Thursday, 19 March 2015

How could you worship more through music and song?

Is a question asked on the lent course we're doing as a church.

The obvious answer is to sing along to worship CDs more often, though I'm not at all convinced that's actually any kind of worship at all. But theology of worship aside, it had me wondering about the sort of music and songs we use in church, and particularly, my part in playing and helping lead worship through what and how I play.

I'd like to let you into a secret - most Christian 'worship' CDs make me feel icky and out of kilter after a while.

Some, usually those recorded at events that are about more than just singing like Stoneleigh bible week etc have the longest legs, possibly because the actual intent is about worshipping together. Others, including albums from some very well known, awarded and feted international 'stars' of CCM much less so. The latest album from a certain Irish group that I really badly wanted to like was so loaded with emotional stress and tension that it felt like a needle being pushed into my mind, and I couldn't even listen all the way through first time round.

Maybe it's my fallen, un-redeemed character that needs a bit of the nasty to feel OK?

Over-production, a common problem when people are seeking 'perfection' or 'excellence', doesn't help either, producing a form with nothing to criticise and nothing to inspire either.

So after listening to 'worship' for a while I might bung on some Thin Lizzy or Joe Bonamassa in the car, just to wash away the cloyingness and emotional pressure that seems to come through. It's not that I don't want the presence of God - far from it - because God's presence doesn't come or go for me with the music I'm surrounded by (provded I don't go filling my head with evil). But there's something, rather like cello music, about music from certain 'worship' artists that presses buttons and makes life harder instead of better. And I appreciate that not everyone feels like this, and will love the stuff I can't bear.

So yes, it makes me wonder what I might do differently, or whether it would be more of the same as I presently do? Would I always be under tension and stress, straining, trying, reaching, stretching to touch God as it so often feels from the way the examples I've given, or would I be at peace, relaxed and happy to be in God's presence? For that matter, is it possible not just to be relaxed, at peace and happy, but to be soaring with and enjoying God, of sometimes feeling joy so strong you want to laugh - and that happens too, sometimes.

Probably a good job I'm not playing this Sunday. ;-)



  1. Carol3:05 pm

    Glad it is not just me ... sung worship often leaves me cold. Words like 'open the eyes of my heart' or 'dip my heart in the stream' all really ANNOY me. :) Though sometimes, the the worship leader is actually leading worship by actually worshiping and following after the spirit, I find I can follow the flow and join in and as a book I read once said 'the spirit dances between us'... and those are special and few and far between. For what it was worth, in days back at BCC when we were both there, you were one of the leaders that I found did just that ...

  2. Hi Carol, I suspect there's probably quite a few that don't find worship music completely awesome in varying degrees. I struggle most with the songs that say "I will do this, and I'll never stop" or variations of self-determination. That and lousy, obviously wrong theology that's not just bad poetry.

    On a particular worship leaders forum someone was recently asking about peoples suggestions for a top 100 songs of modern worship music, modern being defined as after as particular Delirious? album. It's not a terrible thing, but it did leave me shaking my head a little.

    There's also a small fear that I'm becoming a grumpy, critical older man, like my grandfather, who struggled so hard to see God at work in things that were different from the things he'd seen God at work in.

  3. I hear you Toni.
    And there is a level of the stuff that is too, smarmy, if that's word I can use. Too sweet, too much "everything coming up roses" sort of thing. The local Christian radio here, (If a radio station can be christian) plays things I can listen to only so long then i need to move along. Sometimes I will listen to it for the good stuff, the stuff that evokes my hearts response and i can worship along. But then they come on with some trite thing that moves me away from God.

    I'm trying to help our people here see that it's not necessarily music that's worship. (they tend to think that pretty deeply) Just thinking of the disciples in the boat after Jesus calmed the storm and they knelt down and worshipped him.

    But I've been thinking too how worship music is bing lost in the little churches and gatherings because the understanding of Worship has to do with bands and quality and production values that simply make it undoable for the little places of Worship. When just a guitar or piano and a good worshipper can lead us to God...

    Too many ideas running around my brain Toni, but I'm nervous were "Worship" will end up.

    Have a great weekend guy. :)

  4. Good ideas my friend.

    For the little places I'd probably encourage spoken adoration as well as singing. That seems a challenge for many, but it's very much like stepping back, taking a look at God (maybe in their own lives or in the bible) and then speaking out the good things they see. It also means that they can get to effectively write their own 'songs' of praise. Some people seem to find this idea of prayer that doesn't involve asking things impossibly hard, which may boil down to those production values again. :-(


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