7 Trends That Are Changing Contemporary Worship

Dan Wilt says the Church has a responsibility to be forward-thinking:

The following trends are those I perceive as I listen to the academic, local church, and popular voices to which I have access through social media, websites, books, and my relational networks.

I humbly offer 7 trends I see from my own limited vantage point. There may be more.

1. A Movement From Individual Experience To Individual + Community Experience

“Expressive individualism” is a term coined by sociologist Robert Bellah to describe the highest value in our culture today – that of people fully expressing their individuality without reservation (special thanks to Rich Nathan for drawing my attention to this idea).

Throwing off all shackles, the individual’s desires and preferences are god, affirmed by our celebrity creeds about personal authenticity and our constant hunger to “do our own thing.” No one should legislate any restraint that would limit any person’s self-expression (unless, of course, they are explicitly harming someone else in a way we corporately agree is unacceptable).

In the Church, I sense us waking up to how deeply this prevailing cultural view has permeated the Church, and we are being pressed to action by the Spirit of God.

Instead of continuing to host worship services where everyone feels like they are in their own personal worship cubicle with God, “doing their own thing,” the Body of Christ must reclaim our most high-participation, community-oriented practices in worship.

Singing is just one of them. The Eucharist, the passing of the peace, joining in responsive readings, and engaging in more roundtable approaches to teaching are all ways I see worship changing to confront the expressive individualism of our time.

People want to experience truly communal worship on a Sunday morning; not an educating Christian show in which they’ve been invited to sing a bit. We have work to do here.

2. A Movement From Church Rhythms To Church + Personal Rhythms

Many Christians today are realizing that weekly church services, with a few community connections in between, are not teaching Christians to be self-feeding disciples.

Almost by instinct there is a recovering of our need to develop daily rhythms and spiritual habits in our lives. These habits leverage the neuroplasticity in our brains as we partner with God in the changing of our thinking on a day by day basis.

The resurgence of hunger for daily devotionals, for the daily office, and for more ancient practices such as pauses for prayer, meditation, and thanksgiving during the day – these are all examples of an instinctive need we have for daily habits to counter our frenetic, always-on, smart phone driven, 21st century way of life.

We must stop talking about worship in weekly increments, and start talking about worship in daily increments.

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