Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Just Worship

Ok so before I go on please remember that:
I have been, am, and will be a ‘worship leader’ (shiver shiver)
I think music is hard core great stuff and important for our spiritual lives.
music is a gift.

I found this post on Think Christian the basic gist of both was: stop b$%^&ing about lousy ‘worship’ music. SUCK IT UP – And just worship!
Quote: “I think what we need to do is just worship.”
So that’s it eh? Just give yourself an intellectual spanking for being so critical and do some worship. Sorry that just does not work for me on almost every level. I understand that having a default attitude of criticism is wrong but…
I just think it is crucial to sing, write, perform, ask other people to sing songs that are theologically honest. On top of that – while I don’t think arrogant perfection and showmanship is an admirable quality in a ‘worship’ leader, we do need to recognize that leading people to sing something together requires certain skills. And on top of all that – the spiritual maturity to lead songs that most people will feel good about participating in is immense. Given the diversity of musical tastes in most congregations – I would suggest that this is nearly impossible even with most skilled leader.
I think the only answer is to make music a special feature of our gathering times and not so much of a staple in our ‘worship’ diet. The other place for group singing is where the group is more homogeneous in musical tastes and singing preferences.


jenivere said...

I used to think this problem existed in all churches and was so frustrated by the whole thing that I withdrew completely -- for years. Jesse and I are members of the Alliance church in Linden and are finally attending a church where this isn't an issue. And we needed to. If we hadn't found this church, I don't know if I would be attending church at all. I see (and I want to agree with) your point of view in this post. But frankly, I just couldn't take anymore b$%^&ing, debating, or discussing about worship. Its SO nice to be able to show up on Sunday morning and just do it!

Paul Morgun said...

I think it needs to be clearly reminded that worship is not can happen in music environment...but worship is not music! Most are pre-conditioned to think of happy warm fuzzies with music and we call those fuzzies is not. I do not doubt or proclaim that worship does not happen in music and that people do not connect with God and the Spirit at that time. I think they do...I do... But worship is a way of life, in the right direction, towards God! In everything that you do, you do to the glory of God. That is what I am still working on ;) and sometimes debating! and some times the b word...

Outgoing... said...

paul, those are my thoughts as well - I just thought my rant was long enough as it is.
I get confused when someone says 'just worship' cause for me worship is mostly about sacrifice and I kinda don't think there is anything 'just' about that. but when people say that (just worship) I think they mean something else and I'm just not sure what that is.

Jen, I am sincerely glad that you have found a place where the tension around music styles and other controversial dynamics seem to be minimal. I think that was what I was trying to get at with my last sentence. I think there might be places where the context warrants a group singing thing (not sure what else to call it).
I think I also know sorta what you're talking about. When I went to Anaheim and participated in the group music that David Crowder lead us with there was a trust that he evoked in me. He was not pretentious at all - it felt good to sing along even if all the lyrics did not pass inspection (my own). And I am with you on the being tired of all the complaining and critiquing of 'worship' music.
I guess the answer for me is probably different for you and me. I know that many people still see group singing as a vital dynamic in the spiritual formation of a community of believers - I'm not one of those. Instead I would see it as an added bonus = an extra!
I value your opinion in this cause I think your connnection to music in general is distinct.

Paul Morgun said...

I know what you mean Dale. And I agree, just is not the right way of saying it!

jenivere said...

I'm struggling with this b/c I think there's validity to both points. I absolutely think that we should scrutinize what we sing/say/etc in worship. When I hear the words "just worship" I don't think it contradicts the sacrifice involved. There just doesn't seem to be any sacrifice in the complaining, etc. If everyone involved was earnestly seeking the Lord, humbling themselves and offering up a SACRIFICE of praise, wouldn't we all come together at some point? Shouldn't we organically find some unity in the Spirit? And then this conversation would cease to exist?

I still can't make sense of it really :)

PS If group singing is a bonus..interesting...I'm having trouble getting there...what does the service then look like to you?

Outgoing... said...

Jen, I guess that really depends on what kind of importance you place on having corporate/group singing in your gathering times. I think that depending on how you approach the importance of group music in our gathering times will dictate how you use it. For many I can see that group music is central. I think in that case it is natural to urge for unity in musical style preference or even in how the music is presented. When this type of music is a tops priority for gathering times I think that the options are limited though. You can try to please the very complex and ever changing musical palate of the congregation or you can change your congregation so that they are oriented around the use of a relatively uniform presentation of group music/singing. I wonder if what you have found Jen is the later.
The ideas I have been playing with see music drop significantly on the list of priorities for our gathering times. The reasons for this are not as important as the outcomes.
1. I give up. People's musical tastes are too varied. And then to ask them to feel good/unified/edified by material that they are uncomfortable with just feels like manipulation.
2. Not interested, in allowing music to remain the lightening rod for controversy. A lower priority on group music would mean that many churches would have a very flimsy identity left.
3. Restore music's power. By using it less it becomes special again.

So for me a gathering time could focus more on prayer, teaching, sharing in each others needs and organizing the corporate things we wanted to do each week to serve people in Jesus name. We could spend our gathering times building a house or something.
As for group singing/music why not do those at separate events and venues kinda like what is being done already just try to separate it more from being so central to the identity of the church.
Like I am not interested in eliminating it altogether cause I think it is powerful - just not central.

I also want to be clear that i am not advocating a critical attitude for its own sake (or even for the sake of convenience). I appreciate your perspective Jen and I think that my point of view might mostly be in the minority because I think alot of people equate thier church experience with musical interaction.

jenivere said...

I love those ideas!

Bonnie said...

Totally jumping in late on this one, but I'm just catching up! Thanks for your insightful comments on worship. I too agree, being married to someone who would beg to say that for him worship is NOT singing, I have learned and am continuing to learn that even "music" doesn't equate with worship, worship is so much more, an attitude, a choice, a sacrifice, and happens in so many more places than just church. I agree we need to skip the crap debating the types, tempos and genres of our musical tastes, but let's not loose the essence of what worship really is, the fact that it has nothing to do with the feeling it gives us, but so much more to do with what we are giving, and the attitude of our hearts. Thanks for letting me put my lousy two bits in on one of my favorite subjects... :-)

Outgoing... said...

good take bonnie