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Cultural Changes

Generational variation is a key concept of worship; it is a factor which continues to shape worship models in the contemporary religious set up. The choice of ministry approach in a diverse generational set up is a dilemma that most ministers are currently struggling. In addition, the ever-widening gap between the “old” and the “new” generation poses a great threat on the choice of modest models of administering gospel to humanity.1 Theological studies explain this dilemma as a factor of the interpretation or mentality that generations have regarding worship. Different generations have their expectations in the ministry and worship too. Consequently, the minister as an agent of the message, must overcome this “instructional dilemma” and pursue the delivery of services of worship intelligibly.2

Cultural changes: Impacts of change in culture on worship

As mentioned in an earlier submission, the understanding of the cultural evolution in the worshipping place is an exceptional component of the worshipping process. Approaches used by different age sets and generations are very different. Most notably, the conceptual understanding of worship has invariably led to the adoption of a different style of worship. The dynamism of culture dictates that worship strategies must be very flexible. Contemporary theological dispositions have affirmed that some elements of worship are not cast on a stone; these elements vary depending on cultural backgrounds of individuals.3 Most considerably, is the assumption of dynamism of hat cultural practices; they keep on changing with emerging issues in the society.

Anthropologists attribute globalization and urbanization as one of the most prominent issues that influence worship trends since they tend to create their own distinct cultural model. Urbanization in itself is incessantly drawing a line between the liberal worshiping frameworks and the conservatives. The contemporary models of praise and worship in the churches are considered relatively “liberal” in terms of the observation of the canons of their denominations; moreover, the model of worship of these denominations is anchored on very charismatic platforms4. The generational gap between the “old” conservative cohort and the “modern” liberal group defines the sculpt of worship. The structural framework of the worship centers must be alive to these cultural vagaries and adapt but without compromising the canons of their faith as enshrined in their fundamental teachings.5

Providently, the concept of generational change has led to widespread conflicts in worship models in many denominations. Several denominations have been subjects of tug-of-war regarding worship issues. From a sociological approach, these dilemmas are quite explainable. The ideological differences stemming from the gap between the old and the young is constantly threatening the union of church and worship by extension. The church leadership must bridge this cultural divide. Socio – cultural inclement in the worship institutions must be amicably sorted out for the advancement of the worship.

Contemporary issues have had a profound influence on human culture; incidentally; these cultural issues continue to influence the worshipping model of the society. Yong, in Afro-Pentecostalism: Black Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in history and culture, admits that indeed, the dilemma between the “accommodations” of cultural subscription of individuals in the worship program is real. He further points out that whatever the magnitude of this cultural dilemma, compromising of standards is unacceptable.6

Music

The postmodern philosophy has greatly led to a significant paradigm shift in the conduct of worshipping sessions in the society. Many institutions of worship are currently focusing on “seeker” services more and more.7 The focus of today’s worshipping session is to use all means to have an inclusive worshipping session that takes into account all the social- cultural differences and even the generational divide amongst the worshippers. The culture of praise and worship is in incessant change, churches are employing music as the primary “seeker” element to get more people into the church, but most importantly, music has had a tremendous impact on the manner in which the current generation perceives worship.8

Music as a tool for accommodating cultural differences in worship

The role of music in worship is as clear a crystal. Worshipping experience without music is considered invalid; no wonder Kimball asserts that the cardinal reasoning behind the adoption of music during worship is to “conserve the Christian experience and impress the Spiritual truth.” However, the emerging social issues have transformed the worshiping experience tremendously. The “seeker services” as pursued by most local churches in the contemporary society have relegated the significance of music in worship to a mere “entertainment and appeasement.”9

Warren, while airing his opinions on the purpose driven church, argues that any worship model must be focused on bringing more people to church. From a critical look, his sentiments are in total support of the philosophy perpetuated by the charismatic movement. While this work does not seek to offer its verdict on this proposition, it does have an intellectual mandate to analyze the operational model of these charismatic worshippers in relation to the gospel. It is not enough to seek for individuals to join worshippers; rather, it is perfect to let the conviction of the spirit do its work. The use of music to “appeal” to masses is indeed very noble, but it defies the basic tenets of worship that comes out of conviction. Warren’s assertion that “if it draws crowds, it must be of God,” is a quintessential indication of a “seeker” philosophy that anchors its belief on “numbers”; and to the “seekers,” Music is the primary model of drawing these crowds.10

The use of music as entertainment in church is currently shifting worshiping prototype from a praise and meditation point into an entertainment affair. The current subscription to the postmodern theological philosophy is not making this situation better. In a bid to “attract” more worshippers, very unconventional methods are currently being applied in the worshipping centers. The church has no mandate in “hawking” itself to fit the preference of the worshipper but rather, to endear itself to the biblical canons.11

This work is not aimed at vilifying the use of music. The role of music in worship is non-debatable; it is a primary component of worship. The need to understand worship in the biblical context is central in understanding the real meaning, and importance of music in worship. When music is intertwined with the concept of “purpose driven” worship, packaged to fit the “demands of the market,” then it is obsolete. It beats the main logic of worshipping. However, if the music is restricted to serving its purpose of adoring the creator and not as an entertainment prodigy aimed at attracting more people into worship, then it must be encouraged.

Technology and Media

The impact of disruptive technology continues to define how the society worships today. The worshiping climate in the contemporary society has become more and more advanced as compared to the erstwhile conditions. Technology is becoming more and more indispensable in regards to worship. All evangelistic strategies have two main aims, the advancement of the gospel and the enhancement of the worshiping experience. Disruptive technology has been very crucial in the propagation of these two aspects of the gospel: advancement and improvement of the worshiping experience. Systemic inclusion of these technological advancements is for the betterment of the gospel. Conversely, technology has played a very diabolical role in the “decimation” of an effective worshiping experience. The inception of these technological models in the worshiping centers with disregard for temperance is a tinderbox likely to corrode the quality of worship in the society.12

Social cohesion fabrics weakened or enhanced?

Technology has been accused of gradually eroding the social fabrics that unite worshippers. The need to congregate together for the sake of the gospel and have a unified worshipping session is under intense threat currently. The adoption of video conferencing, social media, internet, and other technological components is slowly replacing the human bonds. This erosion of the worshiping experience is a threat to the quality of worship in the society. It does well in advancing the spread of the gospel but does very little in the improvement of the human social bonds which are key to the worship experience. Technology should not be an instrument to supplement the existing structures, but rather a tool of complementing. In this regard, the replacement of humanity negates the essence of worship. Theologically, humanity is the medium through which divinity operates, God uses the human medium to advance the course of the gospel and yet, technological advancement is inherently seeking to replace them.13

Despite its negative attributes, the inception of the use of media in worship is critical. Elevation of the gospel and the worshiping practice has been greatly attributed to the media. The media’s role in the dissemination of the gospel is very pronounced. Propagation of the worship occurrence is one fundamental role of the media and technology. Use of technological devices still furthers the agenda of the believers. Interestingly, the inception of these technological components continues to advance the communication channels between believers and advance the course of the gospel.14

Pecuniary costs to worship

The cost of championing for the causes of worship has been drastically reduced. The role of the information and technological advancements in the globalization process have been outlined as “impressive” the globe has been “shrunk” into a small village where the gospel is easily advanced to other populations but at a very cheaper cost. The cost-cutting concept has enabled worshipping models to be advanced into other regions in a timely and efficient manner.15

Worshiping culture: technology and “spiritual destruction”

Borgmann consummately gives a spiritual view of the need to be slightly “frugal” with technology in worship. The simplicity of spiritual life reflects the humility of Christ himself. The “flashiness and pomp” in the use of technology at the worship centers leads to “spiritual distraction.” The sentiments of Spinks may be the true picture of how technology influences the experience of worshiping, but it does not “abolish” the need to use these gadgets. The call for the worshippers is to practice temperance so that modesty is outlined in the execution of worship. In the desire to bridge the “generational divide” amongst worshippers compromises on quality, that is why authors like Susan White advocates for absolute frugality in the adoption of emerging trends in the worship experience since they “dilute” service quality.16

Vernon contends with the reality of technology in the corrosion of worship. In his publication, power failure, Vernon argues that the excessive use of technology during worship is capable of changing something from a “commanding reality” with very intense personal value and effectively transforms it into a “disposable reality” barren of meaning and power.”17 Vernon further elucidates that this shift into “disposable reality” is a very poignant factor in changing humanity and the manner in which humanity views the world. Above all though, it impairs the spiritual content of the lives of believers and shifts the focus of experience from a spiritual horizon into a more aesthetic focus.18

Presentation of Worship

Presentation of worship is a subset of theological foundations of various denominational constructs. Over time though, various denominations have witnessed the models of worship change thus ensuring that there is a very systematic deviation from the theological norms onto which such denominations were formed. As explained earlier in this submission, several factors attribute to these changes. This segment of the discourse will focus on how presentation in the context of gospel and worship continues to determine how worship occurs.

Worship experience as an interrogation of our spirituality

The atmosphere of worship is incessantly determined by the manner in which worshiping presentation is done. The conception that one has on the presentation of worship plays a very cardinal role in the whole experience of praise and worship. Moreover, the need to have an atmosphere of effective worship is superimposed in the model of delivering it. The reformation rubric was based on the worshiping presentation as the axle. The presentation of worship must thus be based on very solid biblical foundations as emphasized by the reformist. Our fidelity to the bible is defined by the manner in which we undertake our presentation in reference to worship; it is the greatest test of spirituality as enshrined in the biblical canons, otherwise what exactly is the impact of the presentation of worship in regards to the worshipping experience of believers?19

Communion with God

The essence of worship is the fact that humanity is capable of communing with God spiritually. The pledge of the existence of God during worship effectively captures the need to worship. In this regard, theology asserts that the model of our worship presentation determines the experience in terms of seeking for that desired “communion” with the creator.20 The church has witnessed a significant evolution in the models of worship over time. Moreover, presentation models have been very core fault lines onto which several denominations that share a common belief have parted ways. Charismatic movement, for instance, despite their belief in the reformation and Luther’s dispositions as enshrined in the 95 theses, adopted a different view of worshiping presentation that ended up further splitting the reformists into factions. In this regard, it can be deduced that the mode in which worship is done is a reflection of the faith of an individual. It defines the “spiritual congregation” with God.21

Others prefer a more silent and meditational approach as pursued by the conservationists while others favor the “clamorous and vociferous” worship experience. Whichever model one prefers; theological and philosophical foundations aver that these models have profound effects on spiritual union with God.22 The contributions of these models in defining the relationship with God is immense, quoting from the book of Mathew, Segler and Randall concur that the worship experience must be laced with humility and less pomp. The prayer rubric, as discussed in Mathew, is after all, the epitome of simplicity done in quietness and meditation. Presentation of prayer and worship must not be anchored on “sensual stimulation,” but rather “spiritual stimulation.” The mildness in which spiritual worshipping experience is done limits one to think more of the worshipped other than the process, this, according to Vernon in her explications on the biblical foundations of worship, means that our presentation must dictate our loyalty to the one we believe.23

Approaches to Preaching

As earlier alluded to in this discourse, evangelistic approaches take into consideration the fundamental interest of the gospel and the worshipping experience. Redman offers a consummate analysis of the manner in which preaching approaches used by ministers influence the worshipping climate in the society.24Approaches to preaching have a profound effect on the on the believers and how they worship. He further poses an interesting question: how does one simultaneously minister to both believers and non-believers and still achieve the objectives of the message, and with no compromise? The response is defined by how one designs the preaching model to the audience.

Postmodernism and the concept of “creative evangelism”

Christian theology affirms that the objectives of preaching vary depending on the situation and audience. The approach used might be based on the need to “motivate” an individual, or to “caution,” and to “transform” one to embrace Christ. A need analysis must be followed by the correct approach so that the message is not in vain. The postmodern evangelism however, has brought forth an interesting concept in worship that is worth mentioning – “creative evangelism.” Creative evangelism focuses on the need to “invent” creative and melodramatic evangelistic models to “draw” crowds to church.25 As explained earlier, the postmodernists are concerned with bridging “ideological and generational divide.” Standards do not matter as long as there is “appeasement” to worship. This preaching model is very superficial. In Preaching and the Other: Studies of Postmodern Insights, Allen reveals that the practice of good preaching is the onset of proper worshipping style thus it should form the basis of preaching for the modern ministers.26

The model of preaching instills fidelity to commandments of the creator. The role of the minister is thus very crucial in the assurance of significance in obeying God’s commandments. As earlier mentioned, it is incumbent on the preacher to define the exact role of the preaching process.27 The definition helps in propagating the message effectively. Effective preaching must be anchored on the pursuance of truth. When truth is given to the flock, the success of the message is guaranteed. It is in truth that the gospel claims independence and so the preaching must be focused on absolute verity and not on “marketing” the gospel.28 Hoyt outlines that “preaching is the assembly where the components of worship is assembled,” it is, therefore, incumbent on the minister to establish high standards so that efficiency is achieved.29 The lectionary and style of worship, according to Arthur, is influenced by the interpretation of the scriptural writings. Consequently, the ministers base the scriptural understanding upon proper preaching and guidance. Preaching methods can thus be said to be a critical aspect of praise and worship. Its significance cannot be gainsaid.30

Bibliography

Allen, Ronald. Preaching and the Other: Studies of Postmodern Insights. New York: Chalice Press, 2008.

Borgmann, Albert. Power Failure: Christianity in the Culture of Technology. Westport: Baker books, 2003.

Clitherow, Andrew. “Book Review: Culture and Worship; Inculturation of Christian Worship: Exploring the Eucharist.” The Expository Times 116, no. 4 (2005): 139-140.

Duty, Jason, and David Schwind. “Acoustical design issues for contemporary places of worship.” The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 120, no. 5 (2006): 3148.

Etherington, Charles. Protestant worship music: its history and practice. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1995.

Ferguson, William Everett. Some contemporary issues concerning worship and the Christian assembly. Parkersburg, WV: Ohio Valley College, 2008.

Frame, John. Contemporary worship music: a biblical defense. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Pub., 2007.

Hoyt, Arthur Stephen. Vital elements of preaching. New York: The Macmillan Company, 2004.

Kimball, Dan. Emerging Worship: Creating Worship Gatherings for New Generations. Kansas City, MO: Zondervan/Youth Specialties, 2009.

Matthew, Pinson. Perspectives on Christian Worship. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2009.

McNeal, Reggie. The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2009.

Palmer, Michael, and Stanley Horton. Elements of a Christian worldview. Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 2008.

Power, David Noel. Worship, culture and theology. Washington, DC: Pastoral Press, 2011.

Redman, Robb. The Great Worship Awakening: Singing a New Song in the Postmodern Church. Washington, D.C.: J. Wiley & Sons, 2002.

Reimer, Dalton Wayne. Approaches to preaching: an analysis of twentieth-century concepts and theories of preaching. Evanston, Ill.: Routledge, 1971.

Segler, Franklin, and Randall Bradley. Christian Worship: Its Theology and Practice. Buffalo, N.Y.: B&H Publishing Group, 2006.

Spinks, Brian. The Worship Mall: Contemporary Responses to Contemporary Culture. Washington, D.C.: Church publishing, 2011.

Towns, Elmer, Ed Stetzer, and Warren Bird. 11 Innovations in the Local Church: How Today’s Leaders Can Learn, Discern and Move into the Future. Ventura, California: Regal Books, 2007.

Vega, April. “Music Sacred and Profane: Exploring the Use of Popular Music in Evangelical Worship Services.” Journal of religion and popular culture 24, no. 3 (2012): 365-379.

Warren, Richard. The Purpose Driven Church: Growth without Compromising Your Message & Mission. Michigan: Zondervan, 2008.

Whaley, Vernon. Called to Worship: The Biblical Foundations of Our Response to God’s Call. New Brunswick: Thomas Nelson Inc, 2002.

White, Susan. Christian Worship and Technological Change. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2011.

Yong, Amos. Afro-Pentecostalism Black Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in history and culture. New York: New York University Press, 2011.

Young, Steve. All about– music technology in worship. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard, 2004.

Footnotes

  1. William Everett Ferguson, Some contemporary issues concerning worship and the Christian assembly (Parkersburg, WV: Ohio Valley College, 2008), 93.
  2. John Frame, Contemporary worship music: a biblical defense (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Pub., 2007), 153.
  3. Pinson Matthew, Perspectives on Christian Worship (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2009), 107.
  4. Pinson J. Perspectives on Christian Worship.,221.
  5. Michael Palmer and Stanley Horton, Elements of a Christian worldview (Springfield, MO: Logion Press, 20080), 99.
  6. Amos Yong, Afro-Pentecostalism Black Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in history and culture (New York: New York University Press, 2011), 88.
  7. April Vega, “Music Sacred and Profane: Exploring the Use of Popular Music in Evangelical Worship Services,” Journal of religion and popular culture 24, no. 3 (2012): 365-379.
  8. April. “Music Sacred and Profane,” 103.
  9. Andrew Clitherow, “Book Review: Culture and Worship; Inculturation of Christian Worship: Exploring the Eucharist,” The Expository Times 116, no. 4 (2005): 139-140.
  10. Richard Warren, The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission (Michigan: Zondervan, 2008), 77.
  11. Steve Young, All about– music technology in worship (Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard, 2004), 399.
  12. Charles Etherington, Protestant worship music; its history and practice (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1995) 77.
  13. Albert Borgmann, Power Failure: Christianity in the Culture of Technology (Westport: Baker books, 2003), 25.
  14. Elmer Towns, Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird, 11 Innovations in the Local Church: How Today’s Leaders Can Learn, Discern and Move into the Future (New Brunswick: Gospel Light Publications, 2007), 222.
  15. Jason Duty and David Schwind, “Acoustical design issues for contemporary places of worship.” The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 120, no. 5 (2006): 3148.
  16. Susan White, Christian Worship and Technological Change (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2011), 66.
  17. Vernon Whaley, Called to Worship: The Biblical Foundations of Our Response to God’s Call (New Brunswick: Thomas Nelson Inc, 2002), 219.
  18. Vernon. Called to Worship, 237.
  19. David Noel Power, Worship, culture and theology (Washington, DC: Pastoral Press, 2011), 274.
  20. Brian Spinks, The Worship Mall: Contemporary Responses to Contemporary Culture (Washington, D.C.: Church publishing, 2011), 170.
  21. Dan Kimball, Emerging Worship: Creating Worship Gatherings for New Generations (Kansas City, MO: Zondervan/Youth Specialties, 2009), 219.
  22. Reggie McNeal, The Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2009),167.
  23. Franklin Segler and Randall Bradley, Christian Worship: Its Theology and Practice (Buffalo, N.Y.: B&H Publishing Group, 2006), 151.
  24. Robb Redman, The Great Worship Awakening: Singing a New Song in the Postmodern Church (Washington, D.C.: J. Wiley & Sons 2002), 263.
  25. Dalton Wayne Reimer, Approaches to preaching: an analysis of twentieth-century concepts and theories of preaching (Evanston, Ill.: Routledge, 1971), 133.
  26. Ronald Allen, Preaching and the Other: Studies of Postmodern Insights (New York: Chalice Press, 2008), 68.
  27. Arthur Stephen Hoyt, Vital elements of preaching ( New York: The Macmillan Company, 2004), 195.
  28. Arthur, 227.
  29. Ibid, 202.
  30. Ibid,263.
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IvyPanda. 2021. "Worship and Changes in Culture and Technology." April 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/worship-and-changes-in-culture-and-technology/.

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