“Worship is the heart and pulse of the Christian Church. In worship we celebrate together God’s gracious gifts of creation and salvation, and are strengthened to live in response to God’s grace. Worship always involves actions, not merely words. To consider worship is to consider music, art, and architecture, as well as liturgy and preaching.” – Introduction to the Lutheran World Federation’s Nairobi Statement on Worship and Culture.
Worship is the most important activity for any Christian congregation, and indeed Good Shepherd is no exception. The congregation and staff place tremendous value on fostering vibrant, embodied, and inclusive worship each week. Worship here includes many elements – the reading of holy scripture, teaching and preaching, music and visual arts, water, bread and wine – all of which foster a profound sense of who we are as a people and who we are called to be in the world. All services of worship and other prayer gatherings at Good Shepherd, including weddings and funerals, are open to the public. All are welcome regardless of denomination, race, ethnicity, age, social status or sexual orientation.
Lutherans, like the majority of Christians worldwide, are what’s called a “liturgical tradition,” which means first and foremost that worship is something the entire congregation actively participates in. The primary “doers” of worship are the people of the congregation, who are called to worship with full heart and voice each time they gather. Some might think of our worship as something where the congregation is the creator of the content, not the consumer. Ordained pastors, working alongside lay ministers, lead the people in worship. Lutheran congregations who are part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are guided in worship by Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW). ELW is a group of books and other resources published beginning in 2006. Copies of the red “pew edition” are found in the pews at Good Shepherd. More information on ELW can be found here: http://www.augsburgfortress.org/worship/evangelicallutheranworship/default.jsp. Though ELW is the primary resource for worship at Good Shepherd, we frequently draw from other printed, online, and locally-created resources when planning worship.
Lutherans are a worldwide family of roughly 80 million Christians. The diversity of this family, spread across the globe, is astounding. Though any particular congregation must always be rooted in its local culture, it is important for congregations to recognize and celebrate the global diversity of the church. Therefore while most of the elements of worship and service at Good Shepherd are rooted in the historical Western European and American cultures, we make a conscious effort to include music, art, and other liturgical elements from cultures outside our own. We are also continually striving to recognize and adapt to the changing cultural norms here in our midst, so that we might strengthen our local ability to witness to the Kingdom of God.
There are many opportunities for those who are interested in serving as worship leaders at Good Shepherd. Each Sunday, lay leaders include an Assisting Minister, Communion Assistants, one of more Acolytes, a Crucifer, one or more Lector, Greeters, Ushers, and one or more Choirs, and the Altar Guild. There are also other opportunities for leadership throughout the week. If you are interested in serving as a worship leader, please contact the church office, [email protected] or 813-877-3105.