If you are a worship leader and have ever been asked about what you during the week, this post is for you. Maybe you are the one asking the questions as the pastor or congregational leader. Being a worship leader or musical ministry leader is a big job. The entire […]
Do I really need to go to church as a follower of Christ? When Jesus talked with the “Woman at the Well” about places of worship, his point wasn’t that place was unimportant. Worshiping in “Spirit and truth” can be done anywhere, so we know it is not about the […]
We have all been there. Everything may sound fantastic, look attractive, and planned with purposeful intent. But, something just doesn’t seem right. You feel fake vibes when hoping for authentic ones. Regardless, what makes a worship service fake might be boiled down to a few things even though there may […]
Photo Credit Sophia Louise Creative Commons It was repeated several times in a church staff meeting, so it was nothing new this time. The pastor instructed us to essentially be his “amen corner” during the sermon and exuberant charismatics during the musical time of the service. Laugh, visibly take notes, […]
A few years ago, a young adult very openly expressed his frustration with worship at church. “Rich, why is it that I feel closer to God at a Coldplay concert than I do at church?” This was a stunning admission, because it represented not just his experience but that of many and perhaps spoke to some doubts in my own mind. However, what came from this conversation changed how I viewed worship in church. Worship at church should either be made more like the secular music out there, if that is truly more spiritual. Or, there is something missing in the worship at church that needed to be changed. I tried the first, making relevancy a goal, but I think that hand has been overplayed. So, I am left with the second idea. What is missing?
If you are an avid worshiper of Christ and attend church on a regular basis, you probably already know what a fantastic worship experience is to you, right? Or, maybe you don’t attend church as often as you might because your past worship experiences never hit the mark. Having been to church more than many, I see the gamut and know that even when one person is soaring in their version of a worship service, another may be unaffected. There are many factors that contribute to why there is so much disparity, but I think I found ten reasons that will aid you in your experience of worship. I hope these help you!
In our society, what works and produces profit is what we value. While we hunger for a post-modern identity and story, the structures, all around us scream utility, conformity and results. Money rules. This might even be true in our houses of worship as we may have unintentionally turned business metrics on our expression of worship. The question is this: do we value utility more than beauty in our worship? The answer is that our culture-infused church in modern America apparently does.
I have enjoyed being part of worship and music ministry in the local church since the days I used to develop Kodak Kodolith slides projected over a cyclorama curtain. The changing colors and the sharp, crisp slides were all in analog, including the spelling errors! The Saturday night ritual of developing in my darkroom-closet was quickly terminated upon the purchase of our church’s first digital projector. Then, the horrors of PowerPoint as applied to congregational singing commenced.
From the first note to the last, what is played musically in church matters. Music is one of the historically prominent and powerful vehicles for our Christian worship–today as well as in the past. Whether the worship is expressed on a Fender strat or sung by a choir in full robes the music matters. Like the beams of a building need competent engineering, the execution of our music leadership requires skill. You can compensate all you want with automated loops, tracks and auto-tuning but in the end polished bronze is still bronze. Gold is the real thing. Just because something is shiny does not make it valuable or worthy in the long run. Is what we are offering as valuable as we think it is? Good musicianship and the several components that it contains matter.
At least two extremes exists when describing the role of the worship leader. Today, we ask for rockstar-monks to lead us in worship. I have heard an influential leader say repeatedly at conferences, “Your role is more important than mine as the preacher.” Really? This made me feel important at the moment, but reality says something else. As a worship leader we prepare people to hear the word, lead them in prayers, but how is that more important than leading and forming a congregation spiritually through preaching? As a worship leader, my role is surely significant as I serve the whole congregation and have a part in the spiritual formation, but not a superior part. I am simply just a part. And, to put that on me or any worship leader is to raise this role to monk status.
We want to be relevant with our worship music and need to have spiritually vibrant worship. A church itself is described by many leaders by the musical “ style” offered. There is traditional, gospel, contemporary, and modern as some words to describe just a few of the menu options. Music itself appears to how we brand our worship. If we brand worship as a music style what message does this send? I may have bad news for those who would be so pragmatic. We want something that works. Would we rather have something dumbed-down that we can control, or something that actually is culturally relevant, powerful, or engaging? In a discussion about styles of music in worship, we have to ask about the intent. Why do we want to be germane with our music? My point is clear. It’s complicated.
I will be periodically posting a series of essays this year: “How We Worship Matters: Essays on the Worship Battles We Should Fight.”
As human beings, we live in the physical world. Our spirituality is connected to this and there is nothing like the Incarnation to give us a picture of how this mystery exists. Jesus is fully God and fully human. What did Jesus display to us? Spirituality is housed in people, not in stone temples or in only one physical spot.
The arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost only amplified this by entering the life of every believer on the planet. We can now pray in concert with people all over the world because of our connection with the Holy Spirit. Our worship is empowered, no matter at a mountain campground, warehouse turned house of worship, or country chapel.