August 10, 2009

Worship War Arguments Deconstructed--Part 6

I've personally been involved in three churches who have made or made the transition from traditional to more modern and from what I've experienced there are several arguments made on both the traditional and modern sides that are similar, no matter where you go. Over the next several days, I'm going to provide one of the arguments, state what I think is really being said, then state what the appropriate response should be. Feel free to comment, agree, or disagree...or throw in your own argument. Click here to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Argument #6--What's happening on stage is more of a "performance" than TRUE worship.

What I think is really being said:
"I don't care for the music that our church uses. Because I don't like it, I don't want to sing along with it. Since I don't sing along with the music, what's happening on stage comes across as a concert. Worship music should be easy to sing along with, or else it becomes a performance. The truth is that if they were doing music I liked, I would be happy to be on stage singing with them. It's different when I'm up there helping to lead the music. When I'm up there, I know my heart and I'm truly worshipping. I'm not so sure about the people up there, though. It seems like they're more in it for the performance. The attention should be on God and not on them."

The appropriate response: I've always found it interesting when people make the argument that "what's going on stage seems more like a performance." I've heard people who prefer a choir-driven service and a band-driven service both make this argument. The interesting part is that much more often than not, the people who make this argument wish that they were "on stage" helping to lead the kind of music they prefer.

When "they" do it, it's a performance. When "I" do it, it's worship. Huh?

I think there is danger in judging the intent of someone's heart. The point of worship is to bring your best offering to God. If you are a great singer, then you should sing your best for God. If you are a great guitar player, then you should play your best for God. This goes for anyone who is on the stage during a worship service. The should use their gifts to the best of their abilities to turn the attention to who God is and what He has done.

There is a line that can be crossed where someone's worship draws attention away from God and towards themselves. But where is that line? And who draws it? What if my genuine expressive worship isn't pleasing to your tastes? What if I believe that worship should be reverent, so smiling and clapping is distracting to me? Does that make it wrong?

If we draw the line in refusing to use anything that qualifies as a "peformance," then that's going to knock out a lot of what we do in worship. People who have no problem sitting and listening to a huge choir perform seem to be the ones who take issues with a band leading in songs they do not know, and therefore can't sing along. This gets back into the argument that some styles of music are more godly than others...and that's a dead end road.

Basically, if you are accusing the people on stage of "peforming" while at the same time wishing that you could be up their "leading in worship" with the music you prefer, I'd take a step back and think about how that comes across.

In the meantime, assume that the people on stage really do want to lead you in worship. If it's all about them in their own mind, then people will eventually figure it out. You won't have to tell them, first.

1 comment:

Adam said...

What do people think about the idea that choirs, worship bands, etc. reflect to much of Old Testament Temple style worship and not enough of the pure word and spirit style of NT. In other words, give me an elder in Christ's Church leading the congregation in praise and loose everything else (not including preaching, prayer, and the sacraments).