Interesting thoughts on the future of worship in the church.

Posted on January 9, 2009. Filed under: Church, Music, Theology, Worship Leading | Tags: , , |

This morning, as I was reading the posts from my twitter site, I was reading some of what Scott Wagner had written, (I am a follower of his on twitter, which if you don’t use twitter, you need to check it out here.) Anyways, as I was reading scotts post, (or tweets, I think as some people call them,) I came across his son and my friend, Austin’s blog. Now, I don’t talk to Austin on a regular basis, nor do we have our cell numbers in each other’s phones, but Austin and I have played together a couple of times, and Austin is a young man that I consider beyond his years both in playing and in his walk with God. I read what Austin wrote, and for your convenience, I have posted it below: (Which I just figured out, he got from another site. Still, very profound.)

What is the future of worship?

In general, I believe the future of worship is really getting back to what worship truly is.  We have settled into this 4-5 song “worship” set with an offering song and an invitational song.  Why do we have to be so structured?  Why can’t there be change?

A definition from WordNet 3.0 says: “Love unquestioningly and uncritically or to excess; venerate as an idol.”  Worshipping through music provides a way to express our emotions.  The lyrics speak to how we feel about God.  They are meant to show how much we love him.  We don’t need a big production to worship God.  We don’t need a huge band, orchestra, or choir.  We don’t need all the lighting equipment and sound equipment.  We can worship without all of that.  We can worship with only our voices.  This doesn’t mean that all these things are wrong, they are just not a necessity.  Sound and lighting equipment allow for a larger number of people to worship together, but are not a foundation for worship. 

We get so worked up over all the technical aspects of worship that we miss the whole entire point: this is praise for the God who created us.  This is my biggest struggle with worship today.  Because I play drums/percussion, I want everything to be musically perfect.  I want the technical things to be right.  It’s very hard for me to get past that.  (There is something to be said about preparation and having the talent neccessary to perform and lead others in worship.  You cannot get up on stage to lead others and worship and not know anything about your instrument.)

To go back, why can’t there be change?  Why can’t we add something new to worship?  I remember at places I’ve played that we’ve spent so much time worrying about making everything so perfect that we forget to bring in new music.  We push off new songs because they’re not at a high enough quality.  They’re not perfect.  Does it really have to be perfect?  In most instances, people playing at a church are volunteers, not professional musicians.  And more importantly, it’s not a concert.  You’re not charging people to hear you play music, so in general, they won’t leave if it’s not perfect music.  If they do, well they weren’t there for the right reasons. 

Stop worrying about perfection and just worship.  Be authentic. It’s amazing to see people’s reaction to someone who is truly authentic.  People just worship full on. Some of my best worship experiences have been, if I’m playing, when I feel completely unprepared because I just go in and worship.  I just give it to God and play for him.  I’m not worried if I didn’t play everything perfect.  I worshiped.  If worship leaders just worshiped instead of stressing over details, amazing things could happen.

So when will something change? 

When we will stop putting on a show for the “audience” and worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ?

(Before I say anything, the following thoughts are not all necessarily the thoughts and beliefs or North Point Community Church, or it’s partners, staff or attenders.)
Ok, so here are my thoughts on this. I agree with the premise of this post. I think that we need to realize what true worship is, and understand that when all the fluff his gone, it is about worshiping a holy and sovereign God, and being fully vulnerable to him and what his will is for us. 
But here is something else I am thinking… What does the future of worship look like for non-believers? Now, I know what you’re saying… You’re probably saying “Josh… Are you hearing yourself? Non-believers can’t worship!!” Well, I partly agree with that. I believe that they can’t experience true intimacy with the true living God in their sinful state, but the truth is that we all ascribe worth to something. It could be our job, money, or even some sort of addiction, but we all worship something. Coming full circle back to the question, what DOES the future of worship look like for non-believers. Allow me to give my thoughts. 
I go to a church that is very heavy on professionalism, production, and the fluff, if you want to call it that. It’s not that we put emphasis on it, but we do use it as a tool to create irresistible environments where people can bring their unchurched friends. We’re not seeker sensitive, seeker driven, seeker aware, or seeker anything for that matter. We kinda can’t stand that wor, seeker, because if you think about it, none of us really seek God in our sinful state, he seeks us. Dead people don’t try and figure out how to come back to life. So, anyways, our environments are designed to allow everyone to have a unforgettable experience on Sunday mornings. For believers, that could be great worship. For the “non-churched,” that could be good music. Either way, it reaches both. The believers walk away saying that that really experienced the presence of God. Non-believers walk away often saying that they liked the service and want to come back, some even saying that they can’t explain why. (I would say that’s the work of the holy spirit.)
We put this high emphasis on excellence because we feel that God is honored when put our best foot forward. When we are prepared, the spirit of God works. Does he need our help? Absolutely not. But funny enough, the holy spirit often shows up when we have done our homework, and the left hand knows what the right hand is doing. 
With all of that being said, what could we do differently? Is it bad to approach worship from an all-inclusive standpoint? Is it wrong that while good music can be used to connect to God for some people, while for others it’s just good music, and a sweet environment? And while we’re on it, does the future of worship only include music? Is it possible to have another form of self expression that we can use to connect with God that could unite hundreds, thousands, or even millions to a new level of worship?

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