By Martha June Kirby
Our Anglican roots serve only to remind us that (John) Wesley was a radical revivalist who knew that to reach the masses he could not expect them to venture into high cathedrals.
No, Wesley knew to reach the marginalized he had to do something quite contemporary. For the very same reason we “younger, more charismatic personalities” are diverting our attention from the established liturgical norms. We represent an eclectic group of young and old alike that are engaging an invigorating style of worship that is equal in value to traditional liturgy and proven to be more relative in growing modern day disciples.
To dismiss this “alternative” worship style as a mere candy-coated, counterfeit version of the gospel is a myopic view of the lively, colorful messages that explode with new life. Crafting such an experience takes much time, creativity, a team and, yes, technological skills. Such a God-given knack to reach a people and spark a lasting change coupled with the willingness to step out on faith and embrace the culture is worth celebrating. “To the Greek we become Greek.”
Our founding father is known for preachin’ in the field on a level that the common folk could understand, relate to and, thus, experience a lasting spiritual awakening. This is exactly what many contemporary worship leaders seek to accomplish. We can get bogged down in semantics, but “contemporary” is simply speaking the vernacular of the people. We find ourselves in a time when the vernacular of this generation is dominated by iPods, reality TV, MP3s, BlackBerries, MySpace, text messaging, dig cams and downloads. Why would we not seek to speak their language?
By choosing contemporary worship, we are actually choosing to practice radical hospitality. We are making ready a house that is inviting to the lost, lonely and left out. Jesus ministered to this very same fringe of society — the “sinners,” tax collectors and whores — and he, at a mere 30-something, taught them in the streets, by the sea, in their homes, at the water well and where ever he could find them.
Just as our Master Teacher used techniques that one might label “entertaining” — signs and wonders, miracles, object lessons, storytelling and speaking in parables — contemporaries, too, strive to share the gospel in a revitalizing and engaging way. We younger charismatics are just seeking to be what we are called to be — the open doors that the next generation can walk through.
Kirby, a pastor’s wife, assists with children’s ministries at Saucier and Poplar Head UMC. Kirby is a candidate for ordained ministry and has served in multifaceted staff and volunteer roles over the past decade.