I must first of all say I am thoroughly enjoying doing the Essentials Course in worship studies. I have found their materials so thought provoking and yet so balanced and mature. Definitely check the course out if you have a heart for worship!
Anyway back to what I wanted to say…In the church I grew up in there were often differing opinions on worship, and some pretty strong ones at that (I see those heads nodding 🙂 ). One of them was on “cultural relevance” and “accessibility”, i.e. we were dealing with issues of how we make the “church” cool to other people and maybe even to ourselves because even though most “religious” people won’t admit it, they are bored out of their minds.
It sad to know that these “wars” still continue today, when really the problem isn’t with the other guy who wants to rock out or sing hymns. The problem was us all along. (swallowing bitter pill…). The way I see it the problem has never been should we sing hymns or not or should we sing the latest songs off the Worship Top 40, the problem is about who we are serving.
We all know that worship is about us (wait quick double take, what did he say?) At least that’s what we believe if we are honest with ourselves. Even us worship leaders make worship about us rather than first God and THEN others.
I think worship should be directed towards God but we should also be serving each other by choosing actions, meditations, prayers and songs that help others to connect with God. Far too often worship leaders under the banner of “cultural relevance” choose the songs they want to sing instead of the songs the community, in front of them needs to connect with God. As leaders we need to keep at the front of our minds the question “what is going to help these people connect with Jesus today?”
The other issue goes a little deeper. I have always found that in these churches where there are struggles in worship it is because choosing the right song has become the focus. It’s sort of like if you choose the right song (or my favourite song at the moment) then worship will be awesome, but if you don’t then worship will be rubbish.
That’s also not the point, I mean isn’t this about God and His presence? What God wants isn’t a song or sacrifice (depending on which Testament you choose to live in… jokes) he wants people who will come to Him in faith (Heb 11), He wants people who will worship in spirit and in truth (John 4) and He wants people who are humble (Psalm 51).
I once heard Graham Cooke say that as long as God’s presence is manifesting, that people are getting saved, that miracles are happening on a weekly basis and the poor are being looked after, you will always be relevant. Pretty powerful stuff hey. I think so often we hide behind “being culturally relevant” and choosing cool songs so we don’t have to own up to the fact that God left the building a long time ago.
As always I welcome any comments 🙂