I remarked recently that I had attended a near lifeless traditional church. More recently, I attended a traditional service that was filled with life. What was the difference? It really came down to who got to play and who didn't.
Taking my cues from the Alt Worship network in the UK, new forms of worship do not equate to candles and coffee, videos and tables, stations and art. Rather, it is about access and inclusion. Who was invited and empowered to create and participate in worship? Was worship from the people or from the experts? Was the door open for any to come and share in the worship planning and execution? Did the worship itself invite a bodily encounter between a person and God, thus facilitating an engaged form of worship? Was there a deep sense that this is the people's worship and represents our collective offering to God? Was worship from us, the average Jane and Joe in the congregation, or was it from the priests performing rites for us, to us, but not with us?
These are the primary contributions of Emerging Church worship, but that is not to say that it hasn't existed in other movements and at other times. But I would say it is more explicit here than I have observed in other movements in the recent past.
I received joy and a deep sense of communal worship at that traditional service, as I witnessed young and old, men and women, representing various cultures and traditions, offering themselves up to God, in ways that made sense in their worlds. For me, it doesn't get much better than this...