Your worship stinks

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.

The journey to hear his voice

Every once in awhile I blog on making a case for humming more. Or whistling.

There’s not enough of it in our world anymore.

My grandpa was a carpenter. I would watch him work and while he worked, especially when he was cutting a board, or measuring for the cut, he would whistle.

As I walk through my day, I hum. Sometimes I whistle.

I hum hymns. They are so embedded in my spirit, I find myself humming a tune long after I’ve already started. Then, the words come to my mind… and I am refreshed.

Learning worship songs has become more and more difficult because we are getting bored with worship songs. It’s a shame. We need solid worship tunes making their way through our spirits on a regular basis.

Pick a favorite and learn it. Make sure it’s “hummable.” There aren’t enough hummable worship songs these days. Too many songs featuring some instrument or someone’s screaming vocals.

Learn some older stuff as well, if you’re daring. Call it “cutting edge.” You’ll feel better.

Come, Thou Fount is one I find myself humming on a regular basis. When I catch up with my humming, I remember the lines of one of the verses: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, O, take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above.”

When I am humming those songs, my life somehow centers in. In the past few weeks I’ve been more intentional about humming. When I feel my spirit getting agitated, I begin to hum. I don’t care who is listening. And in that humming, and it’s usually a hymn like Come Thou Fount or Great is Thy Faithfulness or something else with a King James word in it… I find my soul calming down and things lining up. I answer questions more calmly. I respond much better.

I’ve also worked harder to meditate continually on the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23. They are such joyous anchors to me right now. They keep me centered in. And when I am centered in on the power of the presence of Jesus, I am further along on the journey to truly hear his voice.