Corporate worship, about two years ago I walked away from it. Praise music on Sundays, youth on Wednesdays—after years and years, I said goodbye to it all. I didn’t loose faith, nor did I sin my way into shame, I just burned out. My feelings, my doubts, the weight of it all just bubbled up.
Like so many others before me, I was hurt by the church and left because of it. Hurt, though, is part of any relationship; it’s what we sign up for. As time went on, I realized my hiatus was less about mending hurt feelings and more about uncovering hidden ones.
This blog offers some food for thought about worship. Issues that bug me, stuff I’ve come to terms with. While I don’t wish to offend anybody, I do wish to start a conversation. So, here it goes.
This Isn’t a Concert?
Worship leaders deal with a lot of weird stuff. There’s this pressure, this weight. We’re told that God is the priority, that Jesus is the reason. “It’s not a performance,” we’re told. “It’s a Godcert.”
Then, we’re given a microphone and put under lights. We’re in a room, with a stage, built like a performance center. Songwriters exist in just about every church, yet only Top 40s worship is allowed. Keep the drums low, pick familiar songs, fill your time slot.
Isn’t worship so freeing! No, no, not really.
Since Christian musicians can’t call what they do a concert, or performance, or take any credit, they look for confirmation where they can get it. In my day, I’d count raised hands, or note those having an “experience.” Every worship leader does this. They’re lying if they say they don’t. The problem with this system is that we inevitably pander our services towards gaining such responses, both consciously and subconsciously.
Things get shallow, fast.
It’s not us, we say. It’s God. Then we pat ourselves on the back for having a good show, I mean set, I mean God is good, all the time.
This is the part of the conversation where someone reminds me that worship doesn’t have to be in musical form, in a church. I agree. In fact, I’d counter back and say that worship was never meant to be in musical form, in a church, but a life-long commitment. Singing in church, I believe, is just an act of unison between believers, an act of commodore.
Singing brings us together. It builds bridges. It reminds us of the hope we stake our claim in. It blurs out the differences and clarifies the similarities. It’s for us!
Why have we labeled it worship?
Fellowship, our meetings, is about loving and learning from each other in the name of Jesus. It’s about community, communion, and communication. It’s about learning HOW to worship.
There’s this individualistic “experience” in worship that everyone wants now. People my age flock to church in hopes of getting spiritually high so they can last another week. Ultimately, this is what pulled the plug for me.
We, us worship leaders, hypnotize our churches with chanting and self-indulgent “improvisation” until our congregations are blue in the face. We execute drum build-ups in musical bridges like clock-work—always before the last chorus—for a high user “experience” return rate. We have it down.
Then we say, “God did it,” and I punch a figurative hole in a figurative wall.
Rain Down on Me
The quality of Christian musicianship has never been better. It’s not uncommon for me to buy a CD from time to time. I’m not asking for churches to stop what they’re doing. I’m just saying we call it what it is, a Christian concert. No weird pressure, no mental breakdowns, no expectations. Let church be church and concerts be concerts. People can skip the concert if they want to and not be chastised for it.
After all, worshiping God is a life-long sacrifice, not a thirty minute music set. Washing feet, serving in love, praying for others, this worship is true.
Worship God on your own time.
What are your thoughts?