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?
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But who cares about individuality on Sunday morning? Isn't that a focus on "me" and "you" instead of God?
I think often times individuality can cause us to be "me" focused. After all, most of the people who toss this idea around are the types that go an awful long way to make themselves unique... at least in image.
That attitude isn't quite what I'm talking about here. Somewhere between that attitude and the lock step worship is what I'm thinking about. Really, what we see communicated in Romans 12 is the kind of worship that I'm thinking of. Everybody has been imparted something different. Not just gifts, but also personalities. I like a worship environment that allows people's personalities and gifts to be expressed.
As far as content, worship (in the musical sense) isn't really about content. I don't thing God cares about our content as long as it isn't contrary to Holy Scripture. What I do think the Lord cares about is our intent when we come to worship.
There are many other times when we can worship with deep theological content, like say, the teaching time, which is specifically designed for cognitive exercise. I think there is plenty of health in a corporate worship service that allows people to express themselves to God emotionally (music), cognitively (teaching), and then with works (which is not only expressed in the church setting, but as we go along throughout the week).
Of course, it is good to note that all executions of worship can be molded to be about me or God. The critical component is that we keep in mind who we are supposed to be worshiping and keep our intentions pointed that way.
I like a worship environment that allows people's personalities and gifts to be expressed.
I think that's the key statement - "I like". This is about preferences.
My point is that we shouldn't be knocking someone else's preference of worship. If they like a more regimented, hymns/piano kind of thing, who are you or I to call that something else? I personally find that kind of thing boring, but people chose it for their own reasons and it's no less worshipful. I think it's OK to prefer what you're doing, but let's not imply that there's something less spiritual about what other people do.
I myself have had to live with requirements to do the songs "just like the CD" so the "young people" who "won't have it any other way" are satisfied. Just the Old-Hymn attitude in new dress.
In my new church, even in the contemporary service most of the people are over 50, so there's quite a cross-section of cultures, at least in age; only a few have concrete expectations for music, so I have a lot of freedom of how and what music may relate to the entire congregation and the friends they may invite.
The more homogenous a church is, the less it is aware of its own exclusiveness: things just "are the way they are". Music just sounds "right" the way it is done by the majority. You can fill in any style; I think the principle remains.
We are called to come together in worship to our God, so what’s wrong with doing that. Anyone can worship at home, or in the car or even at work. To worship together, gets us out of our comfort zones and opens our hearts - to be vulnerable and transparent. we are to work together in all things and help each other , not dictate what one person wants, unless it's Gods will.
To me, if you deny a person 'who is called ' to a ministry - i.e. the worship ministry, like say Cory, then you are denying the authority, gifting and purpose of why he is there. So, you are denying God, from what and who, not to mention how God the Father wants to be worshiped
Where is the concept of "denying" coming from?
The denying comment was referring to Cory's statement that some parishners got stiffnecked about wanting CD's played instead of someone playing acoustic guitar ( as in Cory's comment). There has been a lot of comments since referring to , I guess, the topic.
Ah - thanks. I couldn't find it.
It does seem quite silly. I'm not sure I would elevate it into disobedience to God, but it's clearly not a good thing.
A few times when we've traveled, we stayed at a bed-and-breakfast instead of a motel. Since the breakfast was part of the charge, it was ridiculous to miss it. There's always the risk you'll get someone you don't like, or who complains about the service, or that sort of thing; but each time proved to be a wonderful sharing of selves, likes, loves and ideas with each other. Many times my life has been made richer on buses, trains, potlucks and other venues that force people together.
As a Sunday School teacher the first thing I do to a classroom is get the chairs out of the rows and into some sort of arc or circle.
But worshiping God... as I write, the idea of thinking of people looking at me while worshiping sort of nakeds me. I play keyboard, and I always have something in front of me, to protect me; so I can look the other worshipers right in the eye but am "safe" myself. But I would like to be part of the arm-in-arm community, even if I didn't have an instrument, rather than just looking at a bunch of backs. Our faces give other people Jesus, for He is "in the midst of us", which seems a little closer than "somewhere up there between the cross and the baptismal."
How have we generated such a culture, that we prefer to be lonely?
Gentlemen, I think it may be time to close this discussion.