I'd be particularly interested to read comments from our American friends on Worship The Rock, especially as there are quite a few remarks about worship and worship leaders in the States.
“I’ve just come back from the States and over there you can see the natural progression of where we are heading, and believe me, we don’t want to go there,” he says. “The first question I was asked in American churches was not ‘What is God doing?’ but ‘Whose stuff do you do?’ Churches compete to be the most professional in the town, attracting people to the ‘best’ experience. The amount of money spent on PA systems and instruments when there are people living in poverty just up the road was painful.”
I think it's a good article and it has given me lot's to think about. I do think there is a danger of becoming very celebrity minded about worship leaders. Just driving home today I was listening to a worship CD by a well known church and when certain famous worship leaders come on stage there is loads of cheering and whistling. It got me wondering if people were more focussed on the worship leader who had stepped on stage or on God Himself. It's so easy to get distracted but we must do everything we can to be like John and say (and truly mean it):
But don't we all bring an agenda with our own comments on what we see in life? Just because it doesn't come in the guise of a professional organisation (and there is much to be said for the CSM which is distinct from other forms of Socialism), we each still bring our comments from our viewpoint on life. Said agenda may be present but doesn't seem to be overtly evident. If there was a plug for CSM (any more than there is mention of the other 'big names' and associated organisations eg. St Andrews Chorleywood) I would concur.
I think that there is a fine line between being a Worship Leader and being an entertainer. There are those well know and renowned worship leaders that we admire because of the music they produce and how it moves us. I don't think there is anything wrong with showing our appreciation as worshipers when we have a chance to experience them live, however the difficulty is for us to remember that we are there to worship the Most High God, to be in his presence. As a worship leader and recovering musician, I have to separate the urge to entertain and to keep my focus on Him that I am there to worship. I still have that musicians ego, but if I surrender to God and make him my sole focus, I can then faithfully provide an honest example of worship and find myself heading into the throne room of the Most High God. God wired me for music, and that's the gift I use to glorify Him. But I also want to give him my first fruits and provide him the best worship possible.
I find it very sad that our congregations are worshipping the worship leaders/bands and not the King of Kings. While I believe that striving for excellence is important, I think that striving to have a life changing encounter with God is what we should be hoping and praying for as worship leaders. We should be able to sing the phone book and worship should still be able to happen. "It's all about You Jesus. It's not about me. As if you should do things my way. YOu alone are God and I surrender to YOur ways" from the song Jesus Lover of My Soul.
Remember all that we can do to serve the Lord is to provide the example for the body to see. We have to be worshiping Him and heading in to the throne room ourselves. We hope that the body will follow our Lead and join us in worshiping him. We can't make anyone worship, just provide the opportunity for the body to worship. I do think that is one of the biggest disconnects with the body, is that they feel that worship is just the entertainment part of the service. I try and teach during our services, what worship is about.
Narcissistic church leaders, worship leaders included, have a way of cloaking self-aggrandizement behind the name of Jesus.
I would be suspect of any large church that is personality driven, especially the ones that have their pastors and worship leaders projected 10 times larger than normal people on LCD screens! .
I'm from a small church but once years ago when some on the worship team were oozing an attitude I moved them off the stage and made them part of the worshiping congregation. The stage was empty of attitude and praise seekers ... void of personalities everyone including the worship team had to find and praise Jesus!
Thanks for sharing the article, Phil. It is certainly thought provoking, and there is always a need for brothers and sisters in Christ to hold each other accountable to God’s calling in our lives.
This is not a new thing (the idea that some of those involved in religious leadership begin to favor the applause of men instead of the approval of God). In Matthew 23 Jesus rebukes the scribes and Pharisees for “…all their works they do to be seen by men.” They wore the biggest phylacteries, had the most ornate borders on their garments, chose the best seats at the feasts and in the synagogue, enjoyed the greetings in the marketplace (fan adulation?) and loved to be called ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’
But did Jesus say to get rid of them? No, he maintained that “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do…” Matt 23:2-3
It’s easy to bash, and I think Mr. Macauley’s comment in the article is worth remembering: “I would be reluctant to criticize anyone, none of us get it right and I think we should spend more time celebrating one another’s successes rather than going on and on about this person’s motives or lack of humility. Surely the influence of Godly men and women shining bright in the culture that we live in is a good thing?”
Again, it’s important to make sure we live balanced lives as worship leaders – and most importantly, as Christians first – at whatever level of “success” we find ourselves in.
The second thing I would suggest is that we refrain from bashing our fellow workers who end up in the limelight for whatever reason – sometimes that critical spirit is nothing more than the voice of jealousy talking. Instead, let’s pray for them that God will be first, and that many will come to Christ because of their witness.
I agree , we need to have a healthy balance. We can worship with all we have and still remember that it's a submitted gift. David wouldn't dare hurt or badmouth Saul because he was an anointed king & David had submitted himself to the God who had anointed them both. Much better to be careful about what we say and make sure it's with a heart of love and a motivation to help.
yeah,rick,,,,,,oftentimes,we compare our spiritual lives to our fellow believers which ends criticizing them....
we, the children of God are called to be humble....so instead of uttering words of criticisms ,why not be on your knees and praise God for this person and pray for him/her as well
Interesting article, but pretty naive really. Worship has always been about a heart connection to God. In any worship setting, be it Hillsongs in full cry or the little church down the road, people will either connect or they won't, and it doesn't really matter who is playing at the front. It is certainly true to say that the modern worship idiom has energised and revitalised many folk who were getting somewhat jaded in their worship (including me), but it does also have it's dangerous side if one gets into the situation of "not being able to worship" unless the music is perfect.
On the subject of money/fame/adulation, it is simply human nature for people to elevate other people. If worship leaders have their hearts and minds in tune with God, they'll handle it well and become better servants. If they don't, they'll have problems. But the same is true of anyone who attains status or position in any church. Those that elevate them probably need to check the attitudes of their own hearts... but this is hardly a new problem in the church.
I for one am very glad that there is an industry out there providing us with new music and the enthusiasm and energy that goes with it. It certainly enables most churches to better serve their congregations. And for many musicians and writers, it is about time they were able to live slightly more comfortably from their efforts. Perfectly scriptural.
As with all things, those that keep their hearts and minds subjected to God will be fine, others will stumble. It has always been this way, from the time of David.
I'll have to agree about the political agenda of Andy Flannigan, his remarks are highly predictable given his political views, and he does the discussion little good. Yes, some churches have some pretty good gear (ours doesn't!), and yes there will always be poor people down the road who could benefit if we sold every last thing the church owns and gave it away. It is all a matter of balance and discernment. I lean more towards the Acts 2 model myself... and Jesus was pretty clear on the subject when challenged over the cost of some ointment.
Can performance be worship? A performance dedicated to God is surely the highest form of worship for the people concerned. If they aren't dedicating it to God... in their hearts... then no.