March 26, 2006

Worship

We had a worship retreat this Saturday, for all those involved with worship for Sunday service at our church. This includes all instrumentalists, vocalists and audio/visual people. It's the first time we've all come together. I didn't know a lot of people and it was cool to get to know all these faces that I've seen a million times.

They invited a worship team from Churchill Heights Baptist church. They were mostly caucasian, although they said their congregation was very multicultural.

Everyone knows that I love to sing. I've been gifted with a good voice, either by God or be circumstances God created for this gift to be passed down to me (my parents are both amazing singers). I used to play piano, flute, and I can play guitar. My brother is not a great singer but he's extremely talented musically -- he can play violin, piano, saxophone, guitar.

When I help to lead worship, I am a vocalist, either the male lead or singing harmony (tenor). I think I'm good at it -- I can pull out harmonies on the fly, even for songs I've never even heard before. It's a gift I think that just comes from playing various instruments and having sung in several choirs or listening to a lot of music. So I just as well assume that this gift is from God, and thus I should use it to serve our church.

I guess what I really wanted to share about is this thing that I've been struggling with for some time and it's basically hit a point where I can no longer continue leading worship. I've been approached by some people saying that I look very serious when I'm up on stage. They say I should smile, try to look like I'm having lots of fun. That, if I do this, it will encourage others to sing louder or allow them to experience a better worship time.

First of all, I completely disagree with this entire philosophy. If people need to be coerced into worshipping God feverently, or excitedly, or enthusiastically, then they are not worshipping God. They're being manipulated into worshipping -- what they are feeling -- happiness, excitement, uplifting -- is not Spirit-led, but human led. It's manufactured worship. To me, that's all wrong.

But getting back to my struggles -- this is the direction that my church wants to go. They want us to smile, look happy, be animated. I cannot worship in this way. Don't get me wrong, I have been happy, I have been animated, at certain times, but it has been spirit-led -- not because everyone else was doing it. So for me to do all that, I am basically being asked to put on a show.

I can't put on a show. I think it's a mockery to God to put on a show before Him, standing up there on the altar and "acting". This isn't the drama team, it's the worship team. The song is called "Here I Am To Worship", not "Here I Am to Jump and Dance So That Others Will Do So Too". But mostly, I can't worship if they want me to act.

Some of you will say that because I'm *leading*, I have to lead by example -- I have to put on a face because that affects other peoples' ability to experience worship. That, because I'm leading, others will look up and think if he's not smiling, then I can't worship properly because he doesn't look like he's having very much fun up there. There are people who are visually influenced, and will notice these things. Preachers will often put on a show, by lowering or yelling their message, to emphasize certain points.

Personally, I rarely if ever, pay any attention to the worship leader, although lately I have been, for the simple reason that I wanted to see if they were smiling. Broken Walls, for instance, didn't smile. People in the sanctuary were dancing around in the aisles, bouncing up and down, holding hands and having a grand ol' time and John Maracle (leader of Broken Walls) never cracked a smile. But then again, why should he?

But again I can understand T3C's point of view, because our congregation for the most part, is deadpan. My thinking is they want to try this because they figure that people will get a better experience -- or rather, people will break out of their shells if they see the leaders doing it.

Anyway, what it all comes down to is whether or not I can put on a show while also being able to worship God.

I can't, so I am taking a break from worship leading until I can figure this out.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

COUPLE THINGS....AS A WORSHIP LEADER YOU SPEND ALOT OF TIME BEFORE GOD FACE DOWN, AND PRACTICING THE MUSIC AND IT NATURALLY FITS THAT BY THE TIME THE SERVICE ROLLS AROUND YOU HAVE ALREADY PRAISED GOD AND NOW YOUR READY TO GO DEEPER INTO WORSHIP. THIS MIGHT EXPLAIN WHY YOU DONT FEEL THE NEED TO ACT EXCITED BEFORE THE PEOPLE. IT MIGHT ALSO EXPLAIN WHY YOUR CONGREGATION IS DEADPAN....THEY NEED TO BE INSPIRED AND IT IS YOUR JOB TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THERE LIFELESSNESS AND INTO A VICTORIOUS PLACE BEFORE HIS THRONE. NO NEED TO PUT ON A FALSE FRONT...JUST PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES. IF YOU WALKED IN AND FELT DISJOINTED OR OUT OF TOUCH WITH GOD - WHAT WOULD YOU WANT THE LEADER TO DO TO BRING YOU UP? DO THAT!!

JAMES MCKEW
MINDEN, NEVADA, USA

eBrian said...

This is something I'm definitely struggling with and have been giving it a lot of thought.

I appreciate your comments and suggestions. I have replied to your email. God bless!

Dan McGowan said...

You have hit on something huge, deep and wide... seriously.

I am struggling here, trying to keep this short - hopefully I will make sense...

I have been leading music and worship in churches for over 30 years... started way back near the end of the Jesus Movement... and I've seen a lot of changes.

One of the things that has not changed (unfortunately) is the never ending nagging and harassment of well-intentioned members of the congregation or church staffs who just don't "get it" regarding what REAL worship is all about...

God has called me to encourage and challenge we who lead worship towards something more authentic and Biblically based - the type of worship you are talking about.

In the process, the worship prophets among us get hammered - but that's because something is happening much deeper with us...

My prayer is that you would truly seek the Lord on this and, if you still feel you need to "retire" from leading worship, then do so. But see if God might be calling you to stick it out so that you can be a part of the next Great Awakening that I believe we are just now stepping into...

eBrian said...

Thanks Dan.

Maybe I should read your book!