Worship: the opening act

This article totally convicted me. Please click the link and read it.

Three things that I pulled out:

1) It scares me that this is happening in churches.

Has worship really become that scripted? Or that manipulative? Is it really that simple to tug on people’s heart strings? Sadly, I know the answer is yes.

Worship has simply become the opening act. It’s a way for the congregation to get “in the worship mood.”

2) It fits with so much of what I am feeling. It explains the disconnect.

If worship is really manipulated and planned out, no wonder my heart can’t connect with it. I’ve been told as a worship leader that I need to do more energetic worship, to encourage the people and make them forget about their bad weeks. I understand the need for this (I feel another post a-brewing for that one), but I prefer meaningful songs that say something and make people think. Not simply peppy. I just can’t connect with peppy.

3) I feel relieved that I am not alone.

I’m not the only worship leader that doesn’t feel worshipful? Hallelujah! There are others that have acknowledged that there is a problem. Instead of continuing ahead in the dysfunction, they’re choosing to step out of the shadows. This worship leader’s honest and raw interpretation of his worship experience is refreshing.

9 Replies to “Worship: the opening act”

  1. Perhaps you need to start attending another type of church alltogether? Don’t lose your faith through all this. Keep praying, it does help!

  2. I like the description (more of a confession really) that the worship experience is often just emotional, and impossible to maintain. Little sigh of relief to read it described that way. My life is not always a “holy, holy, holy” crescendo. And that’s OK.

  3. As the article points out it is very easy to shape an emotional experience through music and lighting. I had my iTunes library on shuffle while I worked today and I noticed that some of the worship music had an emotional effect even though I was not focused on worship at all. When you’ve got people in a big crowded, dark room with loud music who are expecting to feel something, of course many will have an emotional experience whether people are trying to manipulate them or not.

    The thing I think I find most troubling about the confusing of (possibly manipulated) emotional experience with worship and God’s presence is the way it sets people and things up as relied upon mediators who can deliver the experience. I got caught up in this as a young Christian. People start to think they need a particular type of music to connect with God so they make a lot of effort to go to the conferences and they buy the CDs to reproduce the experience at home. Particular worship leaders gain a following for being “anointed” at leading people into worship, some obtaining celebrity status. Even being in the right part of the auditorium (usually the front) can be felt to matter. Music styles or conferences or talented worship leaders or many of the other aspects of contemporary worship aren’t necessarily bad things.. However when they become necessary for us to worship, there is a problem. Jesus is the only mediator between us and God. If anything or anyone else becomes the determining factor in whether we can or will worship God, we’ve probably aren’t worshiping God but are really worshiping the person or thing.

    1. Really good observations. There are certain worship leaders that I used to like that I have a bit of an aversion to now, and I think it’s because they’ve obtained that “star status.” You’re right; those things involved in worship aren’t bad, but have become “manipulated” a bit.

  4. Thanks for sharing!

    I’ve been singing on our church’s worship team for over a decade now (wow, I sound old!), and I’ve also been singing in choirs since I was ten. And I’ve learned a lot about music and performance. Fortunately, most of it from people who believe *everything* we do can be worship.

    I think our problem is that we’ve got it backwards. We’re relying on music to put us in the mood to worship God. We ought to look to God as the reason to make music! Likewise, we keep trying to base our spiritual lives on emotion instead of navigating our emotions based on God’s truth. It’s like trying to chase a halo instead of the thing that *makes* the halo. Once you’re talking to God regularly, and reading the Bible regularly, and have got a little theology to stand on, worship in music becomes an outpouring of something you already have. And then the style and the script don’t matter anymore.

    I’ve been onstage plenty of times when my heart wasn’t in it. The cure was not to focus on the music, it was to connect with God. That’s when the music started making sense.

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