further thoughts on worship: art vs. propaganda

I definitely have a few reflections on this clip, but you need to watch it first, so here it is. :)

Art - reaching for the truth. Propaganda - pre-fabricated experiences.

There is a certain amount of pressure that I feel as a worship leader to "get it right" (which means everyone has a great time, thinks the band rocked, and oh, yeah - they met with God!). I think this pressure comes from three different sources: 1) the people in authority over me; 2) myself; and 3) the people in our congregation - and I think it varies from week to week where I feel it coming from the most... but I also think I feel it from myself quite a bit on a routine basis. There was a time when I really sucked at this - and yet God still used me, I'm sure of it. Now that I'm better at it, there are definitely times when I find myself using that emotional meter - "well, I just wasn't feeling it tonight" - to measure my success (or lack thereof).

I really have no desire to be a part of the "worship industry." I love that there are tools provided through it that help me to grow as a worship leader - books, chord charts, etc. - but I don't love the machinery behind Sunday mornings most days. There's good to it - I know that. But one of the things that's actually on paper for our church in reference to how we do what we do on a Sunday morning is this statement: "Worship should be fun."


Yes, there is most definitely a sense in which joy should pervade our services, because we have a lot to celebrate. But PLEASE, let's not be so happy-go-lucky and upbeat that we enable people to walk in and out of our building with the misnomer that sorrow has no place in our lives. If we're really encountering God, there are going to be moments when repentance (which involves a degree of sorrow) takes a solemn moment - and we need to be okay with the fact that grieving (either for our sin or for something that's just "not the way it was supposed to be") can be as much an act of worship as dancing for joy. And we need to be okay with those quieter moments lasting awhile, and not feel like we have to turn it around and end all positive... well, let me rephrase that - there's a way to end positively that still honors sorrow, that doesn't belittle it.

I don't go to church to have fun. I generally end up having fun, because God's people, for all their idiosyncrasies, are actually pretty cool - but I don't feel like I've failed if I can't use the word "fun" to describe a worship experience. There's something so much more serious about encountering the living God than "fun" really encapsulates....

McLaren's point about doubt is a good one, I think - we're not nearly as comfortable with it as the Bible is, as God is - but surely there's a way to help people ask the questions they need to ask in the context of our services throughout the year, and not just in the 40 darker days of Lent (or in our non-liturgical liturgy, the 4-5 days of it). I don't know exactly how - but I think there's biblical precedent for it - and I think having your service plan be cookie-cutterish from week to week and always having a U-shaped song set (1 upbeat song, 1 medium paced song, 1 slow song, 1 upbeat song again) may not always be the best way. But I could be wrong about that...

Side-note (long but fast-paced rabbit trail of thought I won't even attempt to trace for you) - when I finally do hire on to a church, I want to be the kind of worship leader that gets to lead worship, not singing. There's so much more to this than just song. And I think it's taken me awhile to realize that - but I'm becoming an artist - and everything from lighting to color to stage design to the songs we choose matters. The first thing God did was create an environment for us to live in. I think it would be cool to get a chance to design worship environments that teach people how to live in worship. No matter how they feel.

Just thoughts.

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