Almost every congregation is experiencing tension over worship. Many congregations have been participating in a renaissance of worship known as the “liturgical movement” and have reclaimed worship forms that have served the church for centuries. Yet because the church today is operating in a radically changed cultural environment, many people in our society do not understand liturgical worship and thus we must find language, music, themes, and images that speak to the unchurched, spiritually seeking person.
In Beyond the Worship Wars, Thomas G. Long discusses nine characteristics of vital and faithful worship practiced by a wide range of “third-way” congregations: experiencing mystery, practicing hospitality, recovering a sense of drama, emphasizing excellent and eclectic music, creatively adapting the worship space, connecting worship and local mission, encouraging worshipers to develop a repertoire of worship responses, moving toward a joyous festival as worship draws to a close, and employing strong, charismatic pastors. All nine of these characteristics make for vital and faithful worship.