Friday, September 3, 2010
Too Much Change
I have written before of the tyranny of personal preference that would divide a congregation when multiple worship services are also different liturgical choices (or even non-liturgical ones). It is not a good thing to have all out contemporary worship at 11, some form of blended service and music at 9:30 and stock hymnal at 8 am. In reality there are not merely three services choices but three different congregations. Unlike the congregation divided by simple worship times, these congregations would not and could not worship with each other since they do not know each other's song or liturgy. Except perhaps for Christmas, the typical congregation that offers such a variety of worship formats has knowingly or unknowingly developed different congregations unable to join in each other's song and unwilling to learn the liturgy of the other.
But there is another diversity which I am also not so sure is healthy. That is when congregations use one setting of the Divine Service on one Sunday of the month, a different one the second Sunday, a different one on the third Sunday, and another one on the fourth Sunday. Certainly LSB affords such a choice and diversity since there are five settings of the Divine Service but what is possible is not always beneficial.
I do think it is important for a congregation to learn more than one setting of LSB. In my own parish we know them all but we use DS 1-3 most of all. However, we do not change from week to week. We tend to hold on to one setting for an extended period -- several seasons of the Church Year or six months or more -- before changing. We generally use one setting for all the Sundays in ordinary time and another setting for the festival Sundays. During our anniversary year we did change a bit more often so that we used DS 3 once a month or so throughout the fiftieth year celebration. That was rather unique for us, however.
Using a setting for an extended period allows the congregation to become accustomed to that setting so that it is not so new that it must be slavishly following from the hymnal or bulletin. That is a good thing. Too much change is possible but, I do not believe, beneficial. So I would encourage those who change more frequently to reconsider. A couple of settings per year is enough and some consistency within change is beneficial to all, I believe.
So now you know what I think and you are free to disagree or pull me apart for my opinion....