Not long after I came to our current church as pastor I had a young man who came to be a part of our church from the local college where I would later teach as an adjunct. I loved that guy. Our services were awful. We didn’t have a solid worship leader at the time and our music was just bad. We had hungry hearts… and bad music.
And that young college student came every service. No matter what the music was like, that guy was having a great time with Jesus. He was lifting his hands, or on his face, but ALWAYS crying out to God.
He represents the BEST of what we don’t have any more in our American worship experience in the evangelical church.
I watch today as people come in, judge the music, and walk out. I watch people stay away from some worship sets because the music is too loud. I watch people do all kinds of things to actually protest not being in the singing part of a service, or be in a church at all just because of the music set.
We don’t have worshipers any more. We have consumers.
It’s a two-sided problem.
1. As consumers, we want the music to our taste, our volume, our temperature, etc. And if you don’t deliver, I’m outta here.
2. As churches, we’re delivering more and more of a consumer experience. More and more worship is about watching the people on the stage doing phenomenal jobs… but as for falling our faces in worship… not so much.
If it’s a two-sided problem, the solution needs to be a two-way communication. As a church leader, I can’t just tell people, “Grow up.” (Okay… I can. It doesn’t get me far, but I can.)
As a worshiper, I can’t just bail out when I don’t like the worship.
The young college student I had was a worshiper. He would have liked better music, I’m sure. But he was there to seek God and he knew he was free to do it there.
Both sides of the equation need to be worshipers. The music needs to be excellent, to be sure… as much as we can get that under our control. But it needs to be for everyone. Not just the skilled people singing and playing. EVERYONE needs to be in. Our worship has to be for EVERYONE. It means good music people can remember and sing and get a connection to so they can leave the words on the screen from time to time, close their eyes, and go for it in a way THEY want.
For the person in the pew, quit bailing. Stick around. It may be too loud or way out of your range. But stick around. Have conversations. LIKE the worship leader and from time to time start a sentence with, “I like this about your style…” Instead of, “You know what you could do better?”
Let’s get it back to seeking God and get it away from performance. And let’s get away from bailing as consumers. Stick around and be a worshiper. When we all get to the WORSHIP part of “worship”, we may find some good ground to stand on… or kneel.