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Old Paths and New Ways

Negotiating Tradition and Relevance in Liturgy

Series:

Robert Lilleaasen

The relationship between tradition and relevance is a core feature in religious practice in general and public worship in particular. On the one hand, worship is a bearer of religious traditions, i.e. traditions are maintained in the practice of public worship, and the worship enables individuals to connect with these traditions. On the other hand, it is a quest for relevance in public worship. In order to maintain existing worshippers and attract new participants, congregations have to consider their ability to connect their core values to the needs and expectations of existing and potential participants. This dual purpose of the worship causes a need for negotiation, and it is this negotiation between tradition and relevance that this book investigates. Old Paths and New Ways is a case study of the negotiation between tradition and the quest for relevance in liturgy.

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Chapter Eleven: Summary of Main Findings

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CHAPTER  ELEVEN

Summary of Main Findings

 

The purpose of my study was to investigate the worship practice of two local assemblies with an evangelical ideal; the research has a particular focus on the relationship between tradition and relevance. As such, it is a study on how worship is practiced in the negotiation between tradition and the quest for relevance. Both cases in the study are Lutheran and evangelical, but differ in terms of worship tradition. Revetal Menighet originates from a church worship tradition, whereas Misjonssalen Aalesund originates from the prayer-house worship tradition. At the time of my fieldwork the two cases largely resembled each other in their worship practice. This development motivated me to hypothesize that the worship practices in Revetal Menighet and Misjonssalen Aalesund are subject to equalizing forces. That is, in the negotiation between the different worship traditions from which the two cases originate and their quest for relevance, the worship practice in Misjonssalen Aalesund and Revetal Menighet are becoming more similar.

The decision to focus the investigation on the main worship was based on the past and present importance of the congregational gathering. As suggested above it is in the main worship that the development is the most conspicuous. Moreover, the worship gatherings have been the primary medium through which this particular expression of evangelicalism’s essential ecclesial features have been expressed and spread.1 The main worship is both where the essential ecclesial features are expressed,...

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