The need to focus on Lutheran piety

An interesting article on how an LCMS congregation that has experienced the “flavor-of-the-day” when it comes to contemporary worship can return to a church that practices historic Lutheranism.

Here is the path that can be followed.

1 – The pastors & the elders need to agree to a vision as to how the congregation should worship and then uphold that ideal as they move toward that goal, teaching and encouraging all the way.

2 – Over the course of about three years, the following changes would be made:

a. put up a cross as a focal point for worship. (“Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come”.)

b. move the altar to a more clear & central location, add a pulpit, and a font. These are the three basic pieces of furniture found throughout Christian history around the world.

c. have the pastor at least wear a collar. Garments evoking Revelation can come later when the congregation is more catechized.

d. using the existing musicians, introduce more Lutheran hymnody to the congregation via the LSB Guitar Edition; CPH’s Hymns for the Contemporary Ensemble; and other resources.

e. teach the congregation that because they are in Christ, their song is the song of Christ, and so we heed what Paul teaches us in two of the few specific instructions about worship we receive in the NT: “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs”. Follow this by introducing Psalm singing in styles that are consistent with the existing way the congregation sings and with the musical vocabulary of the P&W band. These are available from many resources, including, GIA, OCP, and Liturgy Solutions.

f. teach the congregation about the Spiritual songs. what is ‘spiritual’? “Of the Holy Spirit” (according to Norman Nagel). What songs are “of the Holy Spirit”? Easy – the songs elsewhere in the Bible: the Canticles. The Magnificat, for example is a “Spiritual Song”. The liturgy is full of Spiritual songs, and so introduce them to the congregation. Perhaps one a season until they have learned enough Canticles do do a complete Divine Service.

It’s a plan that takes time to implement, but it also a plan that appears to be solid.  The catch is that a congregation has to recognize that it has strayed when it comes to worship.

Only then can the true focus of worship return to where it should be:

on where Christ gives us His cross-born gifts through the Office of the Holy Ministry: the font, the altar, and the pulpit.

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