A useful distinction to consider is “vertical” worship vs. “horizontal” worship. ”
“Vertical” worship makes a connection between the individual and the holy – from you to God, so to speak.
“Horizontal” worship makes a connection between the individual and everything and everyone. From you to everyone else to God.
Contemporary worship tends to be horizontal, building on community and actively engaging everyone in community acts (singing, clapping, holding hands). Songs that are used in horizontal worship don’t talk about “you” or “me”, they talk about “we” and “us”. The holy is not treated as an abstraction to be sought by each individual, but as a manifestation of our hearts in community.
Think of your favorite hymn. Is its focus vertical or horizontal? If it’s vertical, what would it take to change it to horizontal? Aside from the unfamiliarity of new words, how does it feel to sing it now?
It’s hard to imagine how a UU preacher would react to shouts of “amen!” or “that’s right!” during a sermon. But it would sure be interesting to find out, wouldn’t it?
Note: Please see the comments for more interesting (and challenging) views on “horizontal” worship!