Today’s post is from Scott Weidler, ELCA Program Director for Worship and Music.
One of the things I’ve learned in these many years serving on the ELCA worship staff is that perspectives often vary between congregations and parts of the church. For example, a musical setting of the liturgy by Marty Haugen might be called “contemporary” in one congregation but be the most “traditional” music used in another. Worshipers speaking out loud the names of those for whom we pray is common in many communities but would be strange and unexpected in another. The lists can go on and on.
“When differing expectations turn to disagreement, it is a good thing to seize the opportunity to explore the diversity of music, art, and ritual practice within our own church.”
These examples, and a myriad of others, often reflect deeply held practices and traditions. It is a good thing that people have strong feelings and emotions about these things. This may mean that worship is central to their life as a Christian. Sometimes, when differing expectations turn to disagreement, it is a good thing to seize the opportunity to explore the diversity of music, art, and ritual practice within our own church, engage in healthy conversations and discover a creative curiosity of others and their ways to worship.
Can We Talk: Engaging Worship and Culture is a small booklet, a study guide of sorts, that has recently been mailed to all ELCA congregations as an encouragement to join this journey of discussion and experience about how worship and culture engage one another, and how we, God’s people, engage this sometimes challenging, but important, topic.
Drawing on the wisdom from the Nairobi Statement on Worship and Culture from the Lutheran World Federation in the mid-1990s, Can We Talk provides contemporary commentary on the statement, along with suggestions on how to use this material in an engaging and helpful way in your congregation.
This is an exciting and timely topic. We hope that your congregation will dig in and join the conversation.
If you did not receive the paper copy in the mail, do not worry! Can We Talk is easily accessible at www.elca.org/worship. Click on the Can We Talk link to download the booklet. Even if you received the paper copy, you’ll want to get this electronic version so the many links to examples will be active.