Thursday, January 29, 2009

music and church

There's huge discussion in church world about the purpose of music in worship. Obviously denominations feel differently about it, but even churches within the same denomination have tons of differences and opinions. I've always been taught that music's purpose was to help lead others in worship, but that doesn't really explain how to go about using music to do that.

An argument that often comes up is how to get the congregation to sing during the songs. The thought there is that if people are singing then that reflects their heart's desire to worship, which I think can be very true. I've always based how much a person is worshiping by how much they are getting into a song, because for me that is a pretty good way to tell if I'm worshiping. Obviously though any worship leader/churched person would tell you that "it's all about what's going on inside of the person's heart... " That is made clear by 1 Samuel 16:7.

Intertwined with that argument, however, is the battle between music being played as a "worship song" and as a "performance". There's often lots of criticism towards performance based music. I think the reasoning there is very good- if a band is simply playing music to perform then they aren't attempting to lead the audience in worship.

I still agree with that perspective to an extent, but tonight I've started to reconsider that whole ideology. I had an extremely close friend of mine tell me today that the most uncomfortable situations for her are those where she is at a worship service. This was a huge shock to me, because this is a friend who absolutely does not get put in awkward situations. She is absolutely incredible about not being socially awkward... ever! I admire her so much for that because I'm one of the most socially awkward persons there is! Anyway, she said that she always feels so uncomfortable whenever there's words on a screen and a leader at the front wanting people to get excited, clap their hands, sing, lift their hands... pretty much anything a Contemporary worship leader would be doing at a worship gathering in today's church world.

Now I'm not saying that this one girl's perspective should completely revamp the way we approach worship environments from now on, but I do think it's something to consider. To be completely honest I'd never even thought about someone feeling out of place in a worship service, especially since our services are designed to make people feel welcome.

She finished by telling me that if she could just sit and listen to music and not be expected to sing that she wouldn't feel as out of place. That mindset contradicts some of the worship perspectives mentioned earlier, but if the goal is to reach nonchurched people, then maybe our churched way of viewing worship might have to change..

One final thought, when people attend a concert there is no pressure to sing, yet people walk away appreciating the music and getting into the songs. Is it possible for people to connect with God without there ever being any direction given from a leader? Can songs themselves lead people to the heart of God? And if so, then maybe that's a direction the church should take worship, because the ultimate goal is to enable people to connect with God. All just thoughts... and I'm not discounting worship leaders at all.

1 comment:

  1. Nate,
    I think what you are running into here is that not everyone connects with God through song and that's ok. The Church needs to be more than just a worship service. I think we need to try to find an approach to worship that balances all of the many ways a person's heart can be connected with God. And really, worship is the simple act of laying it down at God's feet, even if there isn't a band playing.