Having written in every issue of Worship Leader magazine while he was alive, Robert Webber was instrumental in the fabric of our outlook. But more than that, Dr. Webber was part of the planning, dreaming, and organization of the magazine and in many ways the beginnings of our National Worship Leader Conference. Recently, we came across a notebook from a conference designed by Webber and our publisher Chuck Fromm (while Chuck was at Maranatha! Music). The entire notebook is fascinating to read, partly to see how the challenges in 1988 are still very real today. I decided to pull out a little of it and share it here. I though it was particularly interesting because we are planning some of the liturgical directions for the National Worship Leader Conference in 2016, and this forebear of the NWLC was put right in our hands. We are hoping we can stay true to this powerful original directive of our ministry and mission. I have posted the pictures of the pages here, but I also typed out the bulk of the article in case it is difficult to read or to pass along to others. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. –Jeremy Armstrong
Worship … The Celebration! A Confluence of Traditions in a Service of Worship
Order of Worship
Coming into the presence of God
Hearing the Story
Feasting at the Table with Christ
Sent Forth to Serve
Explanation of the Understanding of Worship in the Coming Together Model:
Those who study the history of Christian worship tell us that worship has always and everywhere been lifted to God through four basic movements. Briefly they are: coming into the presence of God, hearing the story of God’s redemptive love, entering into intimate relationship with Christ at the Table, and finally, being sent forth to serve God in the world through a life of commitment and witness shaped by the experience of worship.
It is universally agreed among Christians that the focal point of worship is The Celebration of God’s Saving Work for us in Jesus Christ. We do not come to worship to celebrate our experience, but to celebrate what God has done. In worship we recite, sing, and give thanks to God because God as acted for us in a decisive and gracious manner in Jesus. He has overthrown the powers of evil, tread down the devil and burst open the gates of hell. This victory of Christ over the powers of evil is a power that is communicated to us and in us as we celebrate the dethronement of evil and exaltation of Jesus as Lord. Consequently, in worship, there is always a divine action. Jesus is “in the midst,” extending to us the benefits of his victory over sin, restoring us and renewing us after his own image. This change does not happen ipso facto, we are called to respond to God in worship. We are to be open to God, we listen to his Word, and respond with praise and thanksgiving.
Here then is the meaning of worship. In worship, we celebrate God’s great act of salvation. In this celebration, the benefit of God’s saving deed is once again affirmed as we respond in mind, heart, and spirit. Through this experience, our values and our person are shaped into the image of Christ. In sum, worship is storytelling and feasting.
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Dr. Robert E. Webber founded the Institute for Worship Studies in 1998 and was its first president. He died on April 27, 2007, at his home in Michigan. In January 2007, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to change the name of IWS to the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies in honor of the vision, accomplishments and contributions of Bob Webber. Dr. Webber was born in Congo of missionary parents and was raised in the Philadelphia area. He earned a Th.D. from Concordia Theological Seminary. From 1968 to 2000 he served as a Professor of Theology at Wheaton College and was named Professor Emeritus upon his retirement in 2000. He was appointed William R. and Geraldine D. Myers Professor of Ministry and Director of the M.A. in Worship and Spirituality at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in the fall of 2000.