Rick Warren once said something to the effect of, if you want to change cultures - become a musician. Music is extremely powerful. It has the ability to, in one fell swoop, to provoke thought, action, and emotion.
When we talk about our worship offering as a group, the tendency is to say "it's just music", as if, for some reason, it is less important than anything else we can offer God. Yet, I see the power of music in our congregation. I see how it moves people, I see how people leave with it and rely on it during the week, I see how it causes people to contemplate God.
Our modern attitude towards music (in many churches) is that it is OK to half a$$ our way through our music worship offering. The consequence is that many churches have sloppy music and poor mixes for their worship offering. I have to wonder: does this work against us when it comes to reaching people?
The poles are unified: we are not a Christian nation. Less than 40% of our population attend church, of any kind. Start doing the math of ratio of people attending Christian churches vs the total population in almost any demographic, and you'll find that Christianity is practiced by almost 30% of the population. It has been this way for 30 years or more, and the number of Christians are shrinking.
Back in the early 80s, and certainly through the 90s, it was seen that if a Church wants to increase its fruitfulness, our musical worship offering to God is the place to start. Certainly, the churches that have taken this to heart and send up a top notch worship offering that is relevant to the demographic around it are virtually the only churches that grow today. Sadly, these churches are in the minority in many parts of the US.
Do we discount the importance of our music worship offering to God?
One thing I have been wondering: We declare how great God is, how wonderful he is, but then in many churches, the corporate worship offering is sloppy. Do people who see this "call our bluff" and decide that we can't be THAT serious about our God when we hand him sloppy for our worship?
A number of years ago I read about a non-christian who visited a church at the request of her friends. This person was a professional in the music industry (though not a singer/musician). After the service, she was asked by her church friends about her opinion of the music, and how the worship music could be improved. Her reply was, "Well, you're in luck. The music presentation is so bad that it won't take much to make a significant improvement of any kind."
Personally, I think our heads are in the sand if we think that we can get away with not giving the "services of worship" the time and energy and resources that they should have. For me, that part of the Sunday activities is just as important as the time of preaching/teaching. Different people are reached by different things, and if we ignore either venue, it is to our own detriment.
in my opinion, we were created to worship. and whether it be worship with music, i think we should bring our ALL and do it with the best of our ability... so many times through the bible it says that god chose people that could play "skillfully" etc,
I like to wonder how i would play my guitar, or how we would play songs if we were doing them for the Queen for example, and usually the response is, we would make sure we did our best, or even better than our best... I want to bring my best because im worshiping the creator of the universe..
i think music has WAY move "power" that we realize. music has the ability to change atmospheres, and also physical things. last year i watched a study on how music could change physical matter. They used the example of the wine glass breaking when the appropriate tone was played to it. the video was slowed down and before the wine glass smashed the glass would actually flex because the of the tones resonating and changing the physical matter of the glass. So then the guy doing the study started to bring scripture into that, and was talking about how in the beginning when God spoke and the sound of his voice created life etc... and then also talked about the theory that the Egyptians used sound to move the huge stones into place ( i know it sounds crazy, but it can happen) so from using those examples, we went on to talk about the power of music and sound, and ways that sound can change stuff.. so the thought behind it was play music and get The holy spirit to "flow" through your music and really change the atmosphere or even physical stuff for God.... anyways, sounds a bit cooky but interesting thing to think about...
yeah i try and play the same to man... my dad used to say "everything you do, do it as if you were doing it for Jesus," so if im playing at a home group, or a conference with a few thousand people, i wanna be playing my best and bringing my best
Not suggesting that our music should be shoddy, but there's a danger of becoming too good and leaving the people behind. It's not about the music, but about drawing the congregation out in their worship, plus providing space for them to move as God directs. I'm sure that a music professional who came into a meeting where people were worshipping in the spirit would find it sadly lacking - there would be all kinds of gaps, the band would not always have a clear direction and people might be singing odd stuff that didn't always fit too well.
It think it's important that we're skilled as musicians, but not that we strive for musical perfection, because we need to enable a lot of lesser untrained & unpracticed musicians (the congregation) to follow us.
Another thought: while I am playing for Jesus *in one sense* I'm not performing for him. Actually I'm mostly playing 'for' the congregation, trying to do what works best for them, trying to help them come deeper into worship. Stagecraft was mentioned in another thread some time back: as worship leaders we need a form of stagecraft to both see where the people are and to hear the Holy Spirit at the same time, all the while trying to sing and play. Tricky.
Finally: a good player is not one who is technically accomplished (although they may be) but is someone who moves those he plays for. Is it our playing or our hearts that 'move' our Father when we play?
You bring some good points up. But I think it is really quite simple, and only tricky when we try to balance our traditional thoughts on worship with what Holy Scripture says about worship.
My church is one of those large churches that is blessed with a nice budget and an amazingly talented technical people. While we don't go all out with video and intelligent lighting, it would be "beneath us" to not use their skills to the max. So we have a technical director, we have fancier than normal lighting, a fantastic sound system, etc. We have these things not because we forced ourselves to do them, but because God blessed us with the talent that wants to be used in this capacity. Even cooler, as we seek to do more with what we have, God provides us with more talent to operate. Granted, not always at the speed we want - and the system isn't perfect. But we have, I believe, because we use. There are a few people that actually come to our church because they have technical skills that our church can use.
Everybody recognizes that we are doing what we do for Jesus first. But at the same time, we do it for the people. There are a few things that we won't do because it will make people unhappy (and everybody agrees, it does hold us back as a body), but for the most part, the leadership wants us to do the best we can with what we have. If we can't do it great, we won't do it at all. This includes music, teaching, and all other aspects of our worship offering.
I believe that this is why we grow faster than almost every other church in town. It isn't because of the lights and the music (for the sake of lights and music) it is because we declare a great God and we act like it in a manner that the unbeliever sees that we are serious about what we preach through our actions (in fact, I have heard several testify to this fact).
Now, nobody should read this and say "well we don't have a budget that lets us have great sound and light". That isn't what I'm saying. What I'm saying is if you can't do it great, should you even do it at all?
If God has blessed you with a great acoustic singer and a vocalist that also wants to serve the church, and you use a half a$$ing musician and a vocalist that can barely handle pitch (forget musical style) because politically it is easier, because, you know, they have been doing it for 20 years (this happens a lot, by the way), are you really doing the right thing?
i think you have nailed it cory... i
I think you should do it as good as you can, or not do it. although dont think its about how great you do it compared to other people... i think its how great you do it to your ability. I think if you settle for second best then why do it. BUT i think if you only have a half ass musician, BUT they are giving it everything they have (and by that includes practicing and learning to get better) then that is also amazing.. i think it looses it when churches go, we are going to pull back from doing stuff well, because we dont want it to look flashy. if you have the right heart it doesnt matter how flashy it looks. as long as your bringing your best. but it all comes back to the heart.
I think what you're suggesting can be a little dangerous. Consider that there is no spiritual gift called "music worship minister" or "worship musician". The Spirit gave gifts of ministry to the church to cause growth and those are things like giving, mercy, service, exhortation, tongues, teaching prophecy etc. It is these things that create long lasting growth in accordance with God's will.
There is a greater emphasis on music and "quality music worship offering" today than any time in my recent history. It's really good and really high quality and I'm personally involved in it - it's awesome. I think people are very sincere and really wish to give glory to God. Along with that, I'm personally seeing less and less emphasis on ministries of the Word and missions in many of those same churches. And the church at large is still shrinking.
If you have a solid ministry of the Word and missions going on, then you can build a solid music worship program. And that program can often draw some new members. (As do many other things like quality Christian Education programs.) But never should you think it is why you're growing!
I think in order for a church to be in God's will, they have to adhere to the Great Commission. There was a statistic that was shared with me about 15 years ago that looked at the major denominations and the only one that was growing at the time had a primary emphasis on missions (IE, the Great Commission).
So without a solid ministry of the Word and adherence to the great commission, you will eventually die or become irrelevant and nothing more than a social club. Quality worship offerings with music is something that you can and should do if you have the basics down. If you elevate music worship ministry to the primary spot, you've made it an idol.
This, I would say, is the tension we have to deal with as Worship leaders.
Good thoughts, Stevo. Proper balance, and a good foundation.