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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First sentence - can't quite find what it says. Do you mean that it's possibly lazy to call lyrics shallow?

And yes, the Lord is very concerned about our depth. This is the point of so many epistles, especially Pauline ones.  (I can hear Paul now - "don't worry about being deep or profound, forget the depths of Christ's riches, just make sure you're focused on Him...")

If by shallow you mean "simple", that's different. but if you actually meant "depth", the Bible definitely encourages depth as a very important thing to strive for. And perhaps shallow lives and relationships with God produce shallow lyrics. Or maybe just lazy, deep people produce shallow lyrics. But certainly, shallow people can't produce deep lyrics.

My point isn't that the Lord doesn't care about depth, it is that I think what is most important is whether or not our offering is for him.  Simple, shallow, deep, complex.  If it's done for the glory of God, that is what God wants.

I know plenty of people who have invested their lives in getting to know holy scripture, who are experts to the experts and know more about about the Bible and can have deep theological discussions about God and still deny Him.  

Sure, as we grow more depth will be had.  But we're placing emphasis on depth where no real emphasis is needed.  

Really - in the end the depth perception (ha!) problem has more to do with our unwillingness to engage the song even more to figure out what the author wrote and why. 

Hillsong is constantly berated here... but then I sit and listen to some of the things that the Darlene, Houston, and others say about their songs and I realize that there is a lot more depth there than we think there is...

We're way to quick to write-off new music as shallow when really, we're the shallow ones as we deny that there could be any real depth there.

"...may your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep His love really is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it.  Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God."

I agree with your thought on the listener's own "depth perception."  Any work of art we don't engage we see only the surface, so it seems shallow.  In contrast, I think of when someone explains a song like "It Is Well With My Soul", and you see the author's kids sinking in the Atlantic, and you learn that the author perished himself trying to rescue his wife from a burning train wreck. You gain some depth yourself as you explore the depth of the song.

I must be weird -- the first thing I find in Hillsongs (both the standard and the crazy United ones) is depth -- honest writing that explores, in an engaging way, some aspect of the Christian life, and how it might be lived.

And yes, simple does not necessarily mean shallow.  It's hard to find a deeper song than "Jesus Loves Me" within the context of thirty-two words, none longer than six letters.

Obviously one isn't being very deep if his or her offering isn't for the Lord - right?  It's not even a worthwhile distinction really. Of course our offering has to be for Him.

To say that God cares less about depth and more that we're offering to Him is like saying that a car's brakes are less important than it's wheels. 

But more depth is expected of those longer in the Faith - perhaps even the same words are used by all, but it should mean much more to the mature ones. (IE - deeper.)

Obviously one isn't being very deep if his or her offering isn't for the Lord - right?  It's not even a worthwhile distinction really. Of course our offering has to be for Him.

To say that God cares less about depth and more that we're offering to Him is like saying that a car's brakes are less important than it's wheels. 

But more depth is expected of those longer in the Faith - perhaps even the same words are used by all, but it should mean much more to the mature ones. (IE - deeper.)

If it isn't for the Lord, it doesn't contribute positively to the spiritual health... but I think a lot has been done in other names that has plenty of depth to it...  depth that has a lot of positive impact.

I suppose if I had to choose a car without wheels or breaks, I'd take the one with wheels.  While the two systems work strongly together, a car without wheels is more severely restrained than a car without breaks.

But that's not the kind of depth we're talking bout, so irrelevant point.

Now you're just arguing to hear yourself argue.

Now you're just arguing to hear yourself argue.

Wow... you really just said that.  I'm sorry to see that the discussion has reached this level.

Apparently it has. Just your reply seems to prove my point.

Any work of art we don't engage we see only the surface, so it seems shallow

Bingo.  There are a lot of church songs out there that are junk.  Yes, Hymns included.  MOST of any hymn book loaded with silly songs...

However, in the end, what gives a song depth and meaning is the depth and meaning that the audience gives it.  Sure, knowing the history has its place, but let's face it, the pursuit of a song's history isn't something the average person is going to do.  

In the end, we have to be conscious enough to prevent our prejudices from ascribing false value, be it good or poor to a work.  Just because a work appears to be shallow doesn't mean that it was to the author, and it doesn't mean that it won't find depth with a congregation.

@Cory - silly, or just 19th-century style in the poetic language?  I would challenge you to sit down with a hymnal and think, not about the word order or the occasionally chokingly bad rhymes, but about what the song is actually saying, and see if such songs are still in a majority in, say, any denominational hymnal, or one of the major issues today.

Human beings wrote these things, human beings that put their pants on in the morning, went to work, got laid off from work, had diarrhea, lost kids and wives in childbirth, and all that, just like us.

@Stevo & Cory - I think I first inserted the term "lazy" into the discussion.  A lazy poet is satisfied when he gets a rhyme even if it forces the words into weak expression, ugly metaphor or confusing theology.  He just likes the way the words sound and bypasses the judgment area of his brain in order to get the song on its way. 

"Depth" doesn't mean "cool, secret stuff."  If you want shallow teaching, find some Christian guru who promises to teach you "deep things of God."  I guarantee you'll get fluff.  A person deeply in love takes time, effort and energy, sacrificing the shallower pleasures of life, to know their beloved better, to say things meaningfully.  A deep poet takes the time to find the right word.

There are right words, and there are stupid words ("stupid" meaning mindless cliches tossed out giving a vague sense of meaning).  Now in the Body we do have varying degrees of poetic ability.  I set to music some songs by a nine-year-old boy.  His poetry was very Jesus-centered and full of joy; but he had some words which were in the wrong order.  I turned them around and showed him how they gave the song more meaning, and said, "It's your song - do you want me to change them?"  He did, because he wanted other people to understand this very simple but special offering he gave to God.

Yes, hence my response to Toni. Handel's Messiah has some words, but not a lot of them. But the force and timing of those words is meant to indicate something very profound. I like your explanation of lazy - kind of like a lot of country music we hear these days. And sadly, a lot of Christian music. Some country songs could be written with nothing more than a cliche dictionary in hand.

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