worship detox

“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.

really serving

Suzanne and I and our kids had the opportunity to do a service project this past Saturday, Valentine’s Day. It was an incredible experience! We served alongside a number of our friends who are starting browns mill church with us. The day was a bit of a struggle for some of us more “take charge” personalities. I had to keep reminding myself that my job for the day was that of servant and servants don’t have an agenda!

I’ve seen some churches do service projects and while they did actually help people, it seemed to be more of a publicity stunt to garner more buzz about their church. One church I visited promoted a 30 day “love our community” campaign. They did some extraordinary acts of service, captured it on video and then came back to their auditorium and showed everybody the footage.

A few days before our service project, I was reading through Matthew 6: “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ in front of others, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then you Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

The problem is, we want to leverage our serving opportunities. We think, “If people see us serving, they will see that we really care about people and come to one of our services and give their lives to Christ.” We have it backwards. What if our acts of service are not a means to an end, but rather an end in themselves. Maybe our acts of service are for our ultimate good and not for others. When we really serve, we are humbling ourselves, turning over the control to someone else–we have no agenda other than what is given to us. If we serve with our own agenda, that is not at all the case. When was the last time you served with no agenda?