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Feeling "cut off" from others is one of the major elements in the inner world of the mentally ill. The group of hospital chaplains quoted in Chap. Effective services of worship, whatever more they may be, are good instruments of group therapy. In the group which is thinking and feeling together about the same common ideas, the emotional response is heightened. Twenty centuries witness to the effectiveness of such worship in changing men's lives for the better, in bringing release from guilt and freedom from fear, in giving direction and purpose to their striving, and in lifting them out of neurotic self-concern into healthful and creative relationships to their fellows.

Ross Snyder has articulated a world view which provides a conceptual foundation for understanding worship. He starts with a "field theory" of the universe -- that is, one in which everything is interpenetrating: He who is aware of and remains open to this field quality will live most vividly and in greater dimension.

Worship is seen as an effort to return to the state of openness to the personal field in which the individual has a small but creatively significant part. God is conceived, not as another localized, individual consciousness, but as the personal ground out of which we emerge and by means of which we grow and find renewal.

God is best known through concrete personal life and through transactions of the spirit with the people around oneself, including those present symbolically and in memory. Entering into life other than one's own awakens powers within us through an actual interchange of energy. It is finding God in personal encounter.

It is a return from the far country of estrangement both from other people and from the "ground of personal spirit that is hidden deep within us and the universe. The energizing effects of corporate worship become understandable within this world view. I am present with people whose lives interpenetrate mine, and it is this living network that is at worship.

Also as a worshiper I reverently enter into the lives of people who have lived with greatest passion and integrity There is this sense of the numinous actually being present as the ground of our life together and of my own personal life. Snyder's approach is complemented by Reuel L. Howe's conception of prayer as the practice of relationship.

Howe points out that the five types of prayer describe five kinds of relationships:. Adoration is giving ourselves to another in love and honest admiration. Confession is the acceptance and acknowledgment of our words and acts of alienation. Petition is an acknowledgment of our dependence on one another. Intercession is the expression of our responsibility to live for and to help one another. And thanksgiving is the expression of our gratitude for fellowship and all other blessings.

Seabury Press, , p. Prayer, the heart of worship, is an act of love which results from choosing to respond to God's love. It means letting go of one's egocentric isolation and becoming able to live in the mystery of relatedness. There must be a genuine warmth with dignity in a worship service if personal isolation is to be overcome. The minister sets the tone for this climate, but the congregation determines whether it will be actualized.

Potthoff tells a story about a woman in a certain church who was asked, after the service, whether she was a stranger there. She responded, "Why, yes, I've been a stranger here for forty years. I Winter, , There are, however, many people who need the church who are threatened by close relationships. Some of these attend the worship service because they expect it to involve only a limited degree of social interaction. They can gain genuine help from the service, if their need for social distance is respected.


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An overemphasis on "fellowship" can overwhelm such persons. Those churches which ask strangers to stand during the service or which exert heavy pressure on fringe-participants to interact following the service tend to drive such persons away. Increasing general congregational participation in the worship service strengthens its centering function without threatening the fringe-type person. Familiar, singable and theologically valid hymns are important. Studies in the psychology of music show that group singing is an effective way of creating group solidarity.

The imaginative minister will find a variety of ways to increase meaningful congregational participation. The Episcopal practice of the congregation saying "Amen" frequently during prayers and rituals is an example of a participation-enhancing worship form. There is a growing awareness in the field of pastoral counseling that many who turn to the church cannot utilize insight-oriented approaches to help.

Because of weakness or rigidity in their personalities, they can be helped most by a sustaining relationship of dependence within which they can handle their life situations more constructively. The church fellowship offers a major resource for helping millions of such persons in our society to live closer to their own unique potentialities. Because of his symbolic role as a religious authority figure, the minister naturally attracts a circle of dependent persons who gain strength by identifying with him and with the group which he leads.

The need for dependency relationships obviously is not limited to those who are emotional cripples. All of us, to some degree, need supportive relationships with groups and their leaders. We function better when we have such relationships and falter when uprooted from them. In this light, consider the following statement about the value of corporate worship:.

The weekly experience of corporate worship is supportive to many persons, including those who cannot identify with other group experiences demanding more intimate participation. The fact that life-transforming insights do not flash on the psychic landscape of a very large percentage of a congregation on a given Sunday does not mean that the service is of little value. Everyone -- weak and strong egos alike -- needs meaningful, supportive experiences. The fact that such a supportive group experience is available week in. The worshiper, aware of his minister, his fellow-worshipers, and his part in the "endless line of splendor" which is the church through the centuries, is released to some degree from his loneliness and empowered by the awareness of belonging.

I recall a game from my childhood played with an old-fashioned spring driven phonograph. We would wind it until the record table whirled as fast as possible. Then we would drop small objects on the spinning surface and respond with delight as they flew off in all directions. That childhood game is a reasonable facsimile of modern life as many experience it. Many of us go around so fast we are constantly threatened by centrifugal forces. These have deleterious effects on both our inner serenity and the health of our relationships.

For many people the worship hour is the only time during the week when they sit quietly and "collect" themselves. Worship involves what Hocking calls "the principle of alternation," of gaining inner strength by alternating from one kind of activity to another. During his most active period, Albert Schweitzer's daily schedule was a classic illustration of the use of this principle.

On a given day he might move from conducting a worship service, to making medical rounds in his hospital, to doing construction work on a new leprosy-treatment center, to practicing the organ, to working on a manuscript. In our hyperactivist culture, worship is a radical and essential form of alternation for most of us. In an effective worship service, the participants have an existential awareness of the meaning of the words of the Lord to Isaiah: There is healing power in quietness and rest.

After an exhausting week, many worshipers respond with gratitude when their minister repeats the ancient invitation, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" Matt. Worship is integrating because it encourages persons to center down while looking up. It presses beyond every detail, and affirms in faith God who holds all things in his hands All the brokenness of life comes together in a great Te Deum.

As a time-exposure to what is regarded by the person and the group to be the most important aspects of reality, worship gives the individual an opportunity to separate the wheat from the chaff in his values and activities. Harry Emerson Fosdick writes "In worship we are reminded of the values that the world makes us forget. Kemp in Life Situation Preaching St. Bethany Press, , p. In planning a worship service, the minister should provide generous opportunities for quietness.

He should be aware of the pace of the service, seeking to establish a quiet rhythm and a mood of serenity. There should be a balance between quietness and challenge in the total service. It is within the milieu of a reviving worship experience that the challenge of the sermon can best be received. In addition to these considerations, it is well to remember that the inner condition of the minister will be felt by his congregation. When the woman touched Jesus she sensed the serenity and vitality of one who was open to himself, to others, and to the universe. This inner openness is extremely difficult to maintain in our frantic kind of world, but it is the prerequisite for effective leadership in worship.

Another value of worship is that of providing a rich experience of the numinous and the transcendent. This is of particular importance to mental health in our period of history. Technological cleverness has dulled our awareness of the wisdom of wonder. Steere has pointed to Carl Jung's diagnosis of our inward poverty:. Whether from an intellectual, moral or aesthetic point of view, the undercurrents of the psychic life of the West are an uninviting picture.

We have built a monumental world around us But it is so imposing because we have spent upon the outside all that is imposing in our natures -- and what we find when we look within must necessarily be as it is, shabby and insufficient. Steere then draws on the insights of Arnold Toynbee to identify the historical roots of our present impoverishment.

Chapter 3: The Worship Service and Mental Health

Toynbee has shown how the genius and creativity of the West has been poured into technical pursuits since the beginning of the seventeenth century, largely to the neglect of man's inner life. He holds that our civilization will perish unless we invest a larger proportion of our "liquid spiritual capital" in the cultivation of educational resources and deep religious insights.

Experiencing awe and wonder can revive and stretch the spirit of a man. But this requires the interruption of the infatuation with our own cleverness. The experience of wonder flourishes when one becomes aware of the mysteries and revelations of God in four areas -- the inner life of man, interpersonal relationships, science, and nature. Reviving wonder requires relinquishing what Toynbee calls "the idolization of the invincible technician. Somehow we must give up our obsession with manipulating nature and our fellows. Only thus can we recapture the wonder and mystery of the world revealed by our experience.

What is needed is something of that openness to experience suggested by Jesus' words: In his description of the psychologically healthy "self-actualizing" person, psychologist Abraham Maslow includes the "oceanic feeling" among the characteristics of such a person. Maslow in The Self, edited by Clark E. This is very close to the mystical sense of organic relatedness to others and the universe.

Albert Einstein once declared:. The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not, and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which our minds seem to reach only in their most elementary forms; -- it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude.

Farrar and Rinehart, , p. Much of what is healing and growth-stimulating in worship is on a nonverbal level. There are deep feeling-level responses in genuine worship which help keep us in touch with neglected areas of our inner lives. Feelings from our early experiences which continue as important, though hidden influences in our lives as adults are activated and dealt with in worship.

When one's heart is "strangely warmed" in worship, experiential values are actualized which touch the whole personality. This is much more than just an experience of certain feelings. William James observed that mystical states, although similar to states of feeling, are also states of knowledge to those who experience them. In other words, worship at its best takes seriously all levels of the psyche. Because the deeper, nonverbal levels tend to be impoverished in our culture, worship should concentrate special attention on these levels through the use of symbolic and artistic expressions.

It should attempt to involve the whole person in a total experience.

Because it can touch the depths as well as the heights of human experience, it has tremendous health and growth potentialities,. As a strange blend of "animal and angel," to use Nietzsche's phrase, a man grows weary of being chained to the world of nature, subject to its drives and its tragedy. Worship is a way of renewing one's awareness of the eternal in the crowded dailyness of time. In her cross-cultural studies, anthropologist Ruth Benedict noted the ubiquitous presence of a belief in what she called "wonderful power.

How can increasing numbers of worshipers come alive to the reality of the vertical dimension? Many factors play a part. The scriptures, the sermon, prayers, sacraments, music, lighting, heating or air conditioning , church architecture, and visual symbols which communicate an awareness of the mystery and majesty of God are all instruments to this end.

The crucial factor, however, is the attitude of those who lead the service. They set the tone. Their sense of awe and reverence will be communicated to the congregation. The minister's sense of reverence will be transmitted to his people by the way he handles each facet of the worship service. A congregation will sense to whom the pastoral prayer is addressed. They will be aware of whether or not the minister experiences the Bible as containing the living Word when he reads from its pages. They will know if he has a mystical sense of encountering the personhood of the author of a particular passage, and if, through that encounter, he meets the living God.

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The minister has a responsibility to teach the choir, ushers, custodian, and congregation to grasp the uniqueness of worship, as contrasted with other gatherings of people. One of the major mental health values of worship is as a feeding experience. Every person needs periodic replenishing of his inner resources. Regular intake experiences are required to balance the outgo. Intake experiences are those in which one feels loved, cared for, esteemed, and fed through the stimulation of ideas, music, inspiration, relationships, and the pleasures of the senses.

Worship is a major means of overcoming inner emptiness through the rich experience of psychological-spiritual feeding. The amount of spiritual hunger in our society is immense, but it would be even larger were it not for the churches. But many others can accept feeding from the minister and the church. They come to the worship service and are fed hopefully the "bread of life. If they are fortunate, their spirits are nourished by the familiar flow of the service, by the hymns and anthems, by the uplift of the church's architecture, by the well-known liturgies and rituals, by the inspiration of great passages from the Bible, by the challenge to their minds of a thoughtful sermon, and by the supportive presence of many friends.

The sacrament of Holy Communion is the symbol, par excellence, of the giving, feeding function of the church.

Abraham Kuyper's Our Worship: First English translation

It is an action-symbol of the nurturing love of God. It is a celebration of the givingness of life. The theme of gratitude is expressed in the word "Eucharist" by which the sacrament is known in the Eastern Orthodox churches. Participation in this sacrament is a deeply moving and renewing experience for those who have discovered its vital symbolism.

It is a way of renewing one's "good parent" within and thus enabling one to experience an inner source of giving and love. The profound effect of Holy Communion on the lives of many worshipers is an example of the healing power of symbols. The sacrament is meaningful on many levels. For example, one of the deeper levels has to do with the desire to consume and become like one who is both feared and admired. The sacramental meal practiced by the primitive tribes of Australia illustrates this level of meaning.

They periodically kill and eat a representative of the sacred totem animal of the tribe. The attributes of the totem animal for instance, the speed and strength of the kangaroo , are thought to be acquired by the person consuming this animal in the sacramental feast. The symbolism of sharing common food and drink and thus becoming united on a deep level appears in many cultures. This theme is also embodied in the communion service. There is little doubt that, on a profound level, communion is a reenactment of certain impulses and conflicts which occurred during the "oral" stage of infancy, when food was love and the lack of it, death.

This is the level of intra-psychic conflicts which, if unresolved, produce mental illness. The significance for mental health of the orality of the worship service in general and the communion sacrament in particular can be understood in this context. Unacceptable impulses are transformed through symbolic, ritual practices into socially constructive feelings and motivation.

Thus, the continuing inner conflicts from the first years of life are rechanneled and their intensity drained off through group religious practices. In planning and leading worship, the minister should concentrate on enhancing its feeding function by enriching the service in every way possible. In his selection of materials, he should use a variety of resources from the spiritual riches of the ages and from contemporary sources. He can help to feed the minds of his people by presenting great ideas, their senses through visual symbols and the beauty of fine music, their hearts through sacraments and prayers which touch them with emotional power.

Most important of all is the giving of himself in and through the service. A minister who is self-aware knows when he has poured his God-given inner resources into a worship experience. His people know it too and respond with gratitude. Erik Erikson, a leading psychoanalytic thinker, holds that a baby develops a sense of "basic trust" or "basic distrust" during the first year of life.

If, due to the quality of his relationship with the mothering-one, he comes to feel that life can be trusted to satisfy his basic needs, he develops a core feeling of trust. This is "basic" in that it becomes the basis for all subsequent relationships of trust. An adult's foundational attitudes about himself, others, and the world in general are colored by these powerful feelings from his earliest experiences. But what about those whose ability to feel inner trust is limited as a result of early experiences of emotional malnutrition? This, of course, means everyone, to some degree.

It is religion which by way of ritual methods offers man a periodic collective restitution of basic trust which in adults ripens to a continuation of faith and realism. International Universities Press, , I, italics supplied. Dynamic worship is a wellspring for the renewal of trust. Across the centuries men and women have found a renaissance of trustful feelings -- in themselves, in others, in God, and in the future -- through corporate worship.

This fresh baptism of trust allows many people to handle psychological loads of crushing dimensions. A beautiful symbol of the presence of basic trust is the Quaker idea of the "inner light. To some degree I am of the image of God I too am freedom -- a transcendence over what I already am, and from the impersonal order of the universe. The effect of such an experience is to reinforce and undergird self-esteem. The renewal of basic trust gives a person the ability to face the abyss of ultimate or existential anxiety see Chap.

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When a person can feel with the psalmist,. Here you will find a renewed understanding and practical application for all sacred actions of the church: In this comprehensive volume, an ecumenical group of evangelical scholars, denominational leaders, and ministers provide insight into the traditions and practices of the sacred actions of worship in the ancient, Medieval, Eastern Orthodox, Reformation, and modern churches.

Other sections highlight the historical origins and development of ritual in worship. Numerous historical and contemporary liturgical and special worship services are provided throughout the volume.


  1. Abraham Kuyper's Our Worship: First English translation.
  2. The Complete Library of Christian Worship (7 vols.) - Logos Bible Software.
  3. The Complete Library of Christian Worship (7 vols.).
  4. Under the Skin: A Novel (.).
  5. Worship is the context for ministry. This volume will show you how worship and pastoral ministries work hand in hand: Over 30, people have attended his workshops, and he has authored over forty books on worship and the church, including the Ancient-Future Collection, available from Logos. He has also written Renew Your Worship and developed a complete audio and video series based on the book and its related workshops. Prior to his appointment at Northern Seminary, Webber taught at Wheaton College for thirty-two years as professor of theology. He has taught courses on the history, theology, and practice of worship and spirituality.

    Faithlife Your digital faith community. Logos Powerful Bible study tools. Faithlife TV A Christian video library. Faithlife Proclaim Church presentation software. Chapters 3 vols. The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible 43 vols. Proverbs John Phillips Commentary Series 27 vols. The Complete Library of Christian Worship 7 vols. Pay Monthly Customize the length of your payment plan in cart. Overview If you are looking for more knowledge and tools for teaching and leading worship in a converging spiritual world, then you will find what you are looking for here.

    Most comprehensive worship reference ever Every major Christian group represented Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, Charismatic More than contributors Complete biblical, historical, theological, and cultural analysis Complete examples of services from every tradition Helpful adaptations of ancient and historical services for contemporary use Exhaustive annotated bibliographies.

    And the thing is bursting with information on worship—spanning from things you know you need to know, all the way to those smallest details that you never imagined you needed to know about worship The idea is so good and the application meets so many requirements, this is definitely a resource that every pastor and worship leader should add to their software library. The Complete Library of Christian Worship 8 vols.

    Star Song Publishing Group Volumes: In an extraordinary way, The Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship is a massive and comprehensive undertaking designed to provide the biblical context out of which worship is celebrated and enacted. It establishes the working definition for worship through the specific vocabularies of the Old and New Testaments and highlights the use of symbolism, sacrifice, a sense of the numinous, and the myriad of responses to salvation history.

    Twenty Centuries of Christian Worship Editor: Twenty Centuries of Christian Worship is a valuable resource for exploring the richly textured worship heritage of the Christian church. It is at once broad and specific, with a clarity of focus that challenges readers to understand the present by looking at the past and to think critically but sensitively about why and how Christians worship. The Renewal of Sunday Worship Editor: Teachers and students of worship have long needed a composite resource for planning and leading participatory worship, one which respects tradition and, at the same time, focuses on worship renewal in the contemporary church.

    Robert Webber combines his years of scholarly research and personal experiences with contributions from over 60 denominations and writers. The result is The Renewal of Sunday Worship, a storehouse of resources that bring theory and practice together for the worshiping community. The opening section of Music and the Arts in Christian Worship offers an overview of the current worship practices of most of the major denominations in this country, each prepared by a person active in that particular church. Read individually, they furnish a wealth of fresh ideas; collectively, they give evidence that, while each denomination remains theologically focused on its tradition and centers its worship on the familiar, there is hardly one which is not actively re-examining its worship philosophy and experimenting with new forms, music, and visual art.

    Style is becoming more and more eclectic, and there is a healthy regard for the special contribution that every individual may make. Worship, once almost the property of the officiating clergyman rigorously hewing to a prescribed pattern, has rightly become the responsibility of every person. The Services of the Christian Year Editor: