I started playing worship music nearly twenty years ago. It began as an ever present desire to sing and play for the King. To stand in a place where the music made a difference in peoples lives. It didn't matter what I played, or how I played, I just led with my heart.
No worship team. No microphones. No wires. No lights. No soundboard.
Just myself, and my acoustic guitar, up behind the podium, with a heart for worship.
In that church where it all began it was never an uncommon thing for people to come to the "Alter" as I played. Not because "I" was playing, but because within those songs people felt Gods' Spirit moving, calling them.
People had reasons to come forward and give "Praise" to God. To kneel up in front, giving "Thanks" to Him for all of His loving care in their lives.
Others came and knelt with tears of sorrow, something private between them and the Savior.
Whatever the reason, they came, and they knelt before Him and His throne.
Sometimes a person would come alone, and when they felt they were through they returned to their seat.
Other times someone would come and kneel to pray and people felt the need to come forward and pray with that person, and they did.
That is where I fell in love with "Worship Music."
And it wasn't just the "Worship Music" when these things took place. People went forward during the Pastor's sermons. People went forward to pray after listening to someone testify.
The church was filled with people of every gift, and anywhere there was a gift given, God used that gift to speak to peoples hearts.
But I look at my experience with Worship Teams and churches today, and I find myself asking the same question again and again, "where did it all go?"
Something different now. Not everywhere. But many places.
Today when I stand in the prayer circles that Worship teams often have before the service, I find so many young people expressing concern in their prayers that the"congregation" would see Christ and not them. And it's not that I don't understand the principle behind the request but when it all started for me I never heard those words uttered in such a way.
Pastors preached like there was no tomorrow. Teachers taught for all they were worth. In every corner of the congregation you could find people serving with their gifts because God gave it to them to use.
Today I have an electric guitar, a pedal box, wires going everywhere, microphones, a sound board, lights, visual media, and the list goes on and on,...and on. And it's not just me, but "church" can often include a small army of people and equipment.
As for the internal workings of many teams, the song lists that come out each week are often put out late in the week, practices are short, the team members often spread to the four corners of the earth during any given week as life for each makes it's twists and turns. And all too often Sunday morning finds many teams scrambling an hour before the service to put something together.
It's more work, it's more time consuming......and I can't remember the last time I saw someone get up from their seat in the congregation..walk up to the front of the church..and kneel to pray to God because of something on their heart that needed attention right there and then.
I started because I heard a call and was given the desire to play. I saw weekly how God used the notes of the music to move peoples hearts. Sure I am biased towards music but it's because it's in me, I hear it. I see it, it is me. And it's more often than not very imperfect with an assortment of bad notes thrown in, but it is what speaks to me, and it is what I have seen speak to others.
My desire to play has not dimmed but I am beginning to question the results. I often wish I was back at that podium in that little church.
Yet I strive ahead, week by week feeling like "I know" it should all work together somehow. All of the "technology" that we have today has the combined ability to make the larger church seem just like the smaller church where people are moved by what they hear and what they see, because they see Christ, and they hear Christ, and they come to know Christ.
I search always for a way to make use of it all so that one more person will find Christ. One more person will find light in the darkness.
Our music should move people in a way that keeps them growing, keeps them encouraged, and keeps the words of Christ ringing in their ears throughout the week. It's what it's all about.
No not quitting, just taking a minute to consider my place in the earth, and somehow to come to a working plan for using all of this "stuff" that we have in our churches today to get back to "Worship."
Hi Michael, I understand exactly what your saying and the deep yearning that many of us who led worship in a different era have for the wonderful 'body ministry' that worship once engendered. I was 72 years old yesterday and long to see Gods people worship as they once did, when songs were simple and easily remembered and which freed up the congregation to really hear God and bless others as they ministered to each other out of what they had heard. I was struck by a recent article I read by David Murrow. It's well worth reading at. http://churchformen.com/how-were-off-the-mark/why-men-have-stopped-...
God bless you and continue to lead you.
Thanks for the reply John, and yes that was a very good article.
ok i did not read this before i posted that article in here. I was so touched by it as well. Recently (3-4 weeks) this subject has been comming to me in some way form or manner. Worship, the real meaning. This is a concern/heart cry for me as well. And i too have said, is it me Lord?
The worship music and the preaching go hand in hand in a Church service. If the preaching is lacking, the worship response will be lacking. Also, I find that sometimes you need to scale it back. Less is more kind of thing. Sometimes we will scale the worship team back to one vocalist and an acoustic guitar. That will definitely bring the response you speak of (at least in my experience). Something about intimate worship....
TBH I'd disagree about worship & preaching being connected - in my experience. Worship response is usually a reflection of where the people are with God - training is a part of that, but only a small one. Intimate worship doesn't develop from excellent teaching, but from living lives that are in close and open relationship with the Father and a heart of thanksgiving.
But there's also something about the songs we sing - since in this context we're talking about sung worship, rather than all the other kinds. Not all 'worship' songs are worshipful, and not all draw us toward God.
The first and most important thing is -are YOU moved when you worship? Are you able to worship at home with just you and the guitar or piano, or do you need a response to propel you into worship? I do love it when everyone is lifting their hands, or clapping, or I can hear the congregation above the band in my ear monitors. But if that doesn't happen I pick a place in the back of the room where I imagine the Savior listening to my worship, my praise, my confession, and I sing to Him.
I am where I should be doing exactly what I should be doing. Nothing can take that away. Sometimes the congregation is led not by a leader, but by a worshiper.
This is an interesting series of posts. I appreciate the feedback. I have been feeling the same thing for a few years. For me, what makes it worse is that I am not really moved myself by much of the music that is being pushed to the front of the mainstream, as far as 'worship' is concerned. Don't get me wrong: there are some good songs. But they have sacrificed much of the Spirit of God in the interest of formula and record sales. There are years and years of good songs that can't really be played anymore without infringing on or alienating some demographic.
Personally, I prefer the fringe, where things are spontaneous, relentless, passionate, filled with the Spirit of God, filled with life, and most importantly, that are relying solely on God and not anything that I can do on my own, where I am just a vessel prostrate before the Father. It isn't about me or anyone else for that matter; it is about God.
Also, I think that most worship services are short and sweet and don't give enough room for people to actually move past the daily drudgery, struggles and a week's worth of all of the stuff that fills the mind instead of just thinking about worship. By the time anyone is starting to forget about those things long enough to get into a frame of mind and heart that allows for worship, we've moved on to the sermon, an alter call, a closing song, etc. The whole time, many are just watching the clocks for the moment that they can move on to the next thing on their agenda. I long for something better than this. It is my deepest prayer. Peace and Blessings
You're absolutely right. It should be something better than this. May your prayer be answered. The only thing I can say is if you are not moved, something needs to change. Also, be aware, I've done this a long time. The fringe is a moving target.
Thanks for the response Brad. :) I have been doing this for years as well. Going on mission trips for the last 12 years has kept me grounded. I have had the opportunity to worship in paces where they have no instruments, only voices.; no electricity, but it is very electric. God uses this to remind me. He also gives me opportunities to film it, take it back to the states and show people how they are quite possibly 'missing the mark' to use a theological idiom.
Also, I can live with being a moving target. They are harder to throw things at, hurl things at, shoot things at. Worshiping the Lord, Innovating as I go...in the name of Jesus. Peace and Blessings Brother.
A question, if you don't mind - why do you perceive 'real' worship happening on the fringe, and where is the fringe now?
The reason I ask: I grew up in a traditional baptist church, but when I was saved and the filled with the Spirit (late 70s/early 80s) became involved in house/community churches where the worship was pretty much always relatively simple, spontaneous (often the band was whoever brought their instruments that day) and pretty much always Spirit-filled. Over the last 30 years it *feels* like the songs and methodology have leaked out from there to the mainstream church, but the fire of the Spirit has been replaced with better music, finer songwriting and professional musicians. What I experienced in those early days was most certainly on the fringe of traditional Christianity - a new church that was emerging, rather than the liberal, post-modern emergent church that seems to have appeared more recently.