There’s a popular article floating around about the current state of modern worship.
Many of the points I would agree with. I’m thankful that Jamie is addressing these hard questions and fostering some great conversations.
But at the same time, I also want to present a perspective that I feel is missing.
None of this is new. None of these problems are new.
I don’t believe we are headed for a worship crash because these conversations and wars have been going on since the church has worshiped together in corporate fashion.
No, we are not headed for a crash. We are going to be OK.
But there is still a major problem.
The Real Problem
The problem with modern worship isn’t the lights.
The problem with modern worship isn’t the writing and singing of original music. Matter of fact, I believe we need more songwriters writing more songs…better songs.
The problem isn’t the dimly lit room.
The problem isn’t the big rock band and creative music.
For starters, let’s consider the alternative. We could install more bright, fluorescent lights in our churches. We could take away the band and have acapella worship or a simple piano.
We could even remove the stage, placing the musicians on the floor with the congregation. We could do away with all creativity in the gathered church.
This may help for a season, but the core issue would remain untouched, unexamined.
What’s the real problem?
Our hearts don’t know their need for Christ. We are not desperate. We are not broken. We don’t approach Sunday with expectant, faith-filled, repentant hearts. We aren’t hungry for Jesus.
I know these are general statements and don’t apply to everyone. But this is more of our problem than what types of tools we use in the worship of God.
I am too satisfied with this world. My eyes are filled with everything but Christ. My heart longs for influence, power, money, and earthly security more than the treasures of heaven. That is my problem. That is our problem.
Pastor Your Creative Expression
So rather than a bashing of the fog machine, let’s repent and look to Jesus. Let’s allow our eyes to be filled with His brightness, his beauty, His truth.
If anything, when done well, music, creativity, lighting, projection, and fog machines can help us visualize the glory of God in new ways. They can help us see what heaven may be like. Heaven will have sights and sounds that are unlike anything we’ve ever imagined.
It’s all how you use these tools, explain these tools, and pastor your creative expression.
Distraction in worship comes from a distracted heart, not from creative ideas. My distracted heart will always look for something or someone to blame rather than facing my own apathy. I see this in myself all the time.
Think about the most inspiring worshiper you know. Believe me, they will love Jesus no matter what form the expression takes.
Is Performance a Problem?
I’m not sure performancism is the problem either. When I go to church, I want to hear from a Pastor who has studied, rehearsed, prayed over, and developed his sermon. His excellent performance of the sermon will help its truth speak louder to all the worshipers.
Same with a worship leader. Sure, I don’t want a worship leader who just performs worship songs for his own glory. I think we can agree we’re not into that. But I do want a worship leader who is conscious of his excellent performance so the gathered church can worship the Savior without distraction.
I don’t think performance is such a bad word. It speaks to caring deeply, preparing fully, and loving your people. But make sure you focus your “preparation” and “performance” on getting people to engage and sing.
We don’t want a room of spectators, though that’s not always a a terrible sign. Spectators may be a sign that your church is reaching unchurched people, which is beautiful!
Worship leaders, it’s about your downright desperation for Jesus and your pastoral care for people that matters.
You can do both of these things with progressive music, fog, lights, and air tight programming. You can also subtract these tools and sing “I Exalt Thee” every weekend and miss the point of loving Jesus and helping other do the same.
Maybe you want to simplify your services for a season, like Jaime suggests. But the most important action step is to fight hard to stay amazed by God. Humble yourself and you’ll be ready to worship come rock show or Bach invention.
It’s all for Him – from Him and to Him and for Him.
Worship Leader, I love you. I care about my church, your church, and the quality of our corporate worship experiences. Let’s continue to keep it real.
This blog article was written by David Santistevan on his blog, http://www.DavidSantistevan.com/. David is the Worship Pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, PA.