Worship that Attracts Young People

Lutheran author [Gene Edward Veith][veithblog] highlights [an article from the Washington Post][wp], noting that many young people have embraced the Latin mass (that is, the centuries-old order of worship conducted in Latin), now that the Pope has authorized its use in a wider context. While we don’t use the Divine Service in Latin, what we use is basically the same service as the Latin Mass. In fact, we still use the Latin/Greek names of many parts of the Divine Service (*Kyrie Eleison*, *Gloria in Excelsis*, etc.), as well as the Sundays of the church year. In recent years, many churches have been tempted to abandon the traditional heritage of the Divine Service, with the notion that young people would prefer worship that resembles their popular entertainment. That includes projected still or motion pictures, soft rock or jazz music, and (most tragically) the replacement of teaching that sometimes causes discomfort with messages that come across as “more practical.” For example, “God’s principles for getting out of debt and staying that way.” (I have no problem with God’s principles concerning debt, as long as they really are what the title claims. I would only object to placing this kind of teaching in the Divine Service, where God comes to us for the purpose of giving eternal life, and we respond appropriately.)

[veithblog]: http://www.geneveith.com/?p=84

[wp]: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/23/AR2007112301549.html

> Attendance at the Sunday noon Mass at St. John the Beloved in McLean has doubled to 400 people since it began celebrating in Latin. Most of the worshipers are under 40, said the Rev. Franklyn McAfee. > > Younger parishioners “are more reflective,” McAfee said. “They want something uplifting when they go to church. They don’t want something they can get outside.”

Some voices in recent years have also criticized the order of worship, hymns, etc. that we use, saying they are not uplifting enough. I would understand this criticism if I found that our worship did not teach the Gospel of forgiveness in Christ, but it does. So I can only imagine that such critics are looking for a different message. Reading the quote that Veith pulls from the Washington Post, I find it interesting that some of the young people who now prefer the Latin mass consider it to be *more* uplifting. Unfortunately, the distinctive teachings of the Roman Catholic Church also replace the Gospel with a message that has no power to save. Those teachings lead the hearers to rely upon their own merits in addition to God’s grace, and this effectively makes salvation uncertain — even impossible. However, most Roman Catholic errors arose in the Middle Ages, and the Latin mass was already written by that time. So if the young people flocking to the Latin mass pay close attention to the words of the Divine Service, then they will certainly be uplifted by the Gospel.

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About Jesse Jacobsen

Pastor Jacobsen moved with his family to the Columbia Gorge in January, 2006. He has been a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod since 1998. He resides in The Dalles, serving Bethany Lutheran Church, Concordia Lutheran Church, and Columbia Lutheran School.

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