The 'Turn Toward the Formative' in Contemporary Worship

Hear first-hand accounts and testimonies about this turn to the formative, and discuss what it might mean for faithful and vital worship in your community.


When the contemporary worship movement began in the 1960s or 70s or 80s or 90s (it started at different times in various places), it was often motivated by a desire to make worship more relevant—more expressive of the needs, hopes, and fears of rising generations of worshipers in a variety of cultural contexts. In the last decade or more, there has been a noticeable shift in the blogs, op-eds, and manifestos of several contemporary worship leaders, pastors, publishers, and teachers who are now calling for contemporary worship that is not only relevant, but also formative: worship that challenges believers to “grow in grace and in knowledge of our Lord and Savior.” The result is an outpouring of not only new songs, but also new kinds of songs; not only new services and publications, but new genres of services and publications.

This “turn toward the formative” is something to celebrate! But it is not easy. For this turn challenges us to rethink the consumer mentality that shapes so much of church life, even the church life of those of us who protest it!

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