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Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down: A Theology of Worship for This Urgent Time

Dawn, Marva J.

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Publisher Review:

Foreword by Martin E. Marty

Why do churches fight “Worship Wars?” Why do discussions about how to conduct worship often split into two vitriolic polarities over “traditional” versus “contemporary” styles or into two opposing camps, such as organists/ guitarists, baby boomers/elders, returnees/loyalists or clergy/musicians? These “worship wars” prevent us from being the Church.

In Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down, Marva Dawn writes to help local parishes and denominations think more thoroughly about worship and culture so that they can function effectively in contemporary society. She roots her discussion of worship issues in a careful assessment of significant aspects of the present technological, boomer, post-modern society and names criteria by which to judge the various cultural influences. She then sketches essential attributes of worship. Dawn recognizes that the vitality and faithfulness of our personal and corporate Christian lives and the effectiveness of our outreach to the world depend on the character that is formed in individuals and communities.

How can churches best reach out to society without “dumbing down” this essential character formation? Dawn discusses music, preaching, and all the accouterments of worship and offers practical suggestions for choosing the best tools and forms to deepen worship life, nurture faith development, and increase believers’ outreach throughout the universal church and to the world.

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