Just What IS Worship?

On Tuesday I had a long talk with the guy in charge of my church’s music ministry. I vaguely expressed my concerns that in an effort to be a place for the unchurched to feel comfortable we were limiting the ability of long-time believers to really enjoy a time of worship through music.

Case in point: singing Green Day songs during the service.

On Tuesday Christopher said that he is hoping to have more secular music during the service as a way to appeal to non-Christians attending the church. I immediately got my hackles up because I had just finished reading a very disturbing article about a megachurch in Arizona (must be a NYT subscriber to read) that is basically just a big mall where you can hear some sermons on positive thinking and stress-free living.

I told Christopher that I felt it was important that Sunday morning services be for both non-Christians and believers alike and that worship through music was a big part of that. Christopher explained that the Worship Nights that the church has, the first Wednesday of every month, are set aside specifically for believers to come together for singing, taking communion, praying and spending time with God and other believers. He also said that the small groups that meet are a way of worshipping in a more intimate atmosphere.

That’s all well and good, and I appreciated my conversation with Christopher on Tuesday night, but I still can’t help but think that it’s important that believers have a way of worshipping through music on Sunday mornings as well as during Worship Night or Small Groups. And I don’t think that singing really powerful songs like “Facedown” (my personal favorite) will turn off an unchurched person visiting our church. Just like I don’t think singing “Blvd. of Broken Dreams” by Green Day is going to empower a Christian to think about his spiritual life.

It’s a tough call – and one I’m struggling with since I’m in the band, one I struggle with despite my conversation with Christopher. I really enjoy being in the band – we perform well together, practices are a blast, and I love singing. But what happens when we sing songs to the detriment of the ability to worship?

Facedown Lyrics:

Welcomed in to the courts of the King
I’ve been ushered in to Your presence
Lord, I stand on Your merciful ground
Yet with every step tread with reverence

And I’ll fall facedown
As Your glory shines around
Yes, I’ll fall facedown
As Your glory shines around

Who is there in the heavens like You?
And upon the earth, who’s Your equal?
You are far above, You’re the highest of heights
We are bowing down to exalt You

So let Your glory shine around
Let Your glory shine around
King of glory, here be found
King of glory

My Signature

7 comments

  1. Jaynee – you know that I agree with you. Even Willow Creek (arguably the mother of all seeker churches) uses all Christian music in all of their services. I’ve had many new Christians say that part of what made them make the decision to follow Jesus was the music they heard in church. And even the most secular visitor expects to hear spiritual music in church – because they know they are at CHURCH.

    Parachurches, like Young Life, are not CHURCH. And I feel that secular music can be used effectively by those kinds of ministries. But I believe that the CHURCH is set apart and should act like it.

    My 2 cents.

  2. Just wanted to say that, having been in the ministry (husband and father both pastors at one point) I agree wholeheartidly with you.

    I enjoyed reading and look forward to coming back again!

    -H

  3. I am in total agreement with you as well. When churches move away from their main purposes; worship, praise, prayer, teaching, service and pastoring, and replace those purposes with seeker focused “worship,” the God of OUR worship is the one who has been replaced… We who are more mature Christians then have to find another place where we can worship in Spirit and in Truth while also being fed. In such an environment we catch on fire with the desire to serve and reach others for the Gospel. Without that environment, the church becomes a nice “social club” and we who were once alive, die spiritually. Sadly, it happened to our last church and is a story we are hearing too often.

  4. Denis, yes we have sung “Facedown” but I fear that the day will come that we WON’T be singing songs like that on Sunday mornings because they may be “a bit much” for the unchurched.

  5. I enjoyed your post. Made me think. I have attended what could be called one of the largest “seeker” churches in the country for 7+ years here in Texas. Our church plays secular music at times, but I have always found the choices to compliment the overall message/theme of the service. And it certainly isn’t every week. There’s an article on my church’s web site you may find interesting, called Creative Tension — especially the part where it talks about music choices. http://www.fellowshipchurch.com/FCWeb/aboutfellowship/press/pressstory.aspx?pgId=188&PressID=65

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