I told myself that I would never write about worship. It is a topic that never seems to start a dialogue – just arguments. People can handle bad theology, bad doctrine, and bad practices — but worship? If you discuss worship, be prepared for people to roll up their sleeves and throw a punch. However, recently, I read an article in a local newsletter. The article disturbed me for 2 reasons: 1.) It was from the “Wittenburg Door,” which is a Christian satirical publication. 2.) The person who commented on the satirical piece took it as truth and argued in favor of what satire was trying to put an end to.
I cannot reprint the article, due to copyright infringement (of which this newsletter most likely violated), but what I can do is accurately summarize it.
The article was about how worship leaders should not talk. It satirically pointed fun at how we have such “strict” requirements for preachers but not for worship leaders. It said that worship leaders should sing and nothing else. They are not theologians nor are they teachers — but their music can teach, just not the musician. It was a rather humorous piece when looked at as satire.
Unfortunately, the preacher who commentated on the article did not view it as satire. In fact, he viewed it as truth. He agreed that musicians should not talk and that they are just there to sing – nothing else.
Obviously, musicians have to be some form of theologians. Some churches expect preachers to lead worship. So if musicians are not theologians, does that mean that theologians are not musicians? These are insights that are to be gained from this satirical piece.
This is the mindset of many rural Illinois churches. They don’t have a problem with worship as long as there is a piano, an organ, and all 9 verses of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” But the moment you take away a verse, or the organ, you’re in deep water.
I’m really tired of the worship wars. It’s a never ending battle in the traditional evangelical church. The older generation thinks that God hates the younger generation’s worship. And the younger generation thinks that God is tired of the older generation’s worship. We argue about these nonessential things. What we truly should be focusing on is obviously God. However, we focus instead on the guitar that is playing, the drums that are banging, and the bass guitarist that is jumping.
I remember a phone call I made to an individual in the church. They had been writing comments on the back of their attendance cards (I’ve been thinking about publishing some of these comments…). So I decided to give him a call to see how we could somehow meet in the middle on old and new worship. Long story short, it did not go well. He told me that I was robbing people of worship. I stopped him there and told him that people decided in their hearts that they would not worship. This was a bad move because it ended up causing him to get even more angry and involved him telling me how I didn’t respect my elders.
This is the kind of thing that I see in the rural Christian churches in Illinois. It upsets me beyond belief. When I lead worship, I see the angry stares and the tightened lips. God must really hate our worship. It’s the only explanation for why I see so much anger in the faces of the people I’m leading in worship.
I hesitated writing this piece because of the content. We will always argue old versus new. It will always be an argument. It will never end. The people who want to walk down the middle of the road (like myself) will never fully satisfy either party. And the middle should not be an option — for it is an option that is only made available because we are too scared of ticking off either side.
What I can say is this: God must really hate our worship. Because instead of worshiping Him, we complain about a song — whether that be a hymn or a new song (I have heard both complain). The older generation wants hymns because that is what they grew up singing. The younger generation wants new songs because they’re more exciting. Both sides will not be pleased. Ever. Therefore, God must really hate our worship. The younger generation tells themselves that this will bring more people in the church (even though worship is consistently proven to have little effect on why a non Christian would attend a church). The older generation tells themselves that the hymns are more theologically sound (even though looking through the lyrics of “I’ll Fly Away,” “When We All Get to Heaven,” and “In the Garden” prove that they are not more theologically sound). Both sides tells themselves things to support why they want what they want.
You can sense the worship division in the church. Both sides must get over themselves. No more waiting for the older generation to die off and no more waiting for the younger generation to come to their senses. Books have been written and will continue to be written (and will sell quite well) but none will solve the problem – for the problem is inside all of us. That’s what has to be fixed. Not the service. Us. There, I saved you from paying $400 to go to a worship conference.