Worship has indeed become an increasingly popular term in the last 30 years or so. You can buy worship exercise DVDs, worship air fresheners, you can go to worship seminars and read worship manuals. We also have an endless selection of “worship” music to suit every taste. From Celtic to Ska, speed-metal to bluegrass, hip-hop to swing there’s something for everyone. Just the other day I was with friend who was listening to “disco” worship. Can you imagine that? I was a product of the rock-n-roll “death before disco” era so I can’t even conceive of such a thing. Needless to say that person is no longer my friend (just kidding). I mean really, “disco” worship? How does that work? Do I need to unbutton my shirt and wear thick chains with big crosses for that? Do I need to do the holy Hustle?
But seriously, in evangelical circles today “worship” has pretty much become synonymous with singing hymns and songs of praise. “Worship time” is more often than not code for “singing time.” Churches are frequently defined by the style of music featured at their services and people will base their affiliation to a body of believers based on that very choice. We speak of churches as traditional or contemporary, progressive or liturgical because of their style of music. The quality of music and musicians has also changed pretty dramatically in the last few decades. The “product” featured in many churches in 2008 is far different that it was in the past. Musicians are generally more polished, sound systems and instrumentation is of higher caliber and well-written music with high production values is more readily accessible.
It’s in this environment that I think something insidious has happened.
Have we stopped being participants and started becoming connoisseurs of worship?
As a worship leader, sometimes someone will come up to me after service and say, “Worship was really great today.” Now I realize that’s just an encouragement that’s being offered (and I certainly appreciate that) but it makes me think. Does that just mean that the team played well today and song selection was good? What if we break strings or the sound system goes south? What if there are projection issues or a new song is introduced that just doesn’t click? Does that mean worship is not so good that morning? Is my ability to worship God directly tied to the music? What is “good” worship, or better yet, what is “bad” worship. The problem is that we often become worship critics and not participants. Too much bass, not enough keys, too loud, too soft, I don’t like the lyrics, not that song AGAIN. We become like worship Goldilocks searching for the perfect bowl of praise porridge.
Do this… When you come to church this week don’t come asking what you can get out of worship but pray beforehand and ask God what you can bring instead. Remember, you are not the audience- God is. You are the performer. We all are. What will you bring Him this week?
When the music fades
And all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless your heart
I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the ways things appear
You’re looking into my heart
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You
All about You, Jesus
I’m sorry Lord for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You
It’s all about You Jesus
Words and Music by Matt Redman
BTW.. these are the answers to this Sunday’s crossword