Having had the opportunity to be on the campus of Harding University recently, we wandered through the American Heritage Building.  In the hallway that funnels visitors in from Market Street, some pictures display life at Harding through the decades.  The pictures are great!  Who wouldn’t  want to go to Harding if life is like that?

Among the shots are a few from more distant past, including this one:


This is what it looked like back in the late 40s and 50s when college students at Harding worshipped together in “chapel.”  The leader happens to be my granddaddy, who influenced a lot of people in ways of worship in those days.  Look at the eyes of the people.  If you scanned closely enough, you might detect that a few were looking at the photographer and trying to appear more engaged than they were, but by and large, they are participating, being led, worshipping. . . .

When was the last time you knew of that much engagement and involvement in a single church assembly where you are?

The contemporary church creates spectators, and the traditional liturgical churches, bystanders.

– John Throop, The Clergy Journal, 1996

Nevermind, for the moment, that the above scene doesn’t neatly fit in either of Stroop’s categories.  The generalities stand:  we see an awful lot of un-involved gazing and gawking in contemporary churches; and in most “high church” groups, a different type kind of un-involvement.

You can say it’s the responsibility of the individual to “give,” to “be involved,” to worship . . . no matter what.  And you’ll be right.

You can also say it’s the responsibility of the church leaders to make the assemblies more like the one above.  And you’ll still be right.

4 thoughts on “Involvement

  1. sally913 01/29/2014 / 12:37 pm

    Oh, what memories the picture brings to me! I think it was taken a little bit before my time (1954-58), since I went to chapel in the Admin building (it was brand new at the time!). My best memories of Harding are with Andy T. Ritchie!!! He was my freshman Bible teacher; after that experience, I took every class he offered, went on many campaigns with him, and got to know his family (dear friends of mine to this day). I think of Andy Ritchie, Harding College, and “My God and I” as synonyms. Just typing these words brings back a whole era to me.


    • Brian Casey 01/29/2014 / 3:42 pm

      You know, Sally, I thought of you when I wrote this, despite not having heard from you too recently. I almost sent you an e-mail to make sure you saw this post, and I’m so glad you saw it, and that it brought back good memories!

      I wish I could say I had seen anything like that from the leader’s vantage point, since maybe a few camp experiences 15 years ago.


  2. Jason Ministries 01/29/2014 / 3:39 pm

    Individual and Corporate worship requires engagement. None can be passive and truly worship. Enjoyed your reflection on this issue. 🙂 Thanks for posting.


    • Brian Casey 01/29/2014 / 3:45 pm

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. It’s nice to know, every so often, that someone is “tracking” with me.

      The next post (Friday) affirms Darlene Zschech and deals a bit more verbosely with the congregational dynamic, by the way. It might not be down your alley quite so much, but if you have time to scan, I think you’ll also appreciate that one.


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