It’s not Worship: How our current church music culture diminishes true worshippers.

15 Jun

I think I’ve got a reputation. Not sure, but I’d bet that lots of people think that I’m anti-worship.
They are right.

If by anti-worship, you mean singing, that is. Singing, I’m all for it. You mean prayers put to music. If you mean songs that honor and glorify God through the medium of music and verbal confessions of humans on all ends of the spectrum when it comes to pitch IQ. I’m all for it.

Growing up in a small church, my mom sang and led beautifully. But on the occasions when a certain wanna-be opera singer showed up, “worship” was more like torture. Pain.

Words have meaning. We learned that from Bill Clinton, and the Mormon church. It’s possible to use the same words, and they not have the same meaning. I’ve met men whose names were actually horrible swear words in English. But the sound that comes out of their mouth actually has a different meaning in their language. No one is a “Christian” anymore. We’re “Followers of Christ” because the word has lost the original meaning, so in an effort to recapture communication, we had to start over.

Our church, the Ocean, has wonderful women and men who lead us in singing prayers and praise to God on a weekly basis. They lead us in new songs, to places we haven’t been before. But it’s not biblically worship. When they show up at practice, when they carry musical instruments, miss sleep, spend time seeking God and praying for us to encounter God during out time of singing, they are worshipping.
We are committed to the Bible as our source for belief and conduct. (Non Negotiable #2) Interesting.
Lets look in the Old Testament for the word worship. One of the closest you can come is sheddah.
“In our modern western culture worship is an action directed toward God and God alone. But this is not the case in the Hebrew Bible. The word shehhah is a common Hebrew word meaning to prostrate oneself before another in respect. We see Moses doing this to his father in law in Exodus 18:7. When the translators translate the word shehhah they will use the word "worship" when the bowing down is directed toward God but as "obeisance" or other equivalent word when directed toward another man. There is no Hebrew word meaning worship in the sense that we are used to using it in our culture today. From an Hebraic perspective worship, or shehhah is the act of getting down on ones knees and placing the face down on the ground before another worthy of respect.” (http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_worship.html)

Worship is prostration, obedience and an act of humility. Don’t believe me? Read this guy, he’s smarter than me, he’ll give you the Greek and the Hebrew.

Worship, in the bible, is either servanthood, giving, or sacrifice. Never singing.
So should we not have professional musicians “worship leaders?” Actually, we should. David hired men to conduct music and sing in the temple. Asaph was a professional song writer. He was Chris Tomlin, Jesus Culture, and the whole music industry all rolled into one. Elisha called for a musician and when the music played, it opened up his spirit to hearing from the voice of God. Men and women gifted by God in leading in this area are worthy of every penny. The church would be a poorer place without them.

Our times of praise draw us in. God delights in the praise of his people.
So what Charles? Aren’t you arguing semantics? Does it really matter?

Yes, and here’s why. Because true worship is available to every believer, is the responsibility of every believer. Even those who don’t like to sing, or who sing horribly. The contemplative. Or even more beautiful to God, the man or woman in the nursery every week holding babies as their act of servanthood so that others can have their spirits opened to an encounter with God. That’s worship. The man who comes and cleans the building and prays over every chair. The mother who readies her 3 kids all by herself and gets them to their class where they hear about Jesus. That’s worship. The person who faithfully gives financially and time to their local community of faith, regardless of their financial situation.
Calling yourself a band leader, music director, fine arts person doesn’t diminish you. It’s an act of rebellion that might actually be worship.

Much like everyone went from being pastor to being prophet and now the buzzword is Apostle, so too our current music movement has been driven by our desire for value. Recognition.

The true worshippers worship in spirit and in truth. It’s a heart action, not a vocalization.
So to all those awesome young people at the Ocean, Stephen Machua, Sid Mofya, you are worshippers. Every time someone minimizes the powerful spiritual leadership you exert in our community because we don’t use the right words, you are worshippers. Every time you get criticized for the new songs, for following your pastor’s directives of nothing older than 5 years, you are worshippers. You lead us in prayer, you usher us into the presence of Jesus, where you have been yourself. To Gwantwa and Heleen who serve us coffee with your teams, you are worshippers. To Anita and Paula and all those who don’t get “fed” so our children can learn of Jesus, you are worshippers. Even when you aren’t singing. Especially when you aren’t.
Respect!