“Hi. My name is Kevin and I’m a recovering attractional church worship leader.”
For many of us in the typical “contemporary” evangelical church, the above scene (or something a little toned down, maybe), represents a typical Sunday morning worship service. Guitars. Drums. Lights. Haze. Top 40 worship tunes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’ve spent almost 14 years in local church worship ministry utilizing all of the above. But I’m over it. All of it.
Sadly, when we hear the word “worship” that is what most people think of. Ok, so maybe the more traditional among us don’t think of guitars and haze, but they do primarily think of worship as the musical portion of the service. I know that the local body of believers gathering together and singing IS a part of worship, but it is only a very small part.
For most of the past 3 months, I have spent my Sunday mornings away from the “show” that has come to characterize much of contemporary worship. It has been kind of like a “worship detox” for me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m using the term “worship” in the sense that most of us associate it with–guitars, drums, lights, haze, top 40 worship tunes. Suzanne and I have been attending Four Corners Church in Newnan, GA. I love their worship service because it is so very different. I didn’t know most of their songs. Most of them were old prayers of Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi and the like or old, obscure hymns. Lots of “thees” and “thous” in them–breaking all the contemporary seeker church rules!
Today, I was re-immersed in the pop worship culture and I was really surprised by my reaction! All of the things that I had supported, clamored for and defended suddenly seemed so out of place. The verse that came to my mind was “Smoke, nothing but smoke. There’s nothing to anything—it’s all smoke” (Ec. 1:2 MSG). (Yes, they were using haze, but that is not what I’m referring to.) I just didn’t connect to it. I don’t want to take anything away from the guys who were leading worship. They were great–tight band, great vocals, bang up lighting. I guess that to me, over the past few months, the word “worship” has come to mean something different–something more substantive. When the Church re-embraces its original purpose and mission–to make disciples–and God’s people begin living like Jesus and leading others to do the same, then–and only then–can we can have worship! You see, true worship can only happen from the overflow of our hearts from a life lived like Jesus during the week–the life of a disciple.
I think I’m going to stop using the word “worship” for anything pertaining to what happens on Sunday. Not because it isn’t worship, but in order to put the emphasis back on the fact that worship is a life lived like Jesus. Let’s strip away everything we can from “worship” as we know it. Maybe we can add it back once we come to a true understanding of what worship really is.