I have been in some churches where the time of “worship” has been like standing in a room of zombies, i can recall singing “joy is in this place” and half the congregation seemed unable to move their arms, let alone scream dance and sing for joy!
I often have a discussion with my mum about church and how lively, jovial or relaxed it should be, I have visited her church and although the preaching and teaching is some of the best I have heard, they sing psalms and hymns that I haven’t heard sung this century! I spent most of my life in a lively spirit-filled church, so any visit to churches which repeated words from prayer or reading books, felt alien and odd to me.
I am now fully aware that different believers like different styles, I don’t envy the worship leader who has to try and mix hymns and newer worship songs to satisfy a congregation of varying ages, but there seems to be a growing number of songs being sung that are meaningless or nonsensical, and I regretfully understand my parents viewpoint a little more.
How many of our songs that we sing in churches are even bible-based? If they do use verses from the bible in their verses or choruses how many are in context? I had to stop myself singing a song when I saw it said:-
“But we’ll have eternal life
And we’ll never be condemned,
For God’s promises are Yes and Amen!
Yeah, yeah, yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah and Amen!
I was confused! I knew part of that was truth, we will have eternal life, we will not be condemned thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice, but “God’s promises are yes and amen” is taken from 2 Corinthians 1:20. If the bible says that God has promised it, then it is a yes, but it is US that say “amen” because it means “I agree”! Why would God say “I agree” with his own promises?! What is with the need to repeat words like “yeah, yeah, yeah?”
I don’t know how many of you consciously sing the words that you see on screen, I have sung some old hymns and it feels like I should do it in a Yoda voice as they are arranged in a way that star wars fans would expect him to speak! (I don’t do it in a Yoda voice as that would be wrong!)
I was at a training day and someone played “In Christ alone“, I suddenly realised how many times I had sung that without really thinking about the words, I really needed to hear and see the lyrics to that song at that moment in time, it dawned on me that all I do will fail unless I stand in Christ who gives me strength and enables me to do all that he has called me to do!
Another verse I stopped myself from singing had a lines which said:-
Holy spirit, You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence, Lord
Let us become more aware of Your presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness
The problems I have with those lines are that they were written by the worship band from Bethel, Redding, where “glory clouds”, gold-dust and feathers are apparently appearing! I am still unsure why they think they are real and/or from God?! Secondly, they are unbiblical! Sure, you can say “Holy Spirit, we welcome you” but if you are reading God’s word, praising his name and declaring the awesomeness of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is already with us?
I long for God’s guidance and wisdom, I want to overcome by his love and knowledge that my sins are forgiven! Nowhere in the bible does it say a group of believers were gathered together and they were longing for God’s glory! At Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples were anointed by the holy spirit, they didn’t fall back, they didn’t start muttering odd phrases like “shaka bonke!” They were accused of being drunk but obviously weren’t as it was too early and the disciples were speaking in languages that other jews could understand!
What does “Glory of your goodness” mean?! We cannot experience God’s “glory” and live! Even if we glimpse it, we would be physically unable to stand as the weight of failure to live his way would cause us to fall on our knees and cry for forgiveness!
I have been to conferences where the worship was inspiring and the feeling of thousands of worshippers in unison, praising our father and Saviour is incomparable (on earth anyway). But as worship leaders often find, it is virtually impossible to bring that “awesomeness” home to their local church. You may have “conference fever” inspired by the words and worship, but how long does it last?
Hillsongs church is known for “amazing worship” and a lot of local churches use their songs, but how much of their “worship” is “performance“? I know a minister who once was involved with the operating of their sound equipment, who told me that it was so extensive that a sound guy for a rock star’s concert would be jealous!
There must be a middle ground, I don’t think that we are called to just sing and listen to songs from the 19th century, but some of the songs that we are singing in our churches these days, seem more secular and feeling-based that Christ-centered and Bible-based!
This video really made me think, I am not a worship leader but like some of the pastors in the video, I am worried for the future of churches in the world, if we are promoting shallowness and prosperity being the way followers of Christ should enjoy!
You may disagree with me, and I would welcome the feedback, but if King David wrote and sang from the heart, worshipped God for who he is, repented to God for the mistakes, pleading to God to help him in his dark times and cried out when he was in distress, then surely we should be doing likewise, not asking for things which we do not need to and barely being conscious of the words we are declaring with our lips!
Don’t sleepwalk through church services or you may find yourself somewhere you are not meant to be!