I just returned home from a wonderful time at the Wild Pear gathering of artists in Franklin, TN. While there I had the privilege of sharing a few of my reflections--a Wild Pear Bite--on "Why Ancient Future Worship Is Necessary." Of course I felt as though I was merely a vessel through which Bob Webber himself spoke to the group of thirty-five or so passionate artists and worship thinkers. I can only hope I did him justice. If I sounded like a heretic, then I succeeded.
Briefly, Ancient Future Worship (AFW) is proclaiming, enacting, and singing God's story. We find ourselves in God's cosmic narrative--creation, incarnation, re-creation. AFW centers us in the truth of Gods Story, a Person who descends to us, not an idea to which we ascend. AFW centers us in the present time, calling us into a participation NOW in the past death and resurrection of Christ, and calling us into a participation NOW in the future restoration of all things in Christ. AFW trains us in real life rhythms, spiritually transforming us right where we are, and ushering us into an everyday lifestyle of God-worship.
I could write a book fleshing out the above paragraph (or you can read anything Bob Webber wrote throughout his career, especially his five-book Ancient Future series), but instead I'd like to share something that the Holy Spirit orchestrated quite beautifully during the weeks leading up to Wild Pear and during the minutes leading up to my talk. Here are the D's of Ancient Future Worship--a list of words that describe some of my own struggles in leading this kind of worship. Ancient Future Worship is:
- disciple-oriented, not seeker-oriented
- dynamic, not static
- directed, not produced or programmed
- different (radically), not like this world
- demanding, not supplying
- dialogical, not a one-sided conversation
- dirty, not pristine
- declarative, not explicative
- daily, not once-a-week
- denial of self, not self-help
- deep, not superficial
- dinner-centered, not sermon or song
- doxological, not self-serving
- devoted (single-heartedly), not double-minded
- disciplined, not effortless
- determined, not lazy or passive
- disruptive, not flawless
- discerning, not flaky
- difficult, not cozy and comfortable
- down-to-earth, not abstract
- discussion, not study
- deliberate, not trendy
- desired, not obligated
- dangerous, not "safe for the whole family"
Worship is a messy thing. Anytime people work together, which is the definition of worship (leitourgia), we can expect imperfection, conflict, and messiness. If none of this is present in our worship, we're probably doing something wrong. If we're trying super hard to avoid this in our worship, we might want to rethink what worship is for. We design our worship for disciples, which means we must design it for broken people who are serious about offering themselves to God. I believe Ancient Future Worship is necessary to lead us in this path of faithful worship.