An Update from Shepherds and Ministers on Our Discernment Process
Woodmont Church Family,
On January 14, we announced that the shepherds and ministers were entering a 90-day period of discernment concerning worship at Woodmont. For several weeks we have been praying, reading, listening, and discussing the intersection of worship, mission, and heritage in our church life. We are considering the core values that should shape our practices, including, but not limited to, our practices concerning instrumental music. While we have not completed that 90-day period, we want to update you on what we are discerning at this point, and we want to invite you to join us in this process.
We spent considerable time discussing the theological aspects of our worship practices. Years ago, Woodmont concluded that there are no scriptural prohibitions against the use of instruments and that this practice was a matter of opinion, tradition, and heritage. While we maintained our acapella heritage in the Sunday morning assembly, we have used instruments in many other settings, including First Wednesday Worship, Good Friday Services, Youth Worship, Camps, Children’s Worship, Sanctuary for college students, and more. During this season of discernment, we have unanimously affirmed that there is no Scriptural command to use acappella singing only, and that we are free in Christ to reconsider this practice. So we have determined it is time to lift that restriction and begin a process of evaluating what changes should be made as we think more broadly about our worship. Affirming this freedom means we must now think about our assemblies theologically and missionally. We are in full agreement that the way we worship should be determined by how we honor God, are led by the Spirit, build each other up, and are transformed by our time in worship and fellowship.
We then moved from theological discussions to consider the relationship between our assemblies and our mission. Over the years, much has changed in our culture, our church, and even among other Churches of Christ and our shared institutions. We believe that we must consider whether our current practices in our assemblies will help us or hinder us from reaching unbelievers, discipling our children, and welcoming those we invite to our gatherings. Our focus cannot be on what any of us personally prefer. Our focus must be on the mission that sent Jesus into this world and called us into God’s family. Whatever decisions we make should be driven by our mission to love God, love each other, and love the world. Our discernment has led us to a consensus that reconsidering some aspects of our assemblies could help us accomplish God’s mission.
Our most recent discussions surrounded the pastoral implications of any decisions we may make about our assemblies and worship practices. We know that each of us is impacted personally by how we worship. We know that some have left our church family because of changes we have not made, and some may consider leaving if we do make changes. And we recognize that many of us have strong feelings about worship that involve aspects of our assemblies other than the way we sing—including the way we pray, take communion, and more. Whatever decisions come from this season, we are committed to lead us to love each other, listen to each other, and respect each other.
When Mark Phillips made the initial announcement on January 14, we pledged that this season would conclude with open and honest communication and that we would create space for dialogue as a church family. We are inviting you now to join us in that dialogue. We are asking you to continue to pray about these matters and to share with us what comes from your time in prayer. We aren’t asking for us all to push for our personal preferences. We are asking you to join with us in prayerfully discerning what God’s will is for our assemblies, how we can best fulfill our mission to reach people with the good news, and how can we continue to join together in worship and life as the Family of God at Woodmont Hills. And we want to hear what you feel God is saying.
We value your input, so on Wednesday, April 11, and Sunday, April 15, we will provide some focused opportunities to talk together about our assemblies, with more opportunities to follow. We also anticipate a survey of our church family. In the days ahead, we will take time for study, teaching, and prayer. No decisions have been made about what specific changes will be made in our Sunday assemblies, nor about when such changes will be made; and we will not make any changes without time for us to talk and pray together. Please continue to pray with us as we seek God’s will.
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant us to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together we may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
Your Shepherds and Ministers