Becoming A Liturgical Lutheran; Exploring the Journey of American Evangelicals into Confessional Lutheran Liturgy

I grew up attending a low-church pietistic Lutheran congregation. The worship services at this church were modeled after the old revival services of the nineteenth-century and it wasn’t uncommon to have altar calls every month where the same people would go forward for fervent rededication of their lives. Most of the music in the worship service came out of the Revivalist Movement too and focused on mankind’s commitment to God. Lyrics like, “Trust and obey for there is no other way!” and “I have decided to follow Jesus!” were very common. Along with the revival songs, I was also exposed to music that came forth from Calvary Chapel’s Maranatha Music movement (i.e., praise and worship songs). 

In my college years of working at an Evangelical Christian bookstore I began listening to Christian rock worship music. This Christian rock worship music had a little more of an edge than the revival music, yet it tried to embrace an essence of a worshipful flavor. I not only knew the top 10 chart of the newest Christian music, but I proudly sold it as well. Furthermore, through music festivals like the Son-Shine Music Festival, I worshipped with 15,000 other people to the beats of Audio Adrenaline, Jars of Clay, and Michael W. Smith. 

My first call out of seminary placed me in Southern California where I served in a church that had a professional praise and worship band. The music at this church certainly didn’t have the revivalistic feel that I was used to, yet it was a little tamer than the rock concerts that I had come to embrace. 

Looking back at my worship experiences, the range of worship that I participated in varied from the revival songs played on the organ, Christian rock on the electric guitar, and Maranatha music played on the synthesized electric piano. However, nothing prepared me for the jolt that I experienced as I began to encounter the Liturgical Worship of the Confessional Lutheran Church. Frankly, everything was different and backwards to me. Some of the language of the Lutheran liturgy was in Latin and Greek. There was a strong emphasis on the sacraments. The organ was in the back of the sanctuary. Finally, the main focus of the divine service was all about God giving me gifts, not me giving my best to God. 

As I have been brought along in this journey into Confessional Lutheranism and its liturgy, I have come to realize that I am not the only one who is on this journey. This has prompted me to study the journey from American Evangelicalism into Confessional Lutheran thought. Over the last year I have been studying this journey as a part of my major applied research project at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. The parameters of my research project are only focusing on what is going on in the realms of epistemology, worldview, linguistics, and emotions; it is not focusing on the liturgy. The decision not to focus on the liturgy was due to the general case that a journeying Evangelical will not fully encounter the Lutheran liturgy until ‘after’ they make the jump into Lutheranism (i.e., become a member and start regular attendance in a liturgical church). Thus, this ‘Becoming a Liturgical Lutheran Research Study’, in the pages to follow, can be thought of as a follow-up to my major applied research project, a ‘rest of the story’ if you will. 

Enjoy the comprehensive 'Becoming A Liturgical Lutheran; Exploring the Journey of American Evangelicals  into Confessional Lutheran Liturgy' document/paper by CLICKING HERE.  This paper not only covers the research results from the 'Becoming A Liturgical Lutheran Research Study,' but also provides helpful insights to those on the journey into the Lutheran liturgy.  

Grace and Peace

A special thank you to Rev. Dr. Kent J. Burreson for his oversight of this study at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

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