I'm blogging while in the middle of the Presbyterian Church in America's General Assembly (a.k.a GA). We are in the stage of the meetings where various ministries give their reports to the Assembly. It's kind of a passive process of sitting and listening, for quite some time, to many different people who are leading these various ministries. While our church doesn't have immediate involvement with all the ministries reporting, it is certainly exciting to be part of a denomination a that labors diligently to bring the gospel to the various parts of our country, world, and culture.
The PCA is a reformed denomination that is connected to the broader evangelical world in a way other reformed denominations are not. Such a "broadness" brings blessings and challenges. One of the challenges for me, someone committed to a more historical, liturgical form of worship, is the PCA's widespread worship practices. There is no uniform code or guideline for worship style in our denomination. If you are a member of a PCA church in one place traveling to another place in search of a PCA church to attend for worship, chances are high it will look quite different than the church you normally attend. Is this a weakness? I tend to think so, but I'm not very wise about too many things, I admit that. I also tend to be pretty conservative in my views on worship matters, but I don't think everyone has to care what I think, my charge is the local congregation that called me, not the whole denomination or the wider evangelical world as it relates to overseeing worship.
All this to say, last night's opening worship service was ordered very well and I was blessed by the thoughtfulness that clearly went in to it's planning. I liked it so much because it looked remarkably like the order of worship we practice at Redeemer. In many previous opening GA worship services it seemed like they were a bit disjointed, lacked flow, and had too many worship leaders involved. Last night included just two worship leaders who led us enthusiastically through the liturgy and in to the Lord's Supper after a very faithful and effective sermon by the retiring moderator. Verbosity is often an issue in such opening services. Usually there are 5 or 6 ministers assigned to lead the service who take too long with the part of worship they are leading. In my view, a well-crafted liturgy doesn't require a lot of extra comments from the worship leader. Short, succinct, thoughtful transitions are enough. That's basically how the worship service was last night. The liturgy was allowed to do it's job, so to speak. The same is true for the Lord's Supper. It is a major liturgical pet peeve of mine when ministers talk endlessly before communion. Very little needs to be said. A brief invitation, a warning about not taking of the Lord's Supper in an unworthy matter, the words of institution from Scripture, and prayer is all that is needed before the elements are distributed- not a mini sermon. The Sacrament doesn't need our help. Again, last night the minister administering communion did so wonderfully.
Well, Dr. Chapell is now giving his report on my Alma mater, Covenant Seminary- I better shut down and listen...