(In The Life Of The Church)
At the beginning of the fall semester, the ubc staff packs up a few odds and ends that seem to paint a picture of our church, and head over to Baylor for Church Fair. Meeting new people is great, but the part where you’re supposed to do a “marketing pitch” is probably the worst thing we do as a staff every year. The marketing part usually comes in response to questions students ask us—and there are a handful that always come up. Some students will ask Josh what his preaching style is like (which is always a fun moment). Toph will invariably be fielding a lot of questions about our mission efforts. And I answer about 50 different phrasings of “So is your worship, like, traditional or contemporary?”
I’m going to shoot you straight. I don’t like this question. For a few reasons, but mostly because I don’t know how to answer it.
To begin with, the question always uses “worship” to mean “music,” and I think that’s highly problematic. But I get that that's a thing people do. And, yes, technically I could answer the question behind the question (choir/orchestra or rock band?) by telling them we play some kind of rock music. But the liturgical elements of our service don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with the broad-strokes category of “contemporary.”
So anyway, on my first trip to Church Fair, after about an hour of trying to find an accurate descriptor for our “worship style,” I answered this question with, “Uh—ancient-future?”
I’ll be honest—at the time, I didn’t really know what I meant by that, and, unsurprisingly, the students asking the question didn’t know what I meant by that either. But it felt right, so I kept doing it.
That phrase had been in my head for some time. I think the first time I became aware of it was when I saw a copy of Robert Webber’s Ancient-Future Faith, which i have since read (He also has one that is a bit more on the nose—Ancient-Future Worship—that I plan on reading soon. I don’t know that what he means by that term is exactly the same as what we mean by it, but it’s close.) To offer a vast oversimplification of what he’s doing in that book, he is saying that the way forward for Christianity is in a reclaiming of the traditions of the past. I had also seen this phrase on our website as one of many that people had used to describe our liturgy, so it wasn’t completely innovative or random that I pulled it out to answer the traditional v. contemporary question.
At the moment, I’m trying to pull together some more comprehensive thoughts on what it means for us to have an Ancient-Future liturgical life, and the rest of this post will be what I have so far. To do that, I’ll speak about our liturgy in general and our music in particular.
As you have likely noticed, our liturgy is crafted around the church calendar. Following this calendar allows us to live through the Christian story year after year. When we engage this story, we challenge ourselves to be sort of unstuck in time. By that I mean, we attempt to imaginatively enter into the world of the story and experience it apart from our 21st century vantage point. So, for example, at Advent, we place ourselves in the darkness of exile, waiting for the Light of Christmas, taking on the role of the people of God clinging to who God has been for them in order to shape a hope that things will change. This is the ancient part of our framework.
But as we do this, we also engage this story as people in a particular time and place (Waco, TX, 2017). These people are asking their own sorts of questions and reckoning with their own struggles, and these people go through the story year after year knowing what’s coming, while also calling into question their assumptions about each part of the story. So, during Advent, we look around to see the present darkness of the world so we can have in mind exactly what it is that needs a Light. And with this, we do two things: we identify and reacquaint ourselves with the things that God is actively working to redeem, challenging ourselves to be a part of this work, and we attempt to foster a hope that looks forward to the coming of the Kingdom in fullness. This is the future part of our framework.
This is framework is reflected in the music at ubc. Best I can tell, our ubc songbook is about 40% hymns, 20% “contemporary” worship songs, and 40% original material. We seek out songs that are quite old so that we can participate in the worship of God with the church of a different time, we seek out contemporary songs so that we can participate in the worship of God with the church of a different place, and we write our own songs to grasp for expression and content particular to the concerns of the church within our time and place. These songs from across time become a part of our vocabulary, part of our communal DNA, and we take them all equally seriously. This has a significant impact on the songs that we write. The theological freight of hymnody and the emotional particularity of newer songs enter into a conversation with the concerns of our community, and something different than any one of those things emerges.
To say all of this at once: our liturgy invites us into a story of dynamic implications, and encourages us to look at who God has been for the people of God as a way of sustaining the hope of who God will continue to be for us. It also invites us to continue to look for answers to questions that we think we have already answered, and helps us combat our tendency to make our ideas about God into idols.
The ancient-future concept is both descriptive of and prescriptive for our liturgical approach—some aspects of this are already present in our worship together, and we are continuing to lean into this identity and allowing it to draw us forward. I suppose on some level the idea of having a sense of both history/tradition and present culture is universal in churches, so one might wonder what the point is in having a particular label to place on it. For me, this label is a shorthand way to refocus us on what we are trying to do liturgically. Although some labels are for people on the “outside” of a community to understand something about the group before they experience it up close, this label really just stands as a challenge to those within the community to remember who they are.
So, like I said, I’m still fleshing this idea out, but if you hadn’t heard the “ancient-future” phrase thrown around, you have now. I hope you’ll carry this lens into our liturgies and try to explore the various questions that the Christian story poses to you.
As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or just want to talk more about this, feel free to email email@example.com.
Our quarterly town hall meeting will take place after church on July 16th.
UBC Offices are closed Tuesday
In the event you were planning on stopping by on Tuesday, don't! July 4th is one of the days we shut everything down and stay home.
HR Team Member Needed
We are proud and grateful for the work of Mathew Crawford and Maxcey Blaylock who both rotated off the UBC HR team. That means we are looking for two new members of our community to serve on that team. If you have HR or related experience or know someone who does, you can nominate them or yourself to work on the HR Team. Nominations should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Selections will be made at our July leadership team meeting. Below you will find some information on the HR team from our bylaws.
(A) Purpose. The Human Resources/Staff Support Team shall exist for the following purposes:
a. To establish procedures for the hiring of ministerial and non-ministerial staff, and to enact those procedures when advised by Leadership Team to do so.
b. To advise Leadership and Finance teams on issues regarding long-term staff needs.
c. To create and implement staff review procedures.
d. To advise Leadership and Finance teams on matters regarding staff compensation, benefits, grievances and termination.
e. To be a liaison between the congregation and staff during times of conflict after all attempts at personal, one-on-one resolution has been made.
(C) Qualifications. HR/Staff Support Team members shall have been an active participant in the life of UBC for no less than one year, have received a bachelor’s degree (or roughly an equivalent amount of experience in personnel management, ministry, or other related field,) and have a demonstrable understanding of organizational management.
Princes Fundraiser for Mission Waco
Work is Worship
Coffee Makers: Jobson
Mug Cleaners: Woods
Money Counter: Anna T.
- Sunday Sermon: Genesis 22:1-14
- Please be in prayer for our special guest preacher Taylor Post
- Tuesday Dives Location: No Dives on Tuesday, enjoy the 4th of July.
- 7-10 OOTP Go Bowling 5:30-7:30 @ Baylor SUB
- 7-16 Town Hall After Church
- 7-?? Summer Event Dos ... more info to come
- 7-21: UBCYP cookout at McGregor's House
- 8-6 OOTP Pool Party After Church @ Baylor SLC
- 8-13 OOTP Parent Meeting After Church @ UBC
- 8-23 OOTP First Meeting!!! (Welcome 5th graders!) 6-8 P.M. @ UBC
Do you have an emergency and need to talk to a pastor?
254 413 2611
If you have a concern or an idea for UBC that you’d like to share with someone that is not on staff, feel free to contact one of our leadership team members.
Chair- Jon Davis: email@example.com
Byron Griffin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stan Denman: Stan_Denman@baylor.edu
Adam Winn: email@example.com
Bridget Heins: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharyl Loeung: email@example.com
Emma Wood: firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Position: Samuel Moore: email@example.com
Student Position: Leah Reed: Leah_Reed@baylor.edu
UBC Finance Team
Do you have a question about UBC’s financial affairs? Please feel free to contact any of your finance team members.
Josh McCormick: Josh.McCormick@dwyergroup.com
Hannah Kuhl: HannahKuhl@hotmail.com
Justin Pond: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anna Tilson: Anna_Tilson@jrbt.com
Doug McNamee: email@example.com
UBC HR Team
If you have concerns about staff and would like contact our human resources team, please feel free to email any of the following members.
Rob Engblom: Rob_Engblom@baylor.edu
Ross Van Dyke: Ross_Vandyke@baylor.edu
Jared Gould: firstname.lastname@example.org