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  • Phone: (615) 373-1782
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  • Mailing Address: 409 Franklin Road, Brentwood, TN 37027

 

 

Worship Vision

A Vision for Worship at Otter Creek


Summary

  • Worship involves an encounter with our Creator and Savior in all of life.
  • Otter Creek has a rich worship heritage, especially musical expressions of worship.
  • Otter Creek will remain committed to providing acapella assemblies on Sunday morning.
  • The Otter Creek elders will continue to embrace both acapella and instrumental as acceptable expressions of worship.
  • The elders will explore the addition of an instrumental service as a Sunday morning assembly option.

Vision

Otter Creek Church places a high value on the worship experience, enjoying great freedoms in exploring the nature and expressions of worship, and providing pioneering leadership in this arena for our fellowship, the Churches of Christ. Buddy Arnold’s long tenure as our worship leader provided a strong basis and hunger for meaningful, compelling worship. Though very different in style, Brandon Thomas’s leadership built on that hunger, continued that emphasis, and encouraged us to express an ancient faith in new, more contemporary ways. Murray Sanderson followed Brandon, teaching and embodying the idea that worship is a 24-7 experience; all of life is worship.

What now. It is our goal to build on past and present strengths and develop deeper understandings and experiences of worship for the future. What would this look like? We believe the following ten values are important to our vision for worship in the future:

  1. Worship is an experience of God. Authentic worship is not just an activity; it is encounter. It is first and always an experience of the presence of God. This can happen in assembled worship when we sing and pray and study Scripture. It can also happen in quieter, more private ways: a sunrise, an experience of grace, an act of mercy, a group of godly friends. Whatever else worship may be, whatever setting it is in, it must lead to and flow from engaging with our Creator and Savior.
  2. Worship is Trinitarian. We experience God best when we experience him in three persons: Father, Son, and Spirit. Worship, therefore, engages us with Yahweh, Jesus, and the Comforter … the God above us, the God with us, and the God in us.
  3. Worship reaches up, out, and in. We continue to affirm the truth that authentic worship is vertical (confessing our relationship with God), horizontal (celebrating our relationships with each other), and personal (admitting who we are and what God has done in us). We do not want to be so reverential that there is no room for the relational. We do not want to be so relational that there is no room for reflection and introspection. We do not want to be so introspective that we lose sight of the One who should be our focus.
  4. Worship is memorable and moving. We recognize that “worship” has power. It convicts and cures and changes us. God is doing something, through his Spirit, when we worship. The result is humbling, redemptive, incarnational, and life-altering. We should expect worship to transform us. In fact, an important measure of the effectiveness of worship is whether it leaves its mark on the worshipper.
  5. Worship is a 24/7 endeavor. We believe it is wise to move away from an understanding of worship that is rooted primarily in what happens on Sunday mornings and towards an understanding of worship that involves “all of life.” Assembled worship is a culmination of our weekly walk with God, not a substitution for it. We will continue to emphasize the importance of public worship while also exploring a more personal, intimate dimension to worship: in life groups, families, and the prayer closet. Fostering a worshipful attitude at home and work, with friends and family, is as holy an endeavor as creating worshipful assemblies and service. This posture also prepares us to meet God in the midst of creation.
  6. Worship is an exercise in excellence. When we come before the Lord, we should bring our best sacrifice, an offering without defect or blemish (Lev 22:21). By God’s grace, this does not mean we offer up sinless lives. Far from it. But we do offer up something authentic, genuine, and deeply honest. In smaller settings or in private, this commitment to “excellence” will express in characteristics such as thoughtfulness, confession, humility, the pursuit of holiness, love, and relevance. In assembled worship, “excellence” will express itself (additionally) in leaders that are gifted, careful planning and creativity, an expectation that the assembly will be engaged, and an encouragement of our best efforts. 
  7. Worship is participation. While we appreciate the need for “excellence” in drawing people into assembled worship, we believe worship calls us to participation rather than observation. Our emphasis needs to be on the involvement of the many rather than the performance of the few. Each worshipper must bring an open heart and mind rather than merely forming part of an audience. In this way, we are equipped for worship when worship leaders and praise teams are not present—worship in our families and at the work place and in the wilderness places of life.
  8. Worship is multi-dimensional. Our explorations of worship should lead us to a holistic experience … not only a worship that involves “all of life” but one that engages “all of me.” If worship is more than “acts,” it is also more than “facts” or “feelings.” True worship expresses love to God with heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mk 12:30). We will pursue worship that is emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically engaging. We should expect to be moved, awed, convicted, humbled, instructed, encouraged, and bowed down in worship. 
  9. Worship uses many forms of expression. That is to say, all worship is experiential. We desire a broader worship “vocabulary.” While grateful for praise and celebration, we long to worship in different seasons of life (e.g., doubt and darkness), using different expressions (e.g., lament and reconciliation), that require a greater variety of worship forms (e.g., drama, testimony, silence, or extended prayer). This also means worship is multi-sensory (lighting, volume, images, silence, diverse participants) in nature. 
  10. Worship is a reflection of spiritual maturity. It takes different forms at different stages of growth. Personal devotion, selfless service, loving relationships, and transformed living are, perhaps, the most mature expressions of worship (Ro 12:1-2). Exciting assemblies, engaging music, motivating messages, and warm fellowship are modes of worship that all Christians should grow from and appreciate (Acts 2:42-47). The mature value the sanctuary for the opportunity it affords to encourage and inspire others. The entire church family understands that faith is not confined to the sanctuary but must express itself in all-of-life. Since this church family values all of its members, whatever their level of maturity, we value all forms of worship and commit ourselves to promoting worship at every stage of spiritual growth.

So, what are the specific implications of these ten values for Otter Creek’s Sunday morning assemblies in the near term?

  • Otter Creek assemblies will be known for love and joy, and all those assembled will have the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of and experience with Jesus. In fact, it will not be uncommon to hear people describe their experience as a deep encounter with Jesus.
  • The assemblies will be characterized by excellence, not because we seek praise for performance but because we recognize we are in the presence of our Creator. Along with our professional ministers, elders and members will lead the assemblies. What will be most noticeable, however, is the deep and active involvement of the congregation.
  • The expressions of worship will be many, including of course music, prayer, teaching, communion and giving; art and drama may be used to communicate or reinforce the expression of worship. Technology will facilitate the experience.
  • Acappella and instrumental expressions of worship will continue to be a part of Sunday morning assemblies, STIR, Vespers, camp, Sunday evening assemblies including the WELL_House, and in the youth and children’s ministries, among others. We will continue to recognize that different types of music are appropriate for different worship experiences. 

And what are the implications in the longer term, particularly in regards to music?

  • Otter Creek will remain committed to providing acapella assemblies on Sunday morning.
  • The Otter Creek elders will continue to embrace both acapella and instrumental as acceptable expressions of worship.
  • The addition of a Sunday morning instrumental service will begin Fall 2015.
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