by Timo Matero, Elder at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of Warsaw
We as confessional Lutherans understand contemporary worship rightly. It is an infection. A flu bug foreign to our church body. The churches (yes even some weakened Lutheran churches) where this virus has infected are failing to understand the full ramifications of the danger this virus brings.
This seemingly harmless strain started in the worship halls of non-Lutherans who do not adhere to our confessions, theology, and doctrine. They do not believe as we confessional Lutherans do, and are blinded by their own sense of self-importance and a low esteem for the sacraments and the very God who instituted them. These new churches, adrift without theological or doctrinal anchors of truth became infatuated with church growth. And to spur growth, they gave the people what people love the most. Themselves.
Thus was born, a contemporary service where it all focuses on YOU! Your feelings. Your emotions. Your life. Your money. Your time. Your love. How much you love Jesus. How much you love each each other. You. You. You.
The contemporary service is not Christ-centered. The means of Grace are ignored completely or downplayed to an intermission for coffee and cookies from Starbookies.
Contemporary worship symptoms include; man attempting to serve God with popular music, swaying arms, and emotions just like a concert or a pep rally. The symptoms illicit strange responses like a walk down the aisle to show you’ve “made your decision” to follow Christ. A weeping of joy. A tingle down the spine. Everyone feels great, they are high on church! But yet, the infection grows.
The virus once released spreads into the masses like wildfire, consuming and catching souls until a super-church with high attendance appears. And the more entertainment the infected church provides, the more people become desensitized to it and demand even flashier shows to excite. The need to experience more, get more, and do more never ends. Service after service they hear the music, feel the sounds, watch a cool guy or gal deliver a motivational speech that’s all about them.
But the emotional high can only last so long. Enthusiasm that is created by man will fade. The people are left deflated, confused and empty. Wasn’t this the path to God? A church we created for us, by us? Filled with the music we like? A pastor/teacher/guru we employ for us, telling us what we want to hear? It was great… for a while. But I’m bored. Church isn’t for me, I’m over it. I’ll just do small groups now. Spiritual, not religious. That sounds cool. Wait! Maybe those Buddhists are on to something…. The virus has done its work. Another lost soul.
As Warsaw’s confessional Lutheran church we cannot accept nor approve of the practices of the contemporary worshipers who have a completely different theology and doctrinal belief than ours without harming our faith, confession, and the souls of our congregants.
Our Divine Service stands apart from the world, because it is not of this world. Just as we confessional Lutherans are called not to be a part of this world. Thus we remain immune from the contemporary worship virus.
And if your church (especially LC-MS Lutheran ones) are infected with this virus, there is a cure. Weekly doses of the traditional Lutheran Divine Service with full on liturgy.
If you are an individual sick with, or of, contemporary worship, the hospital of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church of Warsaw is open for new patients.