Before I get into the purpose of this post I need to clarify a few things.
First of all life for me the past year has been very busy. Learning a new job that requires all of me for at least 45 hours a week leaves me with no bandwidth at all to maintain this site or any of my social media the way I would like so I have been posting articles written by others that I think are interesting. Also I’m sorry for not responding to every comment I wish I could.
The primary purpose of these posts are to start a conversation.
Recently I posted an article entitled “Who Will Lead Through The Church Disaster” by Randy Bohlender. Over the weekend I posted “Are We Headed For A Crash? Reflections On The Current State of Evangelical Worship” and “Why They Don’t Sing On Sunday Anymore“. I’ve also got coming up in my buffer app “Why Men Have Stopped Singing In Church“
This morning I was looking through my Facebook news feed and a friend posted something to the effect of “Stop posting negative things about the way we worship”. I’m not assuming he is responding to me specifically because there does seem to be a lot of articles about what is wrong with worship. Today I got comments on “Why They Don’t Sing On Sunday Anymore” and while looking through my news feed for something else I found “What Is The Real Problem With Todays Evangelical Worship“
Looks like I’ve stumbled into a conversation.
Here are my thoughts.
Since 1982 I’ve been in this arena. Reading and searching for wisdom from all kinds of people. When I first started there was very little being written on contemporary worship. Now everywhere I look someone has an opinion on it. Some good; much of it not so good. I’m also a part of several online worship communities from communities like Worship The Rock to groups within LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+. Frankly I’m saddened by the bulk of the questions and answers being posted.
One post asked the question “What do I do with people who complain the songs are too high when they don’t know how to sing?”. Others are talking about “At what point do I have enough musicians on my team?”, or “Our worship team is full how do I tell people no”. I even saw a post by someone who I highly respect. A staff worship pastor, songwriter, teacher, and mentor say. “As I get older I want to be purposeful about raising up the next generation”. I’ve commented on this here so I won’t go over it again. These are just a few of the many threads that break my heart.
Every problem is a leadership problem.
I’m not saying every problem is caused by leadership but I am saying if your people are distracted, not passionate, or don’t understand what you’re doing its your job to lead them and lead them with a pastor’s heart.
I found “Misplacing Charisma: Where Contemporary Worship Lost Its Way” on a Methodist website that is spot on.
Here is the money quote:
What’s missing? The answer is found in looking at what happened when “praise and worship” was adopted by mainline denominations. During the 1990’s many mainline congregations began to import the songs, sounds, and some of the sights (like hand raising and clapping) of the praise and worship style. In many cases, what got lost was the robust pneumatology behind this approach to worship. In other words, many mainline churches brought the form, but didn’t bring the theology of praise and worship into their congregations.
I hope this is not your problem. I hope you understand your role as a prophet, pastor, teacher, and theologian when you stand in front of your congregation. If not get this book.
May I also suggest a few practical solutions.
- Have the correct EQ.
- Have the correct volume. Sometimes its necessary for people to not hear themselves other times its necessary that they do. It depends on the size of the group.
- Have songs in the correct keys. If you’re doing everything in the keys of B and C I wonder if your leading worship.
- Leave the lights up so we can see people’s faces and lead them in worship.
- Keep your eyes open and connect with people.
- Pick songs that are congregational. If every song in your set list is from KLOVE or have octave jumps in them I wonder if your leading worship.
Bottom line, stop blaming the congregation for not worshiping. It’s up to us to lead them and teach them. Bring them lovingly into the presence of God. Meet them where they are and take them someplace.
Maybe the reason there are so many articles about what’s wrong with worship is because something is wrong with worship. 10 years ago there was lots of criticism of contemporary worship that was based on style not substance but when the congregation stops participating its time for us to start asking why.
Let the conversation continue.