in one to two paragraphs a Worship Controversy Case Study.  This is an example of some worship practice, liturgy, observance, act and/or event that was controversial.  Give the details in a paragraph.

Describe some personal cast study. Something you have witnessed.  Tell about it in one paragraph.

Then wait for another leader to add to it.  You do this by reading another leader’s case study (that hasn’t been answered yet) and answer the following question:

Missiologists tell us that we must evaluate, sift, and either affirm or judge cultural practices.  This is what leaders must do as budding North American missiologists: analyze someone else’s case study by evaluating/sifting it, and then either judge it or affirm it.

Look at another leader’s case study by “evaluating/sifting it, and then either judge it or affirm it.

End your remarks by giving your rationale for your conclusions.  This will probably take one to two paragraphs.

Basically explain why the other person’s case study you decided to address was controversial. Also explain what behaviors, ideas or products run counter to the principles of Christ (i.e. sift or differentiate between the elements that run counter to the Good News and those that support it). Finally, tell if you agree or disagree with the participants.