Renewing the Church’s Worship

Doug Gay

This is the address given to the Annual Meeting of the Church Service Society in May 2019 by the Revd Dr Doug Gay, Principal of Trinity College, University of Glasgow.

Gay is addressing one of the four great challenges he had identified in a Chalmers Lecture as facing the current Kirk: liturgical renewal. After a resumé of worship since the Reformation, he finds three broad streams that have characterised worship since 1940: Church Service Society, Evangelical, middle-of-the-road. He identifies a number of challenges to the way we worship developing from the 1960s, and adds three modes of technological development. The remainder of his paper roundly challenges several aspects of the practice and the practioners of worship today: a deficit in understanding, an inability to praise convincingly, the absence of genuine feeling, the poverty of preaching, the lack of physical/spoken participation, the inhibitory nature of pews, the lack of appetite for Communion, a need to place baptism more at the centre, the need for better songs especially in the area of praise and worship song, the need to rediscover silence, the need for more genuine intercessory prayer, and the development of worship that is strong enough to change/convert those to whom church going is unfamiliar. He calls finally for better education and training, both for ministerial leadership and congregations.

Volume 54 2019, p1

Doug Gay is Principal of Trinity College, Glasgow, and a Senior Lecturer in Practical Theology at the University of Glasgow. Doug is an ordained minister in the Church of Scotland and worked as a Church of Scotland minister for two years, before spending six years working in Hackney, East London as a minister of the United Reformed Church. He has worked as a religious columnist for The Times and is also active as a hymnwriter and liturgist.