Q & R from Sweden: Isn’t there any place for an orderly service?

Here’s the Q:

I have read your book “A generous orthodoxy” in swedish translation, 2 times. I am thrilled, and I really like your writings, and your way of neutralizing negative statements about “the others” by mentioning parallel phenomena within the christian world.
I guess one of the things about the emergent church is that we really do not know how it is going to develop. Looking at some video clips about some of the groups now operating does not help, and in fact, I would feel very uncomfortable sitting in a sofa just asking questions in a never ending discussion. Isn`t there any place for an orderly service??? Not everybody is a postmodern “non-committer” who enjoys questioning everything. Furthermore, I do not think that we have to invent more and more userfriendly things. Sooner or later our inventiveness ends.

Reply after the jump …

R: Great question! I’m so glad that several of my books are available in a growing number of languages, and I have great memories of my visit to Sweden several years back. I don’t think my book “Finding Our Way Again” is in Swedish (not yet, anyway), but that’s the book where I touch on this issue. Someday I’d like to write in more depth on the issue of liturgy – “orderly service.”
Bottom line: I agree with you. Every group develops a liturgy. Some are written; some are unwritten. Sometimes the unwritten ones are harder to change than the written ones! The question is what are we trying to achieve through our liturgy? What “group spiritual practices” are we trying to employ when we gather, and why? How can we best use our limited time? What message are we bonding to? What values? What attitudes and vision? What resources from the past can we celebrate? What new resources should we use? What desires are we trying to strengthen? What spiritual malformations are we trying to remedy or avoid?
There are two areas (among others) I think we need to focus huge amounts of attention to.
1. The renewal of liturgy – with emphasis on a missional theology and spiritual formation.
2. The spiritual formation of kids and young adults. (See my recent blog on this subject.)
Thanks for bringing attention to one of them!