Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Worship Experience or Concert?

Hurry to reserve you seat for a unique worship experience!

A few days ago I received an email in my promotions inbox. It was a mailing from a band whose mailing list I subscribe to. The band plays mostly worship songs. The email read something like this: “Come to (such-and-such a place) on (such-and-such a date) for a unique worship experience.” Change the location, change the date change, the adjective from “unique” to “powerful” or “intimate” or “impactful” or your adjective of choice, and you'll get an advertisement similar to hundreds of others that are put out every year.

Although I still in many ways blame Third Day and their worship album as the album that stunted the growth of what is often called “Christian music”, I would never fault bands for playing the kind of music they want to play or for playing the kind of music that helps them earn a living. I am sure that many, perhaps even most of these musicians really do want to play music that is worshipful. I think that many even worship every time they perform. These bands definitely produce a lot of really good music. I wish, however, that we could simply be honest when it comes to events like these.

Jesus described true worship as something that is done in spirit and truth. Great instrumentation, a great stage show, lights, fog machines and the like—none of these are central to worship, nor, I suggest, do they actually increase listeners’ worshipfulness. Music has always moved people. Music has always been a most emotional art. What's really going on here? It's a concert. It's simply that.

Whether it's the David Crowder Band or Third Day or Hillsong or some other worship-song-producing band, I wish we could just be honest and say we like listening to their music. We like singing their songs. We're most likely not going to the show because it's an especially good time of worship, although some people may actually worshipping.

In reality we often just like the music and want to see a good live show, just like anyone who goes to see any other musician. Let me suggest, also, that if people find they can “worship” better or more powerfully at these events, they may be confusing emotional arousal with sincere worship. They are not only not the same, they are light years apart.

Can we be honest? Just admit you like the music (assuming you are of the Christian worship persuasion), and if you're just excited about seeing a band, say that.

By the way, to my knowledge picture at the top is just a guy playing violin and singing.

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