Danny Daniels, Scott Underwood, Carl Tuttle and Cindy Rethmeier - Lowell, MA 1997
It is pretty amazing to see what has taken place in the area of worship since I began leading in 1976. We definitely knew then that we were on to something. We hoped to see worship impact people all over the earth. It certainly has, but I don't think any of us foresaw what has taken place. Many are quick to argue that 'worship is more than singing songs'. I will easily concede that. Of course it involves more than singing songs, but songs are the most visible and arguably the most influential aspect of what has emerged in worship. Songs embed ideas, truths and important doctrinal ideas in the lives of Christ followers.
You would be hard pressed to find an appropriate comparison to how worship has spread throughout the earth like it has through the songs that have been written and recorded over the last 30 years. One of the early examples of this is the way the song Seek Ye First spread all over the world and made its way into worship services in dozens and dozens of countries. A simple chorus, which by the way is one of the things critics have to say about modern worship; they say, "It's too simplistic." Yet in the case of this song, its message can't get any more profound, or have a greater impact if followed. To take issue with this song is to take issue with some of the most profound and clear teachings of Jesus: "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything else will be added to you." Does it need to me more complex than this? Does it need to be arranged musically in such a way that is more sophisticated or challenging? Or is it okay to be placed in a simple melody, that is accessible to the masses? I think you know what I think. Worship should be accessible, melodies attainable and songs singable. Look at the top CCLI songs. They virtually all have these characteristics and attributes, which may not be as interesting to the skilled musician, but can be compelling and inclusive for the skill level of the congregation.
In the early 80's, I was stunned to hear that my song, Hosanna, was being sung at a massive gathering of Catholics in the Louisiana Superdome. As far as I know, it was only on one recording at the time. We have seen the same thing with songs like Shout to the Lord, How Great Is Our God, The Lord Reigns, and Breathe. I could go on and on and on. It's like the message is being carried on the wings of angels!
The impact is astounding! When I first started 'leading worship', we didn't even have a name for it. There weren't a lot of churches using "worship teams." Now you can hardly find a church that doesn't have a worship team. It has been an amazing thing to watch, even more to participate in.
Yes, worship has become an industry, and yes, it has been tainted by commercialism. Okay, so what? I have decided to follow the Apostle Paul's example in Philippians 1. Some were preaching the gospel with wrong motives. Paul was just glad the gospel was being preached. "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached." I'm just glad the church is gathering and connecting to God by lifting their hearts to heaven with adoration, joy, thanksgiving, praise, and reverence.
There is something so wonderful about gathering together and corporately expressing our hearts to God; it transcends the reality of this world and ushers us into the reality of the Kingdom.
Blessings to all!