This post is part of an ongoing blog series on Pomomusings entitled “(Re)Imagining Christianity.” To read about the series, as well as get a full schedule of participants, click here.
What is one belief, practice or element of Christianity that must die so that Christianity can move forward and truly impact the world in the next 100 years?
What is one belief, practice or element of Christianity that we must hold onto and live out more fully so that Christianity can move forward and truly impact the world in the next 100 years?
I’m going to keep this brief: I think that we should stop having spoken prayers in worship services.
I was reared in a church that had a long, flowery “pastoral prayer” every Sunday morning. It was written out by the pastor, and delivered with an odd incantation that I always thought was rather affected. Now that I’ve been in church leadership, I know that these pastoral prayers are very often another way to preach to the congregation, only under the auspices of a prayer to God.
These days, it’s even more common for pastors to pray extemporaneously. These are bad, and it’s even worse when the song leaders pray. Too often, these spontaneous prayers to “Father Weejus” are assaults on both the English language and on Christian theology.
In the Sermon on the Plain in Luke, Jesus said,
When you pray, don’t be like those show-offs who love to stand up and pray in the meeting places and on the street corners. They do this just to look good. I can assure you that they already have their reward. When you pray, go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private, and he will reward you.When you pray, don’t talk on and on as people do who don’t know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers. Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask.
So, stop praying aloud in worship.
And the one practice I’d like to see the church hold on to for the coming century is this: Periods of reflective silence in worship.
Oh, wait, we don’t have those, do we?
Tony Jones: Tony is the author of The Church Is Flat: The Relational Ecclesiology of the Emerging Church Movement and is theologian-in-residence at Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis and an adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and at Andover Newton Theological School. Tony is the author of many books on Christian ministry and spirituality, including The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent Frontier and The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life, and, coming this week, A Better Atonement: Beyond the Depraved Doctrine of Original Sin..