This is why I write

Walking into the dimly lit sanctuary, I find myself coughing from the fog that is descending upon the space. Colored lights are set dramatically at different angles on stage. I hear someone comment behind me, ?Is this worship or a Pink Floyd concert?? They laugh at their joke, but I am uneasily asking myself the same thing.

Worship begins. Low mellow music fills the air for a few measures while the stage lights slowly bring the band into view. Electric guitar riffs blare through the speaker directly over my head and catchy drumbeats cause everyone to rise to their feet. The sound of hands clapping fills my ears. The worship leader takes center stage and shouts, ?WE WORSHIP YOU JESUS!? The congregation roars in approval.

I stand alone in the crowd, feeling like I?m being swallowed. Tears prick my eyes, but these are not the tears of gratefulness that I used to offer in worship. These are tears of frustration. I feel no worshipfulness. I feel empty.

?God,? I whisper to myself, ?Where are You??

I know He?s probably here somewhere, but I can?t seem to find Him. I can?t connect in worship anymore. As soon as the music starts, the wall goes up. I try to connect, but most feeble attempts are just that and nothing more. The words mean nothing and become a jumble on the PowerPoint screen. The band soon becomes nothing more than loud noise. It all starts to seem so showy.

So instead of worshipping, I find myself becoming cynical and critical. I stop singing. I judge every typo on the screen (Your all I want? Really? Who?s proofing these things?) or missed note on stage. I walk away wondering what the point of it all was.

It wasn?t always like this. I used to thrive on worship. I am a vocalist, and used to be one of those peppy singers at the front of the stage. If I wasn?t on stage, I was in the front row with hands raised high to the heavens.

So where did this disconnect begin happening? Why has it happened? Is there something to this, a lesson to be learned? Do I have a message to share with the church or simply gunk to work through in my own life? This is why I will write; to discover all that is going on under the surface. I will sort out the good and hopefully sift away the bad.? I will learn as I go and maybe share something of value.

Hopefully I will be able to look at worship in a whole new light and emerge on the other side of this vast valley.

12 Replies to “This is why I write”

  1. I have totally experienced all of the same feelings before Jamie. I think worship and music production that happens at church have become too interchangeable in today’s society. Worship is giving God the honor and glory (and obviously your attention). Sometimes that is through music-sometimes that is through your writing, even through just being quiet and enjoying God’s creation.

  2. Love these words and have so been there. My current favorite times of worship are alone with God, usually outside seeing what He has given me there — talking to Him, enjoying His presence. The smoke machines, the words on the screen (including the typos that drive me BONKERS), the oh-so-earnest faces of those that are worshiping are precious… but not for me. I love hearing your heart…

  3. I think I have read all of your blog posts now, and every one of them makes me think of this one thing: I go to an old-school Southern Baptist church where we sing old Hymns with only a piano or sometimes pre recorded music for our “special music”. Once a month I play drums in our “Night of Praise”, where we do modern worship music. Occasionally, if my National Guard duties keep me around Jackson too late on a Sunday evening, I like to visit the church I went to as a little kid. It is a Southern Baptist Church as well, but they have a big, rock-concert type worship service complete with colored lights and screaming guitars.

    Being that I’m a drummer and into technology, I often wished my church was like that. Except on one of my visits the the “rock concert” Church, my wife and I were standing there feeling very odd because every one was raising their hands to this very repetitive music. We sort of looked at each other as if to say… not doing that. I thought to myself, “are all these people raising their hands because everyone else is, or are they genuinely worshiping?” Suddenly, it felt empty. I wanted piano and “Victory in Jesus”. Not that either approach to worship is better than the other, but I felt that they were missing the point.

    I still long to rock out for Jesus, but I think that it is very easy to turn it from worship into, “look how awesome I can play”. I know that’s how I was when I first started playing drums at Night of Praise. I had to detach my ego from the drums. I think we all have to be careful not to turn worship into performance, and I bet that’s what is happening in a lot of places.

    Don’t know why… just wanted to share that.

    1. Thanks for sharing it! One of the reasons I started this blog was to make sure I wasn’t alone. Because many times standing there in the crowd where everyone’s hands are raised, I felt like I was.
      I relate to the longing to “rock out for Jesus,” but have had trouble reconciling it with the disconnect. I have a post in mind about the worship vs. performance. It’s a fine line.

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