Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down

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In an age when culture continues to lower standards of intellect, Marva Dawn makes compelling observations and suggestions for the Church to rethink its’ strategy on impacting society. How do we evangelize without weakening the message of what we are communicating? The majority of her text focuses on the worship environment generally, but later she focuses on music, preaching, and liturgy specifically. According to Dawn, a gathering of believers should emphasize God as the subject and object of worship, challenge each individual to grow in godly character, and accentuate the community of believers (not only in the room, but throughout history as well). Through this grid, she encourages leaders and participants to evaluate each worship element. If these primary goals are accomplished, then worship will not be empty and simpleminded. Instead the worship atmosphere would be held to a higher standard and, she believes, both pleasing to God and attractive to those who do not know God. “Reaching Out without Dumbing Down” seems to be constructed for the church leader, elder, or pastor who is considering altering their current, historic worship style for a more modern one that may attract greater numbers of unsaved people. She provides excellent standards to help Pastors and Worship Leaders plan, execute, and evaluate worship services. These same standards provide a great opportunity to educate the church family on the reasons behind the use of certain worship elements. Although written for church leadership, the everyday church member would also benefit from understanding the very concepts that Dawn is directing at God-empowered leaders. Predominantly scholarly, Ms. Dawn cites several other works at great length, but she... ... middle of paper ... ...agreed with, some that frustrated, and some that embarrassed me when my personal preferences defied logic or biblical mandate. I would recommend this reading to any who impact church worship (employee or volunteer). Not as a firm guide, but as thought-provoking advice on how corporate worship can impact an ever-changing culture. I think any worship leader would be impacted by Dawn’s questions: • Is God the subject of your corporate worship? • Does your worship build the Christian character of the individual and invite them into the community of Christianity? • Are you dumbing down your content in order to reach out? • How will you reach out in the midst of a market-driven, television age? All of these questions must be pondered and discussed by those who lead, knowing they will be held accountable for their answers and actions at the end of the age.
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