I met last night with a friend who helps lead worship at our church. We talked for about an hour and change about our worship service; all the negatives and positives about it, and how the negatives far out-weigh the positives.
It's funny how worked up we (Christians) get over worship. I find myself getting worked up all the time. Most people get worked up because they want to know why the worship at their church isn't like the worship at that other church where the service was "deeper" because people were dancing in the aisles. Or they get worked up because they want only traditional hymns. Some people get worked up because they want to know why their worship band doesn't sound like Michael W. Smith's band.
Mostly, I get worked up because it hurts me to see people arguing over things that have nothing to do with actual worship.
Last night, we didn't talk about bringing in new songs. We didn't talk about adding instruments. We didn't talk about who's better; Chris Tomlin or Matt Reddman. We didn't talk about rocking out the service more to make it "seeker" friendly.
Instead we talked about the beauty of the older hymns. We talked about the very few new songs that have the kind of depth those older hymns have, that have made them endure for centuries. We talked about how great our worship would be if it wasn't so concentrated on musical styles, and more on praising God through music, prayer, and reading of scripture. We talked about removing instruments; how if people want to go to a rock concert, they'll buy tickets to see U2, not go to church on Sunday. We spoke of meditation, reflection and contemplation.
Most importantly, we spoke of Sunday morning being a time where people can come and worship their Father; not a time where we play the right or "cool" music to attract people to come to church.
Worship should be a beautiful and excellent offering made to a living and gracious God; not a "we're trying to be cool/relevant/real production selling God to increase membership in a church. And I know that the latter is not the intent of most sincere believers and worship leaders. But, it sure does come across like that sometimes.
Can we simplify worship? Can we make it so the true seeker comes to church and is drawn in by the authenticity of the worship in this place on a Sunday morning, and not the "peppy" music? Can we worship God in such a way that a person who has been attending church for 20 years can suddenly realize that he/she is standing before the Throne of God? Can we strip away the dead arguments of hymns vs. contemporary, raise your hands or kneel, dance or sit?
Can we worship, in spite of our pettiness?