Worship is the key for everything we do at The Emmaus Abbey Church. Nothing we do is of more importance, and all that we do flows from our worship of Almighty God. It might even be said that all of our life and ministry is an expression and extension of our worship.
Our particular style of worship is rich in biblical and historical tradition. Reflecting the heritage of the convergence movement, of which we are part, our worship incorporates elements of the three streams of classical Christianity: evangelical, charismatic and sacramental.
From the evangelical tradition, we inherit a deep respect for the primacy of the Word of God. We read it. We believe it. In addition, we seek to bring all men into a personal, living, saving relationship with the risen Lord Jesus Christ (Ephes 2:8-10; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:3-4).
From the charismatic tradition, we inherit a deep longing for the move and ministry of the Holy Spirit. In addition to being open to the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit, such as healing, prophecy, words of knowledge, and the working of miracles (1 Corinthians 12:7-11), we embrace the various elements of worship often associated with Davidic worship found in the Psalms.
Thus, we make use of a variety of musical instruments (Psalm 150), singing (Ephesians 5:19), dancing (Psalm 28:2), clapping (Psalm 47:1) and the lifting up of hands (Psalm 134:2).
From the sacramental tradition, we inherit a deep love for the liturgy of the church. Not only does the formal order of worship create an atmosphere of reverence and respect, it enhances the sacredness of worship by providing a rich context of symbolism, for example, vestments (Exodus 28: 1-3), incense (Revelation 5:8) and candles (John 8:12).
–”And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Revelation 5:8
Definition: The convergence movement is a coming together of the three major apostolic and historic branches of the Church, Spirit, Word and Sacrament. Simply stated; “we are the Acts 1:1-8 Church.”
To converge, according to Webster, simply means to move towards one point, to come together or to meet. For far to long the church has been divided and separated from one another on all three points. To converge means to draw them together and empower the church.
As a pastor, I have been all over the world as a missionary. The spiritual landscape is changing. There are over 140 million unchurched people in America and rapidly declining. Further, a large group nominal Christians (those who claim to be Christians) are dropping out of church. Adrian Rogers said; I quote, “There are more baptized unbelievers sitting in the church today than ever before. This is why the church suffers from unbelief.” “For decades’ churches in Europe have zero impact on its culture. In fact, most traditional churches have closed their doors and the last of the protestant missionary churches are only supporting Americans who live in Europe. The church in North America has poured all of its energy into getting people to fill its pews, hoping those who hear the gospel would come to faith in Christ. Now, we’ve spruced up the buildings and sharpened the services, yet fewer and fewer unchurched people are making decisions for Christ. Slowly but surely we’re learning something. We can fix up the barn, but the wheat won’t harvest itself. So, what are we to do? For the sake of the gospel and for the honor of Jesus we must refocus our hearts, retool the local church, and recharge followers of Jesus to accomplish the Great Commission.
There are so many denominations and independent churches it is almost unbelievable, and yet there is only one Bible. It is evident that God has one thing to say to all people, one plan for our conduct and relationship with Him; but we have developed many churches and church groups to suit our own varying ways of interpreting what the Bible says. I have come to understand that none of us are 100 percent correct. Most of the things that separate us are very petty. Jesus told the Pharisees that they strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel. (Matthew 23:24 KJV). They had gotten so picky about little things that really did not make any difference; it prevented them from centering in on the main things that were truly vital.
“For it has been made clear to me, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions and wrangling and factions among you. What I mean is this, that each one of you [either] says, I belong to Paul, or I belong to Apollos, or I belong to Cephas (Peter), or I belong to Christ. Is Christ (the Messiah) divided into parts? Was Paul crucified on behalf of you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:11-13 AMP)
Christ is not divided into parts, and neither can His body be divided. In Matthew 12:24 He warned “…Any Kingdom that is divided against itself is being brought to desolation and laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will last or continue to stand.” As members of the church, the body of Christ, we are powerless as long as we are filled with prejudice and disharmony. Agreement brings power.
The convergence movement is a coming together of the three major historic branches of the Church, the Holy Spirit, the Word and the Sacrament. Each of these expressions of the Church of Jesus Christ have been carefully nurtured by God and greatly used to establish and to expand His work on earth. Our Lord’s Prayer for his church was, “Father that they may be one even as we are one.”(John 17:21) Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us that, “a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” When the three strands of God’s Church are braided together there will be a new strength and unity in the church.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NIV).
The Convergence Movement has identified the three living streams of the Church and invites God to bring them together as one complete and life-giving river. “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the Place where the Most High dwells” (Psalm 46:4). The Convergence Movement seeks to blend or merge the essential elements in the Christian faith represented historically in three major streams of thought and practice: the Evangelical, the Holy Spirit and the Sacrament. These three streams each in their own way have defined the map of Christianity through the ages and will merge like a flood into the future to bring reconciliation and unleash God’s powerful purpose for his Church. For the present time, Convergence Churches will be powerful symbols and agents of reconciliation and harmony of God’s people.
The Convergence Church practices the living historic rites of the Church, which are vital to worship and have been preserved and practiced throughout the ages.
The Convergence Church has a high view of Holy Scripture; it believes that all things necessary for salvation and godly living are found in the Scriptures. It is committed to the faithful reading, studying, teaching, and preaching from the Scriptures; as well as believing that the Holy Scriptures are a wellspring for spiritual maturity. It believes in the necessity of a personal conversion and relationship with Jesus Christ. It believes in the priesthood of every believer, a holy life, it is committed to evangelism (Soul-Winning) and missions, and the importance of Spirit-anointed preaching as contrasted with mere ritual.
Sacramental (Holy Communion)
The Convergence Church practices the living historic rites of the Church, which are vital to worship and have been preserved and practiced throughout the ages. The sacraments of Holy Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper) and Baptism are essential to the life of the church. It draws on the traditions and wisdom of the Historic Church and is unashamedly part of the Apostolic Church. At the center of its worship is the sacrament of Holy Eucharist (The Lord’s Supper) in which it believes that grace is imparted by the real presence of Christ.
Since we each carry certain values forward from the church background from which we come, when it comes to building unity in the Church, we are open to each person. If we allow one anothers differences of emphasis within our own sphere of ministry, yet work hard to find points of agreement, then we have the basis of true unity and cooperation in the Body of Christ. The respect of differences and belief that God is the author of these differences is central to our mutual success
The particular blend of these historic streams is left to the leadership of each local church or diocese, but an acknowledgment of common values is necessary. A Convergence Church is not bound by any other body to determine its own unique way of blending these three streams. Each church must be sensitive to the local culture and to the specific needs of those whom it serves.
The Holy Spirit (Charisma)
The Convergence Church through the Holy Spirit who is at work in the church and the world manifesting God’s power and releasing God’s gifts emphasizing the free expression of the Person of the Holy Spirit, especially in exhortation (preaching and teaching), expressive praise teams, laying on of hands for healing, altar calls and prayer (john 14-16). Jesus never spoke in a language that one could not understand (Acts 2:11). Therefore, we do not practice tongues in our services. From the Apostles to the modern Church, Christians have been endowed with a power beyond themselves; a power from the Holy Spirit Himself to evangelize the world of all Nations. The Convergence Church not only allows, but also anticipates the Spirit’s presence and working through this gifting in both worship and in daily acts of service. The gift we receive from God is His Holy Spirit!
Common Elements of Convergence Churches:
“The Blending of the different practices of the different streams is evident, yet each church approaches convergence from its own views and emphases.
“A restored dedication to the sacraments, especially baptism and the Lord’s Table.
“A love and embrace for the whole church and a desire to see increased unity and cooperation.
“An interest in a harmonious mixture of structure; symbolism, biblical preaching and Spirit-led worship.
“A comprehensive commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
“An identification and connection with the historical church, particularly the church of the first four centuries.
For further information, see this document: Robert E Webber’s Legacy: Ancient Future Faith and Worship Robert_Webber_Legacy