(pic credit: ©2017 crisbaj . Used with permission)
A church gathers together on a Sunday (like most churches in America).
The platform lights come up, and the ‘new millennium liturgy’ opens up with ‘praise and worship’ (different regions call it different things, but same idea).
The ‘band’ comes out and dives into those opening pop/rock/jazz/gospel chords (hopefully solid, and in tune).
The lead vocalist steps forward and encourages everyone to stand and join in (usually some up-beat crowd-rousing line).
The song takes off, energetically delivered by the vocalists (sometimes front-lined, sometimes choir-formation, many microphones).
The projected lyrics help people sing along (hopefully a song people have sung before, in a sing-able congregational key).
The vocalists on stage are impassioned and animated during their singing (resembling well-known concert singers).
Parts of the song highlight top-shelf professional vocal or instrumental ‘solos’ with solid stage optics (well, just like the record or video).
The song ends and the gathered crowd applaud the amazing presentation (with gratitude).
Remember, this is a church gathering…
I have some questions:
Regarding God-worship and God-Adoration, what is happening here?
Does this (now-common) Sunday-morning presentational format speak to the values of that church?
What does this scenario ‘message’ to the people who are a part of the audience/congregation regarding God-worship and God-Adoration?
What does this high-octane presentation ‘model and teach’ people about God-Worship and God-Adoration, especially in regards to their own journey and struggle towards day-to-day prayer, worship and adoration? How does it help them?
What percentage of the gathered people in the audience/congregation find this type of professional-quality musical presentation highly conducive to connecting with the Lord in a deep and profound way? What percentage become spectators, responding to a captivating and enjoyable live performance?
If the leaders and pastors of that particular church (or any church) realized that the ‘praise and worship’ set had become focused on great performance values, and most people were becoming spectators, would they be concerned… or grateful?
I love live music. I am a practicing musician. I love playing guitar in live bands. I love watching top-shelf artists present their craft.
I also support being good at ‘worship arts’… when the Church gathers for Worship and Adoration.
I believe the Scriptures call us music-type Levites to work at getting it right musically. Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” The verse before calls out stringed instruments (c’mon, guitarists!).
Yes, as modern-day Levites, we should work at solid musicianship before our Lord. However, what does that really look like in the gathering of God’s People to Worship and Adore? When does quality live musicianship in that context move from ‘to Him’ and become a performance… like all those ‘not to Him’ concerts and videos we are constantly being exposed to??
The exhilaration and excitement felt at the end of a great performance rendered during the ‘praise and worship’ time… especially with highly talented vocalists and musicians is, well… it’s exhilaration and excitement for sure, but not automatically the same thing as His Presence, or the experience the People of God have when He comes in a Manifest way.
Can we have a highly professional delivery during ‘praise and worship’, and have a significant visitation of His Presence? Yes, but… there are some critical elements and values at play in that scenario… which we’ll look at in a future AdoreTheLord Blog.
For sure… a church leadership group either works through these things, makes purposeful choices for their congregation and continually disciples their ‘worship arts’ peeps, so that the public meetings will lead their congregation into His Presence and away from performance-ethics… OR other things will un-knowingly begin driving the church down a different road…
For sure… the individual musicians in ‘worship arts’ are swimming in the roaring river of the modern music industry, being pressured towards performance ‘professionalism’, and having the constant lure to perform for the thrill and applause…
For sure… the emotions felt from a professional performance will always be a temptation to keep us from really experiencing His Presence…
For sure… since most of the churches in America are small (+/- 185 people average… future AdoreTheLord Blog…) and many struggle to have ANY ‘worship arts’ ministry, this area can be really tough, given the large amount of ‘worship’ music now being professionally distributed…
It is easy to be swept away by an amazing musical performance. In this ‘new millennium’, how do church leaders and pastors sort through church values and practice, especially in the area of ‘praise and worship’? How do ‘worship arts’ peeps avoid ‘taking it over the top, for the applause’??
(epilogue: Yes, my friends, there’s ‘the Holy Ghost touches people, regardless what’s happening on the platform…” factor… I’ve been in situations where the ‘praise and worship’ was over-the-top rock-concert performance, and a few people really met the Lord that morning… there are also times where a truly humble and beautiful time of worship happened, and some people were not even moved…)
written by crisbaj
© 2017 by crisbaj/AdoreTheLord.blog All rights reserved.
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