When your church comes together to worship God, do they do so as a community or as a larger group of individuals?
I came across a situation I found slightly disturbing recently. In order to try to facilitate worship in a smaller group of people (about 20ish) I arranged the seats in a crescent with myself on acoustic guitar at the end of one arm (not in the middle) so that we were all closer together. Negative feedback ensued, with one person particularly declaring how, when they worshiped they didn't want to have to see other people and another how they preferred CDs to a live musician where they needed to sing out (this church has a long history of using CDs in place of a worship team).
Now *to me* communal worship is what we do together as a body, rather than simply as a group of individuals. I know that I have argued the opposite to this in the distant past, but that was before I discovered what it meant to actually be part of a worshipping body. So my questions are really:
1) Do you see communal worship as everyone together, almost linking arms, to worship God, or simply as a larger gathering of individuals who worship alone en masse?
2) Is the way we arrange worship (band, gig atmosphere, 'clever' songs, words on screen etc) producing more performance oriented worship for individuals and less worship as a community functioning together?
Replies are closed for this discussion.
I think you're going to have to do some dancing to make all of that fit together.
No dancing needed.
Who ever said "I can't worship without hymns etc."? Most people just say, " I like this better". Having a preference for one thing over another doesn't' amount to idolatry either. And no, I've not seen the Lord dispose of people many times who engage in "idolatry" (defined as "needing a particular thing to worship".) The problem with that kind of thinking is that you tend to have brought it up when the subject is distractions or dislike for a certain style of worship. By bringing it up when you do, you're implying something that you may not mean to.
And without realizing it, you've also made it problematic to even have a preference - by just implying that worship is somehow better and more free when you do a certain thing, you've said that it's not its best without that thing. And now, with it not being it's best, you're implying that something was held back or discouraged without it. But with it, it's not held back. So now you need it to worship completely and fully and freely. Even if a certain kind of style or action is merely encouraging people to "come out of their shells", you're attaching some value to the method itself that without that method, the worship doesn't come all the way out. And in your logic, it is therefore idolatry. You can't escape it.
So maybe no dancing needed, but some escape mechanism for sure.
Ha ha - I never thought there would be a box for you.
But really - you're part of a body and worship time on Sunday morning isn't really about being an individual. We all sing the same song - right? What's the whole idea of a body? Many different parts that make up a whole - and the whole is the focus point. I don't see you as Lorraine's liver being carted around in Lorraine's abdomen. I see you as Lorraine. You have your function (ministry), but the goal is to contribute to the body.
I'm not saying we should force everyone into the same mold. I'm saying that we shouldn't call another person's choice of mold "not genuine" or "inauthentic" or whatever. Plenty of people choose a hymns/piano worship service precisely because that is how they like to worship. Why would we knock that?
And where is individualism actually considered an ideal in scripture?
I'm just sayin' - if Corey want's to keep up the talk about "idolatry"...ha ha
One of the few Scriptures where the Apsotle even discusses types of expression in worship, he merely tosses out "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" - basically the whole gamut of song types, laid out without preference. So individuals may contribute in varied ways, just as in 1 Corinthians 12.
If there is any ideal in Scripture, it is becoming more like Christ. And becoming more like Christ often has to do with surrendering individual ideals for the love of others. The only thing even vaguely resembling what we call "self-realization" today would be the concept of being predestined to good works (the good works being what you were supposed to be doing, but hadn't previously)-- yet this very concept implies boundaries and consideration for the rest of the Body, not mere "self-expression."
Stevo, when I tallked about genuine worship, I wasn't referring to anyone elses way of worshipping or saying it wasn't genuine, I was merely referring to myself. Anyway, I'm only putting the record straight on that :)
Whilst I agree that we should be worshipping as part of a body, I still have to say that on a Sunday morning, for me, it is about being an individual. Now, I am not saying that it is right, in fact, it isn't right, but unfortunately that is what it has become for me. It's kinda hard not to when there's just me and the guy leading the worship who are the only one's singing most of the time - and that's the reality of it.
I'm not convinced though that we do all sing the same song, in fact in my case I'd say we definitely do not sing the same song!
Why do I stay there? I have my reasons and also commitments, and despite all I have hope: )
So here's the question I have been waiting to pose - in your case, I get the sense that you would feel "disruptive" if you "let loose" in the aisles etc. Is this self-imposed or have you been directed to "keep it cool"?
I'm curious how these things come about because I notice a small number of our members raising their hands or closing their eyes or whatever - the rest are just busy reading the words and singing them. How many of the quiet ones would start clapping or raising their hands if they were certain people wouldn't look down on them? Is it just an impression, or was something communicated directly about "boundaries" for worship?
And the other question about individuality - I still think the great thing about community worship is that you are showing the Lord that you are one. For that moment in time, you are banding together and putting aside your differences and singularity and working for the same goal - in music. I'm not against individualism, I just personally think that it's quite grand to see a throng of believers doing the same thing together from time to time. And if that's one hour on Sunday morning, it's not a lot to ask.
Here in the states, we certainly have the range of styles from stodgy, hymns-only congregations to crazy, rolling-in-the-aisles charismatic. Certainly we can avoid extremes here and come together as one from time to time and look and act like one.
- Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying your an extreme. You just raise some excellent talking points.
'in your case, I get the sense that you would feel "disruptive" if you "let loose" in the aisles etc. Is this self-imposed or have you been directed to "keep it cool"?'
Yes, I would most definitely feel disruptive in my regular Sunday situation and I have also been told in no uncertain terms that raising ones hands in the air is a lot of show and about oneself and not about God!
Don't get me wrong, I love to be able to worship as one, which is the reason I go to different churches/venues, same denomination, different denominations etc. but it doesn't happen at my home church on a Sunday morning.
Talking about individuality, and this is just an example, I have more often than not been in situations when practically the whole congregation are raising their hands. However, there is no way on earth that I will do the same unless it comes totally naturally for me to do so . It simply doesn't feel right that I should follow the crowd because everyone else is doing it. I have to ask the question, do all these people want to put their hands in the air or are they just going with the majority. Please don't think I am saying it is wrong, but I am saying that it isn't right for me.
And I'm just thinking out loud, but the "boundaries" of worship that are in place for one group of people can actually be quite contrary to what they are for another group. Most likely, neither are wrong and most of these kinds of things are based on localized, cultural perceptions. Heck, in some churches, if you're not lifting your hands, you're looked down on. In others, you're encouraged not to.
And we would probably all agree that when certain assemblies have people rolling in the aisles, that's not very Godly. But there seems to be a broad range of behavior that is within the boundaries.
As for not doing what the crowd is doing, that's exactly what we're talking about. It is the one time where crowd behavior is considered "good".
I don't know what you mean by, "it doesn't happen at my home church"...
Are shallow lyrics Individualistic and Free, or just a show of laziness?
Oh - good qwestion. Maybe a little of all three?
Freedom is great -- as long as its characteristics meet the standards of the Freedom Committee.