The New Year has begun well in terms of the much-appreciated mild weather and also from our shared learning in small groups and the BG evening. Having looked at the 'Chris tian Year' in the last News, a few people have asked for some guidance on the various styles of worship that are fol lowed in other churches.
One of the great strengths of the Church of England is its breadth of traditions. There's a wide range of worship styles to choose from and people usually settle on a style that they feel comfortable with and which enables their search and relationship with God to develop and flourish.
There are many different personality types and preferred learning profiles, so it isn't surprising that the way we express our faith reflects this. There are over arching titles to some of these styles of worship but many churches have a mixture of styles for the various services they offer.
I have found Bishop John's book Living Jesus helpful in defining in broad terms the main classifications of Evangelical, Catholic, Charismatic and Liberal.
have summarised these four types of churchmanship and hope you will find it helpful. The main point to remember is that worship cannot be constrained into neat boxes. There will always be local traditions and usages applied which again are part of the attraction of Anglicanism.
I remember how exciting I found new styles of worship when 1 began my training for ordination. It was a time of spiritual growth for me and an under standing that 'acceptable' worship is meaningless- God is present at all times and in all places when and wherever worship is offered to him.
Often there is an emphasis on a personal acceptance of Jesus. Many evangelicals will refer to their time of conversion at a specific time. They relate it to a change in their life style and are encouraged to help others towards a similar experience. The importance of the worth and wisdom of the Bible are emphasised and centre on the cross and resurrection as the break through to freedom. It's a generous and joyful style of worship often with expressive music and without the constraints of liturgical practice.
For Anglo Catholics, the focus is Eucharistic and sacramental worship is central to die style. Something profound is happening as the worship is offered through colour, song, order and beauty. The ministry that flows is for the welfare of individuals and communities. God's love for the world is expressed through Jesus. His incarnation is God's gift to the whole of his created order. Traditional and modern music accompany the liturgy.
In the 1970s the Charismatic movement was widely reported on for the action of the Holy Spirit. The movement was seen as something extraordinary in that it disrupted established patterns in churches across the whole spectrum. Some people associate it with the Vineyard church in Toronto and many worshippers there received the Toronto Blessing' i.e. the Holy Spirit touched them in a similar way to the experience of the disciples at Pentecost. Speaking in tongues and other manifestations of the working of the Holy Spirit was both exhilarating and yet disturbing. However, God only comes to us in ways that we can cope with. In other words what suits some wouldn't suit others. The focus for charismatic churches is always the work of the living Spirit of Jesus. Worship is released and the music reflects the energy and passion of the Holy Spirit. Today those early intense experiences have faded as the work of the Holy Spirit has been more widely recognised and incorporated into main stream traditions. It was as if God was reminding us all in a tangible way that his Spirit is with us.
This style is one which reflects an open- minded and free way of thinking. Jesus was a liberal in that he broke away from the confining, traditionalist form of Judaism. He stood apart from rituals and practices that stifled God's care and compassion for his people. He lived by the Spirit of the Law rather than the letter of the Law. Liberalism in its true form works for the greater good of all people. The natural world and related sciences arc important for liberal thinkers as they seek to understand God's world.
The Bible, tradition and reason with the gifting of the Holy Spirit infuse the church as we perceive it. We need all of these styles to interact and develop the church into a community of faithful people.
Exploring and learning from others is part of our Christian pilgrimage. We are truly well blessed to have such a breadth of styles to choose from. Enjoy worshipping our great and wonderful God throughout the seasons of the church year.