Blasphemy! If You Want the Congregation to Worship More, Try Singing Less

Thoughtful question by  at Itching Ears blog

Worship is fast becoming a topic we avoid at all costs.  Much like discussing politics, discussing worship preferences and style, the should and should nots, the rights and wrongs, is not polite conversation.  It can and has led to all out war.  Challenge the status quo and you may have the same charges leveled against you that they leveled against Jesus: “Blasphemy…He is worthy of death!”

I believe that most of the battle stems from a lack of understanding about what worship really is.  Many people mistakenly believe that worship is the singing of a song.  It isn’t.  Read the Bible from cover to cover and you will discover that far from simply singing songs, worship is a life laid down.  I wrote about this in an earlier post called “When Did Worship Become the Singing of a Song?”

Having been a corporate leader of singing for 20+ years, I know that singing songs to the Lord can be a vehicle that helps us lay our lives down.  It can also get in the way of doing that.  More and more, I think it is getting in the way, hindering true worship.  Of course, I haven’t been to your congregation.  I have visited 30+ church services over the past 3 years, in three different States.  Everywhere I’ve been, there seems to be a doubling down on singing.  To make more room for it, we have stripped the service of most everything else, except the sermon (which is getting shorter), the offering, and the blessed announcements!

But has this increase in singing led to a church that is increasingly laying its life down for the Savior outside the service?  I am talking about the big picture.  Are believers who live in North America, consistently laying down their lives more, picking up the cross more and following Jesus more, now that we sing so much? I think the answer is a loud NO.

So what is the answer?   Here’s my suggestion:  If you want the congregation to worship more, then……….. sing….. less. Instead of singing six songs with the band, sing three or four.  Use the extra 10-15 minutes to incorporate other elements into the corporate worship time.  What are some other elements that help us live for God outside of the gathering?  I’m glad you made it this far!

How about a time  of communion that actually explains the Gospel?  Or, the reading of an extended passage of scripture that supports the theme of the singing time, and authoritatively challenges us to live for God?  A well thought out, written before hand prayer of confession that the entire congregation says together?  All of those elements and many others, remind us of what is real, and what matters.

The point I am making is this: if we want the congregations we lead to lay their lives down (worship) more and more outside of the service, singing one more song, however well executed, is not getting the job done.  Many worship leaders mistakenly believe that if they just get better players, better gear, better singers, more time, THEN the congregation will sing more.  They may, but that shouldn’t be the goal.  If worship is not the singing of a song but rather, a life laid down, we need to focus on those elements that help the congregation live out their faith Sunday afternoon through Sunday morning.

Now, let the battle begin!

For more thoughts on worship, see our post titled: “So You Want the Congregation to Sing More?  Try this” or our series called “Worship Leader Make-Over”

One Response

  1. The question of TRUE WORSHIP should be two-dimensional. It isn’t a matter of less singing or more singing (as this may be epitomized in what today is a misnomer–i.e. contemporary versus traditional. It is anchored in essence to what Jesus told the Samaritan woman (John 4)by contrasting what was WORSHIP Samaritan style versus what was WORSHIP Jewish style–when Jesus pointed to the future “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the TRUE WORSHIPERS will worship the Father in spirit and truth…v. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. Hence, what appears to not be explored in this subject of TRUE WORSHIP is that one cannot truly worship God in spirit, if what IN SINGING is not explicit TRUTH. What we sadly observe is that much in contemporary composition, we find a shallowness of understanding of WHAT IS TRUTH. So, in the Lord’s final prayer for his church, which is directly germane to TRUE WORSHIP:– is John 17:17: Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. Here we circumspectly revisit what Jesus said to the Jews is no less than in what constitutes TRUE WORSHIP today” If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. THEN YOU WILL KNOW THE TRUTH, and the truth will set you free.” My problem with much in contemporary music, is that IT IS NOT concrete truth” but abstract worship–it absents the GLUE of Jolhn 17:17, in that worship is more than making us FEEL GOOD…it is engaging “the cleansing power of the Word of God…Sanctify (cleansing)…THY WORD IS TRUTH. wrbm

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