Last time I went to group I couldn’t worship. This wasn’t a simple difference in music (I actually tend to think the band is very good), or a situation of my mood not being right or "into" the experience. It was something else. Group has become a concert. I thought I was at the Showbox — everything from the lights to the stage was focused on what was going on up front. I couldn’t worship to that.
Now please don’t misunderstand me, this is not an attack on group (despite what it may look like). Rather, I want to pose a question about whether or not we’ve spent so much time making Jesus "cool" and "relevant" that we’ve lost sight of the true purpose of worship. Think I’m wrong? Why do we need "cool," "ambient" lighting? Why do we need "awesome" guitar riffs? Why do we need group itself to be the "cooler version of chapel"? At what point did we decide that some songs were "uncool" and certain worship leaders (David Crowder Band, Shane and Shane) are "in" and some (Hymns) are "out"? Why do we stand up when we are told to rather then being on our knees? Why do we clap? Why are we more concerned with how good the band sounds or how cool the PowerPoint is, or why do we judge how good a night was based on whether we liked the selected songs or not? Do we even realize what the words say or mean?
Listen to what Gary Thomas says about this topic in his book "Sacred Pathways": "It amazes me how casually I can sing songs of deep, almost heroic commitment. It’s as if I think, ‘As long as I’m singing, the words I say don’t really matter.’ God knows it’s just a song. While my mind wanders I promise to bow before the Lord, to proclaim his name to the ends of the earth, and to go so far as to die to express my faith. Yet these words may be sung with scarcely more emotion than I feel when I’m ordering a hamburger. How often do we Christians ‘take the Lord’s name in vain’ during our Worship? It matters to God if we lie, even if we’re singing, and even if everybody around us is singing the same thing. Music can make us feign a commitment that just isn’t there, causing us to become callous, insincere believers."
Wow. How true are those words? How many times do I sing songs with my eyes closed, hands raised or clapping while I’m thinking about homework or spring break or a thousand other things. How many times do I stand up and sing only to fit in with what everyone else is doing, even when I have so much on my mind I should be in my seat praying instead? We clap for Jesus, give shout outs for Jesus and rock out for Jesus, but do we ever humble ourselves before Jesus? What is it about times of silence that we are so afraid of? A few weeks ago during one group we had an opportunity to be silent and reflect on what Matthew Koenig had just spoken on, and I though to myself, "finally a chance to reflect and pray in group," but do you know how long the silence was? Roughly a minute, followed by music to "set the mood," which ended up with the band launching into a song that really had no relevance to what we were asked to reflect on. Of course at that point everyone stood up like we are conditioned to and raised our hands singing the next song.
Worship is more than just simply singing songs, but I have a feeling that along the way we have left those other ways behind us somehow. And why did we do that? Are we more concerned with humbling ourselves before the one who was violently and brutally murdered or more concerned with making sure we are doing what everyone around us is doing? I’m convinced that if we were completely aware of the reality of the One we worship we would be on our knees and faces in embarrassment, guilt, shame and humility daily rather then "rocking out." Don’t misunderstand me again and think that I’m saying that all worship should be hymns and no instruments or anything like that. There isn’t anything wrong with a good David Crowder song, but think about what our attitude is when we worship. After all, what do you think we’ll be doing in heaven when we encounter Christ? Jumping around doing hand motions and giving JC a big high five? I tend to think we’ll be falling flat on our faces. When did worship become more about image than reflection and praise?
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Title: Group looks too much like a concert | Author: Nick Waltz | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2005-03-09 | Internal ID: 4415