State of Play #002 "Emotionally Involved" (Part 2) by Andrew Funderburk on 2015-02-06 11:42:30
Last week, the topic of worship simply driven by emotion was covered. It was looked at more so from a congregational response to worship. This week, I’ll be focusing on the current state of worship by looking into the way worship leaders may be a part of the “emotionally driven worship.”
Being from Mississippi, then traveling to Minnesota, and then flying across the Pacific to live overseas, I’ve walked into various churches with different styles of worship. I’ve been to the church whose worship is very liturgical. I’ve also experienced the opposite, where the worship is all free flow. Then there have been the places where there have been moderations of the two styles previously mentioned. In most of these gatherings, no matter the worship style or the way it is led, I have been able to experience and know the presence of God to a greater degree. However (wait for it)…however, there have been the churches where I come to worship God and what is seen and heard is just a show. It appears to be just a performance. If I want that, I can just go to any concert and receive the same experience. This is the topic that I want to pinpoint.
First, I would like to state that being a worship leader can be difficult. People don’t like the song choices that were picked with care. People don’t like the new song that was introduced, because it’s “not their style” or they “didn’t feel it.” Sometimes looking out into the crowd can make a worship leader wonder if he/she isn’t singing in a mortuary. There is also the weight on the worship leader, because he/she is a leader. There is a responsibility that lies in the worship leader’s hands. That responsibility is to lead others into worship. A worship leader’s responsibility is to lead others to the Leader, not lead those gathered into a time of empty hype.
What troubles me though is that these days there seems to be a pull towards worship being a time of entertainment rather than a time to fulfill the purpose of worship. There “has to be” state-of-the-art sound systems and lights for many to feel that they have worshipped. The worship leaders know the right words to say in order to get the crowd jumping up and down and yelling at the top of their lungs. (Clarification: I don’t think that jumping up and down and yelling is an inappropriate style of worship. Remember, we’re discussing the heart behind it. Nor am I saying we should just stand and do nothing during worship.) Also, there’s a ton of hype behind certain worship groups, which again, there’s nothing wrong with having a certain group that plays and writes well. The trouble comes in when we as worshippers fall into the Romans 1:25 category where instead of worshipping the Creator, we begin to worship the created. In essence, it becomes a form of idolatry.
Being a worship leader myself, I want to lead well. I want those worshipping to engage with God. I’m sure this is also the heart of most worship leaders. But in the middle of all the lights and action, how has the worship leader led others to God’s heart through his/her onstage words and actions? Is what is being seen and heard a reflection of God’s heart for His greater glorification and for His people? I do believe that we should be excited for who God is and what He is doing; however, is the excitement that the worship leaders encourage and actual excitement for our awesome God, or is it an inducement of excitement just for the sake of…excitement?
In closing, two Scriptures that come to mind are from Ecclesiastes and Proverbs. Ecclesiastes 12:13 says, “The end of the matter [is this]…Fear God and keep His commandment, for this is the whole duty of man,” and Proverbs 1:7a says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” In finality, how are our leaders leading us closer to the God’s heart? Are they encouraging the fear of the Lord in us and compelling us to do the same for others?
As we smiled at the people we met on our walk I wondered at the social custom that requires face-to-face congeniality on a bike path among strangers who would soon be in our respective cars fighting over a lane change. It’s easier to be mad at people when we can’t see their faces.
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