During the 1995-96 academic year, the following theses on worship were prepared by faculty and Board of Regents representatives of Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon, Wis., and later adopted by the board. These theses were developed to give direction to the worship life of the campus. The clarity of expression and the practicality of the theses suggest that they might be useful reminders for our context here at First Trinity, as well.
Thesis 1: WE CONFESS that worship (Gottesdienst – German) is our triune God’s service to us (thus, “Divine Service”), and our faithful responses always direct us back to God from whom all blessings flow. WE DENY that worship is primarily a human activity, which is constituted by contrived efforts at emotion-centered adoration and praise.
Thesis 2: WE CONFESS that worship flows from the Gospel. At the heart and center of all worship is Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice for sin. In worship, the living and saving Lord comes to give us forgiveness of sin, life, and salvation. WE DENY that worship is based on the Law, namely, that our feelings or gifts supplement the work of Christ, thus marking it is as somehow incomplete or insufficient.
Thesis 3: WE CONFESS that in the liturgy God’s Word and sacraments are proclaimed and administered. Through these means, God dispenses forgiveness, life, and salvation. WE DENY that the liturgy is a mere form to produce the desired responses in worshipers.
Thesis 4: WE CONFESS that the purpose of music in the church is to bear and proclaim the living voice of the Gospel. WE DENY that music is present for purely aesthetic reasons or for the satisfaction of the personal tastes of worshipers or worship leaders.
Thesis 5: WE CONFESS that worship is catholic (that is, universal, of the whole). The gathering of God’s people around Word and Sacrament reaches across cultural, social, economic, racial, national, ethnic, chronological, and all other real or imagined barriers to transcend both time and space. WE DENY that worship is defined by the tastes and preferences of an individual or group of worshipers.
Thesis 6: WE CONFESS that the environment of worship should be theologically sound, aesthetically pleasing, and spiritually edifying. WE DENY that art and architecture are neutral factors in a setting for worship.
Adapted from LCMS Reporter Insert–April 2000; for further commentary on these theses go to The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.