We May Not Be Deep, But at Least We’re Superficial

aliendrummer.jpegChallenging Some Worship Myths, part 2.

5. They myth that worship equates with emotion. We may not be deep, but at least we’re superficial. When Jesus talked about worshiping in spirit and in truth he didn’t mean emotion (Jn 4:23,24). By spirit he meant the deepest part of your being; the part of you that connects with God. By truth he meant the meat of the Word of God (Jn 17:17). True worshippers worship God in the deepest part of our being which connects to God by means of the meat of the Word of God. The deep things of God (1 Cor 2:10). The whole counsel of God (Ac 20:27). The meat, not just the milk (1 Pe 2:2).

Major premise: immature believers are not capable of truly profound worship. True worship, yes. Real worship, yes. Worship God approves, yes. Profound worship (a profound respect for the manifold nature and ways of God, of which immature believers are ignorant), nope.

Minor premise: immature believers are capable of superficial worship.

loudkid1.jpegConclusion 1: The depth of worship depends on the growth trends of the congregation. The task of leadership is to continually challenge God’s people to “put away childish things” and to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of” Jesus.

Conclusion 2: The quality of music and the depth of worship are two different things. Both are important.

Conclusion 3: The quality of music, which is very important (more below) is no substitute for the spiritual depth of the participants. You can clap till your hands tingle; you can sway with your eyes shut tight; you can stretch your hands toward heaven and weep; you can sing nostalgic songs with the Gaithers or jump real high with Darlene Czech, but that won’t make your worship any deeper. (By the way, I am not criticizing any of these behaviors!)

gaithers.jpeg

It will stimulate your emotions WHICH IS A GOOD THING (surprise!), but it will not substitute for personal spiritual growth, and it will contribute only minimally to that growth.

spurgeonchurch.jpegAll of which is to say that Protestants were right when we moved the PULPIT to the center of the stage and made PREACHING the CENTRAL ACT OF CORPORATE WORSHIP. The musical part of worship has value in itself. I am not denying that. So worship events (i.e., musical events) are fine in and of themselves.

But music’s greatest value (still in the context of corporate worship) is to prepare hearts for the reception of the Word preached. Powerful worship is a one-two punch in which the music serves the Word.

“I magnify my office” (Rom 11:13 KJV). Let’s grow deep!

I aggravate worship leaders. Sorry guys, I love you!

babyfood.jpeg6. The myth of blended worship. Blended worship is like a casserole in which everybody hates at least one ingredient. You love peas; I hate ’em. Fine, throw some in. You hate brussels sprouts. Someone else loves ’em. Throw some of those in too. Then what do you get? We might all choke it down, but we’d rather not.

Blended worship worked for a while (the 80’s and early 90’s) to transition churches out of traditionalism. It was valuable. It was healthy.

But in today’s climate with lots and lots of options, it particularly doesn’t work for younger generations. Blended worship…Gerber’s blended pork and green beans. Same thing. Blended worship is simply another way of saying: FEELS LIKE THE 80’s… or… WE’RE AFRAID TO MAKE A CHOICE.

Does that mean no hymns? Of course not!

Does that mean no choruses of Yes Lord? Of course not! (Double negative means a positive… huh? more next time).

Gotta get the kids to school… more later! I really appreciate you stopping by.

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10 thoughts on “We May Not Be Deep, But at Least We’re Superficial

  1. a bit off topic, but i’d love to hear a message and a subsequent blog discussion on the following two topics…….. forgiveness and unconditional love. i’ve had discussions on these and have found in almost every one, an unexplored, untested view…..i think it hits down into the very nature of what we believe.

  2. Okay, help me out with this one. I lead a Men’s bible study on Wednesday nights, and contrary to what everyone told me, it is working? We have between 20 and 30 men a night, and I made an early decision not to include singing into this time of worship. I have attended other men’s bible studies in the past, and they would include singing together. It seemed like we were forcing it and the only guy enjoying it was the one with the guitar. The rest of us, all four of us, looked like we were trying to remember the words to the national anthem at a local sporting event, and we felt like we were the only ones singing it in the whole stadium, and, of course, we would feel like everyone was staring at us… If you really want to see a men’s bible study clear out, raise your hands and sing, followed by the dreaded hand holding prayer. (Talk about your sweaty hands.)

    Here was my solution, honestly, without giving it much thought. NO SINGING AND NO HAND HOLDING AT THE MENS BIBLESTUDY. I believe it has been a part of the equation that has made this group work. It is a collection of men who love to fish, hunt, race cars, et cetera, and frankly no one has asked to lead the group in worship yet. Don’t figure? I have been contemplating how to handle worship for this group in the future. We do play KLOVE type music on the radio before we start, but, frankly, it is just background music.

    Here is my observation, open for discussion. I have never been to a successful men’s bible study, forget about Promise Keepers, it is an event where men seemed to enjoy singing. What I have noticed about our group is a different kind of joyful noise. In the time that would normally be filled with singing in a service, I hear men talking, laughing, and sharing with one another. Twenty five men gathering to study Gods Word, all talking at once, in a garage, creates a lot of noise. I often have to yell just to get the guys to be quiet so I can open in prayer. I wonder if God considers that noise joyful? I know these men aren’t singing, but I’ve heard what they are talking about, and I think that buzz created by these men gathered for worship is probably music to God’s ears. I hope so anyway. I also know that these men may never have played guitar, but they have fired there engines, raced across lakes at 70mph, fired 100s of rounds of ammunition, ran “quad runners” across church carpet and just made noise in general. Is this joyful noise? To them it is… I also have noticed another noise that I think is joyful to Gods ear, silence. When I say “Men, let’s open in prayer” they all fall silent immediately. I think that silence is a joyful noise, when it comes from noisy men. Do I need to change anything, or just leave well enough alone?

    Sorry if this gets in twice, I didn’t think it submitted

  3. Hey, when did you change the byline to “The perfect pastor and his flawless family”? And you call ME sarcastic? You win.

  4. Hmm… You and Vaughn Roberts (“True Worship”) would definitely be on the same page about worship not being about emotion – I wonder if you’d like that book… I’m with y’all on the ABOUT part.

    But, as one of those passionate worship-leader types you reference, I find myself peeved by perspectives which assume that engaging with emotion is immature or (worse) inauthentic JUST BECAUSE emotions are involved. I think there’s a narrow path/fine line to be navigated here.

    Bottom line: in clearly noting (duly noted) that emotion is not the point, let’s not dog on emotion. (And I don’t feel you have here). Relating with our awesome Creator day to day, singing of His ‘greater-than-words’ attributes SHOULD engage our emotions. I know it’s not ABOUT feeling something – and there are dangers in believing we always have to (feel something). BUT, on the other hand, if my emotions are NEVER EVER stirred by the depth of truly worshipping in spirit (the core of my being) and truth (the meat of God’s word), I might have cause to question whether the core of my being (NOT the core of other’s beings) is really engaged. Emotion doesn’t (by definition) equal ‘show’. I’m just sayin’… 😉

  5. “Music’s greatest value is to prepare hearts for the Word preached.” Umm, have you noticed the Word you (or at least your worship team) are singing? [You’re probably resting your voice, understandably so.] As one who pays a lot more attention to the lyric than to the music, I find it crazy-making when people go on about the shallowness of contemporary Christian music.

  6. Hi Janet: One of the very FIRST things I notice about the music IS the words. Shallow words – I don’t like it! Repetitive nonsense – I don’t like it either. Again, that’s so relative, probably answered by Dr. G’s statement about the different ways mature and immature believers participate in the worship process. (Probably difficult for others to figure out for someone else, as per what V said.)

    I just finished listening to the WOW Hits 2008 and it is way, WAY beyond me how some of these songs can be described at “hits.” Yuck! Words are too general and spiritually shallow. (Of course, in my opinion.) However, on the same CDs are fantastic songs that reach the very depth of souls with praise, adoration, petition, reverence, etc. ( some with “riveting guitars!!”)

    It does bother me a tad we are focusing on the musical part of worship so much with this entry and comments. Blended worship – is that a combination of old/young, male/female, Jewish/Gentile, free/slave, or just hymns and choruses?? You left us all hanging when you went to take the kids to school!!

  7. Bill says…”Powerful worship is a one-two punch in which the music serves the Word.”

    Louis Giglio says…”For those of us called to be lead worshippers, we must keep feeding our sheep a solid and profound diet of the Word of God – lest they die.”

    Check out his devotional here:
    http://www.worshiptogether.com/bibleresources/bibleStudy.aspx?iid=215757
    (Louis Giglio is head of Passion, the record label for Crowder, Tomlin, etc.)

    Janet and Jean, Amen! to your comments about shallow, repetitive lyrics in worship songs. Here’s a link to a “Mad Libs” style worship song-writing page:
    http://archives.wittenburgdoor.com/archives/madlibs.html

    All, finally, I do agree with V… let’s not throw out emotion and passion. If it’s just about the words, then why bother singing? Why did David dance? There is something about music that engages more of our mind, body and spirit than intellectual pursuits alone. We were created in God’s image, and I suspect that musicality somehow reflects that image. In the OT, praise is often directed toward God in an artistic, musical way. And, as in all spiritual endeavors, the object of the praise is key…and our capacity to worship, live for, love and obey God is a function of our spiritual maturity. As worship leaders, we must then 1: nurture that spiritual growth that increases our capacity (by the Word and prayer), and 2: create an environment of praise, suitable for the highest capacity praisers in the congregation (Those who are willing and able to fully engage their whole being).
    B

  8. Amen to you, Bob G! You sum and clarify so very well. Thanks!

    I’ll check out the reference sites later. (This is so interesting to me to get all this information. Makes my brain kinda sore, though.)

  9. Great links, Bob.
    Yeah, Tony… Go Bears! That’s true worship!

    Dave M… for some reason, your comment got filtered out by spam filters. I’ll rescue it ASAP!

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