06 January 2010

A Ponderance

(Note: Let this be a no-flame war post. Write your thoughts, don't attack another's. . . don't worry about responses and back and forth - please, just simply give your thoughts on this - cause I'd be interested to hear what people think. . . not how well they defend. If someone asks for specific clarification, by all means do so - but say your thoughts and let others ruminate upon them.)

I wonder - which is more important (no, this isn't meant to establish a false dichotomy, but rather establish priorities):

1. To reestablish the good and beneficial liturigical rites and customs of the past that have been lost due to carelessness.

2. To teach and explain the benefits of the liturigical rights and customs which we have received.

I find that a lot of the people who are liturigical like to talk about the first - I find I delight more in the second - in seeing the depth and beauty in what we have, rather than desiring a return to what was lost. It's not that I don't desire the first -- it just seems to take less precedence for me. Of course, one might easy say that in reestablishing older customs you are in fact teaching.

Like I said, neither of these are bad - but just. . . which one take priority? So, what think any of you, which is more important? 1 or 2? And why?


Chad Myers said...

Gosh, that's a toughie. In my experience, I've really enjoyed going to the Latin Mass (traditional Tridentine Rite, 1962 version). Many other Catholics I know look at me funny and wonder why I'd go to such a silly, incomprehensible throw-back and mock me.

I think: They've lost what it means to have a deep, rich liturgy. They fail to comprehend the beauty of the liturgy.

What I'm getting at here is that I think if you just force a new (old?) liturgy on them, they'll rebel and not understand it. The good liturgies are essentially lost (in America) and must be rediscovered.

I'd lean towards #2, but now that I think about it, I think you need to do a little #2, then #1. Then more #2, then more #1. Interleave them. Otherwise, what good is a large group of people to understand and appreciate good liturgy but don't celebrate it?

Jason said...

Question: Is #2 distinguishing itself from #1 by the fact that you're teaching about those things we've received that are already in practice, or are you asking what should come first: Doing it or teaching it?

NBeethe said...

In order to help reestablish the rites of #1 you must teach (#2). Then it is not perceived as something thrust upon the congregation by the pastor, but something the people themselves want. #2 takes longer, but will prove much more effective in the long run than simply saying "this is what we are now doing." The amount of change would seem to dictate the amount of teaching necessary.

NBeethe said...

And upon rereading the first post, I see that I missed the distinction between the two. Sorry for being lazy...

Father Hollywood said...

Part of the difficulty can be summed up in the apocryphal words of Tonto: "What do you mean *we*, white man?"

Lutheran practice is so across the board that there really is no "we" (even as there is no Wii or oui either, for that matter).

Just in Detroit, Michigan, there are two churches in the same district - perhaps in the same circuit. One is smells and bells with votive candles in front of statues, the other is happy-clappy with sex sermons during Lent. In those two churches, just what has been "lost" and what has been "received"?

In category one, for many Lutherans, what has been lost includes confession and absolution - one of the six chief parts of the faith itself. In that case, I don't think we can just relegate that to quaint nostalgia and decide that it's kind of like the powdered wig and leave it at that. Not merely desiring - but actually taking steps - to restore this practice is part of the burden laid on us at ordination.

In category two, some of our liturgical rites that have been received include infrequent communion, irreverence at the altar, announcing every page turn, a shunning of vestments, etc. Such "customs which we have received" are now often associated with "Lutheranism" - along with "praise songs" and other wretched hymnody, and things like the pastor speaking and the people singing, children's sermons, altar girls, shot glasses, etc. that we have copied from other denominations. From a Lutheran perspective, none of these things are beneficial, and all have unintended consequences that could have been avoided by our predecessors shunning innovation.

Personally, I think there needs to be a balance between the two.

It is unacceptable, even scandalous, that we have churches that have abolished the Mass, that do not celebrate the sacrament every Sunday, that have abolished confession and absolution, etc. These are things that we have all agreed to in our confessions. And at the same time, restoring that which was lost includes teaching and explaining.

I think far more pastors are overly timid than are "bulls in the china shop." If your congregation is outside of our confessions in practice, it is the pastor's job to move the ship in the right direction - even if it takes years or generations. But I think it is also very easy to do nothing, to shrug and simply accept that this is how it is. Even if we act with glacial slowness, we are not called to accept such conditions and be cowardly about it. We do have to accept that we are going to hack someone off if we hear confessions, or preach about the benefits of frequent communion, or sing our part of the liturgy as indicated in the hymnal If we wait for unanimity, we will keep the status quo (for the sake of the few to the detriment of the many) until the Lord returns.

No matter what we do, there will be people mad at us. That's where wisdom, tact, patience, and timing come into play. It is especially difficult in our anticlerical culture in which the laity often see themselves as "hiring" their pastors and judge what is "Lutheran" by "how we've always done it" instead of how we Lutherans confess that we do it.

It's a great topic for discussion, Eric!

Just my two cents...

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Jason - to clarify for you:

I am assuming that there is a certain amount of decline, a certain amount of liturigical richness that has been lost (as Father Hollywood notes, how much has been lost can vary greatly).

As such, when you come in, and you see the partially full glass, do you attempt to fill up the glass with that which had been there, or do you teach the people of what is still in the glass?

Obviously, you do both - but which takes priority?

William Weedon said...

Our Symbols assert that the chief purpose of ceremonies is to teach. That is not quite the same thing, though, as saying that pastors need to teach about ceremonies. I agree that teaching about ceremonies can be beneficial indeed; but sometimes experiencing the ceremony is itself a rather thorough teaching. Rather than teaching about ceremonies, I'd worry more about preaching and teaching the saving Gospel and let the ceremonies do their "silent" teaching job right alongside of and complimentary to the Gospel proclamation from the pulpit (and in Bible Class).

Chad Myers said...

@Father Hollywood:

What I heard/thought-in-my-mind when I read your comment was you saying "They have lost the sacramentality of Worship." You didn't say those words, but that's what I gathered. You talk about the Liturgy, but Liturgy is how we do things. Your post seemed to be more towards the "why" we do things.

What I gather from your post is that Lutherans need to focus more on the sacramental life and the Liturgy follows from that. Otherwise, it's just a lot of words and singing -- subject to increasing disconnection from God -- and not a lot of words, singing, and sacraments which reinforces the connection to God in a tangible, physical way we humans can relate to it.

I never could understand why (some, most?) Lutheran (LCMS) churches don't celebrate the Eucharist as often as possible instead of a few times a month, if that.

Susan said...

From a layman -- I spent most of my life in churches with liturgy, and even the most happy-clappy stuff I lived with was very mild. But I didn't pay attention to what it was or care about the importance. Ken Wieting taught slowly and patiently about the liturgy, and a certain Fritz also backed up what Ken was saying. I very much see the logic in what Pr Weedon says; I have many friends who say the same thing. But for me, I had no use for the ceremonies until they were explained to me. That may be sinful, but it's the reality of it. On the other hand, maybe my experience is of no help to Pr Brown because, prior to Ken's and Fritz's teaching, I was thoroughly acquainted with what was known as liturgical within our synod up until about 1980 or so.

Rev Rydecki said...

To answer the question, it really is necessary, as Fr. Hollywood said, to establish just what has been lost, what remains, and what innovations have been added. In any case, where ceremonies have been borrowed from Reformed theology, these should be removed, either quickly or slowly, depending.

Using the partially-full glass analogy, I would suggest that in any congregation, one encounters several different glasses, all of which may be filled to different levels.

There is the glass that represents honor for the office of the ministry. As the Confessions say, “It is helpful, so far as can be done, to honor the ministry of the Word with every kind of praise against fanatical people” (Apology, XIII:13). If this was true in Germany in the 16th century, it is 100 times more applicable in 21st century America. I would ask the question: do our current ceremonies honor the office of the ministry (neither Hawaiian shirts nor business suits do, IMO, especially given their preference among the modern-day Enthusiasts)? If the answer is no, then I would say #1 takes priority. If the answer is yes, then I might focus on #2. Perhaps we would eventually work on filling the glass. Is the ministry honored a lot more with a chasuble than with a stole? With a long procession or with a simple, reverent entrance? I don’t know.

There is the glass that represents the Sacrament. First of all, offering the Sacrament should not be considered a ceremony in and of itself. It is one of the two (or three, if there’s a Baptism) direct administrations of the Gospel in the Service (the other being the Gospel preached, which includes both the Absolution and the sermon). If I didn’t find the Sacrament there half of the time (as when I arrived in my current location), I would definitely say #1 takes priority and fill that glass so that at least the Sacrament is not being withheld from God’s people on Sunday mornings (one of the changes I was most happy to have seen at my current location). If the Sacrament is present every Sunday, I believe that already says a good deal about a congregation’s appreciation for it. Does one work hard toward expensive vessels and additional rubrics surrounding the Sacrament? Maybe, but #2 takes priority, in my mind.

There is the glass that represents the Gospel preached. I would ask the question: do the current ceremonies promote the predominance of the Gospel throughout the service? If no, then #1. If yes, then #2. Teach the richness of the Gospel in the expressions that are there already. Can it be enriched with more ceremony? Probably, with time. Is a Gospel procession something to work towards? Maybe, or maybe not.

I’m sure there are more glasses to mention (catholicity, reverence for God, and others). But much depends on the space and on the people. Luther’s Latin Mass was for the city churches with trained choirs and more highly educated people. His German Mass was for the rural churches without trained choirs and less education on the part of the people. Both had ceremonies, to be sure. But the Latin Mass had more.

I’ve been in some very ornate churches in which I would use as many ceremonies as the people could handle. I’ve also worshiped in converted garages in mission settings in which we were reverent in our behavior, but our ceremonies were much more austere.

Then there’s this: I suppose that once the respective glass reaches a certain level, the addition of ceremonies doesn’t actually fill the glass anymore, but simply overflows it. There can be a maximum amount of reverence for the Gospel on the part of God’s people and God’s minister with few ceremonies or with many. Do we teach more reverence and greater appreciation with more ceremony? Not always.

Just some thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Most of my ministry I have served in mission congregations with a majority of the members from non-Lutheran backgrounds (my probable head elder this year was head elder of the local United Methodist Church just a few years ago) and many were entirely unchurched (one young man I baptized along with his infant son on Easter last year had never been inside a church; he said, "I would drive by and wonder what goes on in there, but I didn't think I'd be welcome").

So, it is a constant, ongoing effort to do both, teaching them the meaning of the ceremonies, and adding what are, for them, new ceremonies.

But, for those with some church background, I would say that I probably take advantage of, and emphasize at first, those ceremonies in common with their backgrounds. The former UMC elder, whose father was a UMC pastor, said early on that while there are many differences, we actually have more in common now with the UMC of his youth than today's UMC. Likewise many former Roman Catholics.

Such new Lutherans find it comforting to continue singing familiar hymns and follow familiar liturgical practices, which is testimony to the catholicity of the Missouri Synod at its best. In adult instruction class I always expect some "blowback" about our relatively "high church" practices, but find that is actually one thing that attracted them. As one young lady blurted out (about 30, she former Methodist and a media personality in our area, he former Roman Catholic), "We searched everywhere for a church that just has normal services. You should let people know that you still have normal church services here. All our friends are looking for a church that is still really a church."

mlorfeld said...

I find #2 has a higher priority for me as a good many parishioners don't know why we do what we do (at least they have admitted so, and appreciate when I have taught them where things fit in).

At the same time, I think #1 also can help serving #2. For example, utilizing Chemnitz's exhortation before communion may well serve instructing the importance of the Lord's Supper.

Eleanor said...

Speaking from a strictly lay perspective, I think that #2 needs to come before #1 (at least until the majority of the lay who are regular attenders can articulate why your church does what it does).

I have explained the liturgy to multiple Anglicans and Lutherans, who liked it or disliked it based on whether it made them "feel worshipful" or whether they preferred kneeling. After my explanations most of them have become more receptive to more traditional forms of liturgical practice, or at least express greater respect for those who like them.

Pastors who attempt to introduce new rites without educating the congregation run grave risks. The Lutheran church that confirmed me suffered this fate. When the pastor introduced a processional cross he scandalized the congregation and created factions: one liked the changes and supported the pastor (and were mostly new members), the other opposed the changes and the pastor (mostly people who had been in the congregation for a while).

The nice thing about defending the rites the congregation already uses is that most people will be receptive to the explanations. You, as the pastor, can change the way they think about their liturgy, without making them do things they find uncomfortable. If you have established a framework for thinking about the liturgy, changes which might be uncomfortable (due to their foreignness) at the beginning can be stomached. The congregation will recognize the meetness of the change and will seek to acclimate themselves to it, rather than leaving the church.

I do speak from experience. I was raised to appreciate the liturgy aesthetically, but not to understand it. I was not raised to seek private confession and absolution. Through good education by patient pastors, I learned to understand the liturgy. That prepared me to accept private confession and absolution as appropriate, even if I still did not like it.

Fr. Timothy D. May said...

I cannot find a clear preference between either 1 or 2. Liturgical renewal involves both and more. Even among the most "liturgical" churches among us there are differences in levels of knowledge of, appreciation of, and use of particular practices of the liturgy.

Generally speaking, if a congregation is comfortable with the direction of American protestant Lutheranism (tending toward minimalism, ahistorical revisionism, genericism, etc.) it is probably safe to admit that liturgical renewal, even in the smallest steps, will be very difficult. It is hard to halt the sled going down the hill into the pond.

This does not mean a "traditional" minded congregation will be any easier. There are particular congregational "traditions" that may be held strongly and yet do not line up with the historic liturgy. Not everything called "Lutheran" is "Lutheran," nor is consistent with Lutheran hymnals, rubrics, etc.

When certain liturgical practices are taught rightly so and even gently there will be detraction of one sort or another. Not everyone shares the same understanding or appreciation of these things. This does not mean that the pastor or the congregation are wrong. The danger comes when some take advantage of difficulties and pit the pastor against the congregation or vice versa.

One thing I still have not picked up on (I am so out of touch) is why, for some, liturgical discussion means that one is opposed to Scripture, while for others, such discussion means one is opposed to the Confessions. A more meaningful distinction would be between teaching and prayer. I say yes to both. The liturgy has taught me over the years and yet it remains prayer. Neither should these two understandings be pitted, one against the other.

So yes to 1 and 2. At the Epiphany I came across the wise men falling down and worshiping the Christ Child. This reminded me of the Holy Name of Jesus where we hear that at His name every knee shall bow, which reminded me that the Latin for "knee shall bow" is how we get the word "genuflect." Finally, I found the Apostle defending his apostleship to the Ephesians and doing so by saying that in his tribulations, "I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Traditional practices in the liturgy are there for a reason. Most pastors and congregations can make such simple connections.

There is so much more that can be said on any given liturgical practice. Rather than question anything "new" and make it suspect it is better to question the history of the practice and why we think it is "new." In liturgical renewal often what is "new" is not new at all and is simply a practice that has fallen out of use and needs to be re-discovered and make its way back home.

In my simplicistic way of looking at things I like to ask whether or not this new practice or rite tends in the direction of American protestant Lutheranism or in the direction of the historic liturgy. I know what I believe to be the correct direction but I also understand that my understanding is not held by everyone, maybe not even by the majority of Lutherans. In brief, diagnose directions before taking the steps of teaching and practice or practice and teaching (1 and 2 and 2 and 1 in either and both orders).

Paul McCain said...

If you do not do #2, you won't have a chance to get to #1.

It's just that simple.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I will now give my own thoughts -- for I tend to lean towards number 2. Now, obviously, if there is false doctrine in the rites and liturgy, that needs to be excised as quickly as possible. . . but what if you have just a meager. . . bare. . . not very deep liturgical life? Then, I say teach, teach, teach what you have -- that way you can cut of the calls to have it whittled away more.

In fact, I would posit that much of the reason why so much has been lost is precisely because the value and import and meaning of our rites has not been taught. If we do things simple because "We've always done them this way" the question of "why" might not be well answered, and in our folly we might might abandon what we have.

Or in other words, there was a reason why the youngest child was to ask questions at the Passover Seder -- and it was the Lutheran Question -- What does this mean. This needs be asked concerning our worship to save and preserve what we have.

Also, I find that I end up putting much of the importance of the liturgy on it's teaching value. . . perhaps more than I ought. I am not going to go so far as to say that if one is ignorant of what a rite is for or why one does something that it is without value, but I will say it isn't clear. If something isn't clear, it can be more easily discarded. . . and if the simple isn't clear, the more complex and full isn't going to be appreciated.

Of course, in this way, I am "conservative" -- I am more worried about conserving what we have in the liturgy than of being a "liberal" - of bringing the fuller worship, free of the dregs of our individual culture and quirks that so permeates much of what goes on.

Or maybe it's I just want my people to be able to run the football before they do a play action pass -- I want them to know how to do short passes instead of deep passes first.

Oh gads! I'm a liturgical fundamentalist! Kyrie Eleison, Christe Eleison, Kyrie Eleison.

Anonymous said...

What amazes and confounds me is how much was lost at some point in the LCMS. The classic example is the common sight in many LCMS congregations of a beautiful antique crucifix and chalice--locked up behind glass as part of an historical display! I once found under a pile of junk in the back of a closet two wonderful chalices and two flagons, and a really lovely crucifix laying sideways, hidden on the top shelf of a kitchen cupboard.

I cleaned 'em up and put 'em back into use. One lady in her 80's was in tears the first time we used the chalice again. "I remember that chalice from when I was confirmed. My parents and grandparents and aunts uncles and brothers and sisters and so many others that are all gone now took Communion with that chalice. I thought it was gone forever and it's so great to have it back. It almost feels like they were all here again taking Communion with me today."

I've never quite understood the process by which such once revered items and practices fell by the wayside.

Chad Myers said...

@Rev. Vogts: I believe the reason for losing everything was "The 1960's." I don't think further elaboration is required. :)

What is hopefully, however, is that it seems the next generation (the children of the Gen X'ers) are shaping up to be the anti-1960's from everything I've seen. Indeed, I am very hopeful for a revival across the board in Christianity.

I fear two things as a result (or maybe cause) of this: 1.) God is preparing us for very trying times ahead and 2.) Christianity is set for a major upheaval in Europe and America as the pressures of Islamization in Europe and Seculaization in America force a very great divide in Christianity between the Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, High Methodists (i.e. the 'Church' Christians) and the non-denominationalists "Evangelical" (i.e. the "Bible" Christians).

Paul McCain said...

I think we should do some very honest and hard soul-searching on the extent to which, for some of us, doing the liturgy “just so” becomes an end, not a means to an end.
The various ceremonies and rites of the historic Lutheran liturgy [though there is no one "historic” Lutheran liturgy] are well and good. I love them. Always have, always will.
There has, unfortunately, been a great deal of romanticism that has shaped up in recent years from a certain group among us about in what, precisely, the "best practices" consist. For these folks, the hymnal and agenda of our Synod are never good enough.
But let's be honest enough to admit that a parish and its pastor can be zealous to reinstitute every possible rite and ceremony, doing so at the expense of careful teaching and a lot of equal zeal for mission and outreach.
Consequently, let's be willing to take a hard look at the statistical data of our "high church" congregations and ask some tough questions. I’ll cite some of the data, but not mention names, since that’s not the point.
Parish A has 222 communicants on the rolls, but only 48 show up for worship on any given Sunday. Are we to say that this reality has absolutely nothing to do with the degree to which the pastor has been as zealous for outreach, mission, teaching and catechesis, visiting members, as he is for making sure he observers every minor festival and has the right liturgical haberdashery?
Parish B, about ten years ago, had nearly 600 members, now less than 200, and only around 70 attending Divine Service, but it too has pursued a zealous interest in instituting rites and ceremonies that go well beyond anything in any of our Synodical Agenda and Hymnals.
Parish C had over 700 members, but now, ten years later or so, it is down to under 300 on the rolls, and only over 100 in Divine Service on average. Its pastor routinely castigates everyone and anyone, including his own congregants, in public blog posts, about the use of individual cups, among many other things.

Parish D has over 1,100 members, but now is down to around 650, with only about 280 attending Divine Service, but they comfort themselves in knowing they are using the “right hymnal” and doing things “just so.”
I see a pattern of zeal for instituting every conceivable rite and ceremony, but at the same time what appears to be an unequal concern for feeding and leading the sheep.
Are these men “bad pastors”? OF COURSE NOT.
But can we possibly consider that there are better ways to skin a cat when it comes to these issues? Are we willing to lovingly put aside our pet theories, passions and interests in matters liturgical and “use the book”? I know, I sound like a broken record.
And could we, just possibly, be willing to forego some finer nuance of liturgical accoutrement for the sake of putting just a bit more time into calling on members, evangelism, outreach, wearing out some shoe leather visiting homes and so forth?
What I notice that is particularly troubling is that there appears to be more of a bludgeoning the sheep into submission to the pastor's will in regard to matters liturgical among some of us.

It seems clear to me that #1 has been more of a concern than #2, sadly, in too many cases.

I see no difference in such situations between the men who make it a large priority to institute rites and ceremonies that the congregation has not been adequately taught, or even want, on the "high side" of the equation and those who come in and ditch things on the low-side.

The attitude appears to be the same: "My way, or the highway."

We've even had examples of pastors who should know better counseling aspiring pastors to "just go ahead and do it" even resorting to manipulative and deceptive rhetorical games to deflect criticism.
This is not good or helpful.

William Weedon said...


I think we should be cautious about drawing conclusions without all the facts in front of us regarding said parishes (I assume you were not offering hypotheticals?). There may well have been other factors at play in each situation - things in the church (as in the world) tend to be rather messy and assigning a straight line of cause and effect rarely deals with the total picture.

For myself, I'll say that with Fr. May I do not see the two as antithetical or even that one is given a higher priority than the other.

The question that floats around in the background is that of authority. Where is the authority for the determining of what ceremonies are to be used? Certainly AC XXVIII:53 provides a clear answer with certain careful parameters. FC X:9 is often misunderstood to read that the locus of authority for "changing, decreasing, or increasing" ceremonies is in the local congregation - but you know that this refers rather to the territorial church (and since we haven't one of those, it requires some reinterpretation in our context). I'd argue that FC X applies closest to our Synod since it was referring to areas governed by a given Church Order.

Thus, I happen to have great sympathy with the argument that we should use the rite as we have it in our books. I also believe that Dr. Piepkorn was quite right when he observed that "freedom responsibly exercised is itself a catholic principle." So, elevation or not? Let it be free. Bells or not? Let it be free. Alb alone or with chasuble? Let it be free. In the hand or the mouth? Let it be free. But the use of one of our liturgies? Let it be standard among us. If you will, in the spirit of FC X, we have a received liturgy (though in multiple books: TLH, LW, LSB, Hymnal Supplement, Worship Supplement); in the spirit of AC XXVIII we have a variety of use of humanly instituted ceremonies that accompany said liturgy.

mlorfeld said...

There has been much good offered (some that has caused a decent amount of reflection on my part, none of which I'd consider sniping).

I'll offer an example from my own brief experience (or, how I have learned from my mistakes and why I have a gracious congregation).

I am a pastor of a small mission congregation that meets in a band room at the local high school. This presents its own unique challenges, that frankly you only can stumble through.

Each week we have to set up seats, etc. When I arrived, I had already visited the congregation a few times. In talking to the congregation some mentioned how they had a hard time hearing each other. So I floated the idea, why don't we sit in a "half circle" (really 4 sections that looked more box like). I thought, this would help our singing and also put Word and Sacrament in a physically central location. This turned out to be difficult in "choreographing" the ushering of tables for communion. Fortunately, as I said, I have a gracious congregation, and the wife of my head elder asked, why don't we have the two columns of the rows of chairs just angled at each other? It was a great idea, we went with it and it worked well. Communion ushering is back to normal, yet we hear each other a bit better and can have the altar and "pulpit" (aka the director's music stand with paraments clipped on to it) closer in proximity to the people.

My other (well one of many) new pastor misstep came was when it came to the distribution of the Lord's Supper. Previously the elders led with our Lord's Body. I thought (silly me thinking again) that since we are so few in numbers, I could just distribute both the Body and Blood. What I didn't realize (even though I had asked and received a "that's fine, I guess" response) was that this was a big slap in the face to my elders. This essentially is their only duty, and a duty which they appreciated. We've now reversed the order where I distribute the Lord's Body as well as the chalice and they the individual cups. It seems to be working, and they also have agreed that I should go first as it is my duty to be the steward of who receives communion.

So two examples of that interplay of #1 and #2... both of how I have had a misstep and acted too soon, but also how even in my misstep, I have found an opportunity to teach why I stepped too quickly and found a congregation willing to let me take a half step back. Do I regret either choice I made? Not really. I'm sure there will be more times where I try to move too quickly on something (and most of these aren't correcting blatant heresy, but doing things better) where the congregation isn't ready to move. That's ok. Then it's time to teach, say "sorry" for jumping the gun, and most importantly listen to where everyone is coming from (heck, some times the pastor isn't always right... like my seating arrangement example). And there may well be times where we've been discussing something in Bible study, or from the sermons where the congregation sees a change that should be made (for the right reason) and asks for it. Either way, we're thinking about what we do and why we do it.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Rev. McCain. . . please do note that this is to be a civil debate where one's own thoughts are given. . . not a time for sniping.

Also, gents -- please say your peace and then let other folks read and consider.