When you walk into a church and join in a service of worship, there are three main ways the “order of service” is communicated: moment-by-moment (such as by PowerPoint), single-service (such as by a bulletin), and full-liturgy (such as by a prayerbook). Although the intention of the worship planners may vary, each of these three methods communicate something very different about Christian spirituality and point to three different theologies of worship.
First of all is the PowerPoint worship experience. In this version you have nothing in your hands to look through at the coming songs, readings, and whatnot; it’s all up on the projector screen or wall or announced by a worship leader or team. Let’s say worship is like a meal: there are different food groups which must be balanced to some reasonable extent in order to maintain a healthy diet. In the PowerPoint approach, it’s like different ingredients are being added in one at a time. There may be a recipe in the mind of the worship leader(s), but it’s hidden from the congregation. Thus, even if there is an overall plan or direction to the worship service, it’s harder for the congregation to see it. PowerPoint slides are a series of moments, and when that is the medium for communicating the flow of worship, then worship becomes a series of moments, too, rather than an organic expression of revelation, response, and relationship.
This moment-based style reflects and promotes a spirituality of spontaneity. This has come to be the religion (or spirituality) of most charismatic Christians as well as many modern evangelicals. They assert that Spirit-led worship cannot be planned too meticulously, and therefore they value an ingredient-by-ingredient approach to worship services. This way, if “the spirit moves them,” they can skip a few slides to a different song or topic or whatever. Nothing is too fixed.
Part 2 coming tomorrow!