A friend of mine tweeted something the other day that caught my attention.
“Anyone else concerned that congregations in modern worship have become observers instead of participants/singers? People just stand & stare”
Then another friend who is a worship leader retweeted it with an enthusiastic “yes!”
I don’t have any issues with the question or the answer that these two men gave. I know them both and what they really want is to see people having intimate moments with God. But it did make me consider a few things about worship and how we perceive people’s actions during worship.
1. A healthy, evangelistic church will have quite a bit of “standing and staring."
Demonstrative worship is the result of a life that is filled with the Holy Spirit. Although a talented worship leader could probably convince people to do the “away, away, away, away, away”s in Hillsong’s “Go” that would sound like a European soccer match right before the riot, I am not sure that is a sign of health. In fact, a church that is full of fully engaged worshippers either has a fake congregation or a evangelism problem.
Worship with a lot of people who are not singing is a sign of a healthy church with large number of people who are far from God, who have been drawn towards him, but are not in love with him yet.
2. Sometimes we are asking people to make out with God too soon.
There were always a few people in high school who had no shame when it came to PDA. They would make out in middle of class with a boyfriend of three minutes. Those people are now worship leaders. (JUST JOKING!) Actually, those people are now mature adults who have learned to control themselves but will probably be drawn to a public demonstrative worship (PDW) a little sooner than your average accountant or Marine.
Most people are uncomfortable with PDA, even sloppy wet kisses of God. Worship leaders who push people to get get comfortable with their PDW too quickly need to examine their motivations.
Is it because having that energy come back at you from the crowd makes you feel like a rock-star?
Or is it because you truly want to see people have moments with God?
I think for most worship leaders, it’s the latter with an unhealthy dose of the former (just like this pastor who likes a few amens when he preaches to puff my ego). (BTW, Brad Hambrick has a GREAT article on this subject and the how and why of demonstrative worship.
3. Worship leaders need to become worshiper pastors.
I know this is easy semantics but I hope it can be more. Worship leaders lead people in worship music. Oftentimes, we can end up worshiping the music, because a good musical experience becomes the idol. The measurement will easily be how much did people sing, did they clap their hands, was there a real energy in the room? All good stuff. Good enough I guess, but seems a little anti-climatic. We all know people who worship well and live poorly.
Worshiper pastors shepherd the heart of a people to take their next steps towards God by using music, media, and sometimes words and silence to promote a life given fully to Jesus.
There is a difference. Not a huge difference that we can see, but a huge difference nonetheless.
I believe in demonstrative worship. It is one of our core values at Freedom Church. I think God made emotions and we are to offer them to him in worship. I just think sometimes I can be guilty of using it as a poor measuring stick.
What about you? What measuring sticks do you use for worship, rightly or wrongly?