But posted here first :)
Here we are in 2012, well into the 21st Century and as we have launched a number of worship courses at Alphacrucis College, I can’t help but consider where we’re headed in our corporate expressions of worship. With the amount of time our churches regularly give each meeting to worshipping together, we continuously affirm the significance of this topic, but do we give it the kind of thoughtful consideration that is equal to its weight? Great music, combined with a real sense of God’s presence is always appealing and every Senior Pastor I’ve met or worked with would like more of both! My observation though, is that great music is amazingly subjective. You may love “Country”, you may hate it. You may love “Hip Hop”, you may hate it. Great music is not objective. We may all be able to appreciate great musical skill, but even then, we regularly subjugate skill to style with our music purchases. Now, here’s the great challenge... we attempt what no radio station on the planet would attempt each and every service, we play a particular style of music that we hope will connect with the majority (from the 9yr old to the 99yr old). This is not difficult... it’s impossible! Even amongst similar ages, there will be a significant divergence of musical preferences. So, there’s no way around it, the musical side of worship is ALWAYS going to be too loud for some, too soft for others; too fast for some, too slow for others; too new for some, too old for others. It is inevitable. What’s the solution? There really isn’t one! Someone has to make a call on the style of music that will be utilised in corporate worship. I suggest that as long as we recognise the subjective nature of that call and have considered why we’re using a particular style of music, we’re in a good place. As for God’s presence in our worship, I wish that was objective... however, after many years of leading worship, I have also come to realise that people connect profoundly with God in many different ways; Some in the silence, some in passionately driven worship, some in the intense repetition of parts of songs, some in “free-worship”. How can we help such a wonderful diversity of people connect with God in a meaningful and powerful dimension? Once again, recognising the diversity is a key, appreciating that even your personal preference for sensing God’s presence, is just that, a personal preference. God’s tangible presence will produce fruit, both the miraculous and dynamic fruit of people healed, set free, restored, given hope, encouraged and maybe even people coming on time and engaging in worship as well as the less instantaneous fruit of people wanting to serve, Christians being fruitful where God has placed them, Christians inviting others to experience God’s presence in worship as they do. Do your worship leaders understand these issues? Have you identified with them the dominant musical culture of your community and the flavour of worship that you feel is best going to serve connecting your congregation with God? Do they understand the why behind the what? Why 20 minutes? Why 4-5 songs? Why start with a fast song? Why finish big? Or why finish down? Finally, where are they being trained? This is not some subliminal “send them to AC” message, although of course it would be an honour to help train your worshippers. Rather, I’m aware that so often worship teams are simply (though admirably) fulfilling the relentless requirements of the next service/event. If we encourage and allow them, they can step beyond the responsibilities of the moment and consider the possibilities of where the church is going and how that looks in the corporate worship of their local church and BE the prophetic worshippers that God intends for His church!! Oh what an exciting future awaits us!