Note: For the opening series of State of Play, we’ll be addressing the trend of worship music being based solely around emotion. During these next four weeks, we’ll be working through this topic by looking into Scripture, wrestling with different questions concerning this topic, as well as, calling in other worship leaders to comment on this growing trend.
When you step into a church building or an arena, ready to stand, or to sit, and to sing along with those around you, do you ever question, “Why am I here?” As you sing out songs like One Thing Remains, Oceans, Amazing Grace, and other common songs sung in worship, in what way do these songs strike your heart? Do you remember the times His love didn’t fail you? Do you really want your trust to have no borders and to fully trust where God may lead you? Do you think of where you might be if not for the grace of God? Or do you simply get excited because they’re singing your favorite song this Sunday? (Note: There’s nothing wrong with having a favorite worship song.) Or do you feel your emotions rise simply because the band is actually playing really great this Sunday? In essence, let’s boil the question down to this: “What motivates you to worship?”
Do you walk away full of emotion that passes as you engage with a busy afternoon? Or do you walk away full of awe towards the way God worked during the time of worship? Do you get excited about how incredible it was to worship the Almighty God, because He is God? As a worship leader myself, these are questions that I even wrestle with at times. I wrestle with singing primarily to see emotions rise within those whom I’m leading into worship. I wrestle with choosing the popular songs that I know people enjoy, simply because I actually see them lifting their hands and singing, instead of just sitting in their chair looking bored. But what is my motivation to be up on a stage leading worship? It has to come down to one thing for all of us: God.
The reason for writing this is because I see a growing trend—a trend of worship being and becoming more of a time where the congregation is just being carried away in an emotional high, rather than allowing themselves to be carried into worship where they can have a true heart-to-heart with their Creator. One may argue that God created us to enjoy worship music and God created emotions. True, He did. However, He created us to enjoy music for a purpose. There’s nothing wrong with our emotions; God has created them, but once again, He created them for a purpose. I think of many psalms that David wrote. One such Psalm being this one: “But I will sing of Your strength; I will sing aloud of Your steadfast love in the morning. For You have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress,” (Psalm 59:16). There’s also the verse in Revelation 4:11 that says, “Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created.”
As David worshipped, he remembered. He remembered the goodness of God. He recognized the justice, love, mercy, grace, and even the wrath of God, because it was in Him that this king “lived, moved, and had [his] being,” (Acts 17:28, paraphrased). The same applies to us. Even in times of pain, King David remembered God. “In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord…I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will ponder all Your work, and meditate on Your mighty deeds,” (Psalm 77:2a & 11-12).
I write all of this, because I see a need for a balance. This balance falls between introspection and pure emotionalism. As we begin to walk through this, I would encourage you to ask yourself, “Why do I sing what I sing in worship?” “How do this apply to me and to the whole Body of Christ?” “What motivates my worship towards God?” As we step through this, may it become a time of us growing closer to the One who has “called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light,” (1 Peter 2:9).