Found this interesting article and it has some great points regarding music and singing. How in many churches this has changed and the challenges today with technology, rock band driven music and even singablity.
Just sharing and interested in thoughts/discussion
The challenge to keep the music/singing alive and people engaged
Wake up? It's 12:52 and I haven't gone to bed yet, man.
I didn't sing a song last week as I felt the words were not right. Not for a believer. It was a song written by the churches worship leader. It was the song of someone not sure, confused and still seeking not the response needed to the sermon (Mark 5:1-20). You need to choose Jesus and know the Truth if you are going to keep Satan and his Demons from leading you away with lies.
When the words appeared my wife look at me with concern as I had said I was considering rejoining the worship band.
I occasionally won't sing songs because I can't go with the words at the time.
Would there ever be a time when that sound could be sung in church? Maybe that was just a slightly insensitive time to use it?
I wouldn't sing them either, if they weren't right for a believer. Hmm... Mark 5:1-20 is about the demon-possessed man, from whom Jesus cast out demons into many hogs, which responded in lemming fashion; and the man thanked Jesus and began to proclaim Him near and far. Now sometimes a song may be written so as to bring the listener to the point of invitation (thus the response may be begging).
I'm a coward about many things, but on an issue involving questionable meaning to a song I've always talked with the one responsible (sometimes it's a published song, so I talked with the pastor and other worship team leaders), first figuring out as precisely as I could where the difficulty lay. Sometimes it's a matter of word-order or emphasis due to the way the music flows; in the case you have described, it may be deeper.
Yeah, I won't sing "Gimme that Old Time Religion." And what with our church being one of those liberal west coast Methodist churches, we won't do Rich Mullins' "Awesome God" either, although perhaps if it were translated into German, we might. Have to check with the pastor on that. But that title is already in use with our band, since Vicky Beeching wrote such a lovely "Awesome God" song.
(On the other hand, I do really try to respond to requests from the congregation, and there are a few songs we've done because they were requested that I wouldn't have suggested myself.)
"Gimme that Old Time Religion" is an interesting song, though. It speaks of a yearning for actual New Testament faith, for the Body to love one another, to be able to endure persecution, to practice a Christianity that has not been commercialized and warped into nothingness.
One the other hand, we actually have a current example of Old Time Religion, namely the Orthodox Church, which actually uses the liturgies of Athanasius and Chrysostom, throughout the year.
Just to gently wander back on topic, Wednesday night was my first time leading worship since we moved churches: 1 lightly amplified acoustic guitar and 2 un-mic'd vocalists at the front for about 25-30 people. It seems that few struggled with hearing themselves, and most were too busy getting into God's presence to worry overmuch about how they sounded to the person next to them.
I wonder if people don't like to hear themselves for cultural/educational reasons, or if it might also be because worship is presented as 'perfect' in the technical sense, and singing a bit off-key or with a poor tone clashes too badly with expectation? I've felt for a long time that if people can't hear themselves over the worship team then that team are probably too loud (and that's possibly another discussion) even though I like to play a bit louder.
Fascinating! One of the biggest problems I've encountered with amplified music, especially in the louder songs, is praise team members who "can't hear themselves" and thus the monitors have to be boosted to near-feedback level. We didn't make them use the headsets like the band because the headsets make them look like Borgs.
I've never quite understood why you'd need amps for 25-30 people. Now -- to sound like a cranky old-timer -- in the hymn-and-simple-chorus days you couldn't hear the worship leader at all because the congregation was singing and praising God. They had the words on a screen and a general outline of the melody emanating from somewhere within the building, and it seemed quite wonderful.
Participation is and continues to be something to ponder. I think we can analyze, scrutinize and break it apart until Jesus returns. There are different personalities among churches. Just like people, some are more reserved, while others are boisterous. Another point to look at might be… how is your congregation worshipping and where is the Holy Spirit in all of it? Whether the worship is in a Tomlinesque key with stripped down acoustic guitars or highly produced, complete with smoke and lights, it’s not going to matter as much if the congregation is prayed up and has worshipped throughout the week. This is not to say the worship leader isn’t important but it is sort of a dance with the Holy Spirit setting the tone and the worship leader guiding the congregation.
Congregational singing isn’t as important as feeling and experiencing the presence of God. The points in the article are good, don’t get me wrong. There are even more things we can bring up, such as the physical layer of musicianship and technical issues, like incorrect words or poor sound systems. These can all be barriers to worship. But in the end the biggest barrier is our own hearts and the hearts of the congregation. Are we all prayed up? Are we coming with hearts yearning for a connection with the Living God? Without that, you can have all the working parts and still not have worship.
After ignoring the book of Galatians for many years (except for gleaning from some of its powerful concepts, such as the "Fruit of the Spirit" passage), I've recently taken such an interest that I tried to make it into a musical or a drama because it projected such immediacy to present-day attitudes; but its language was too 1st-century-specific to accommodate that. So I volunteered to teach a Sunday School class on it, which would force me to understand it. My problem was that I had viewed the opening chapters as a "bully/victim" situation, which was true, but only a symptom of a larger picture.
Galatians is a very early document, possibly the first thing written in what we call the New Testament, even before the Gospels were penned. What was bugging the church to prompt a letter from the Apostle? There are many themes of interest in this amazing letter, but in my present frame of mind I kept thinking, "This whole book is about WORSHIP STYLE versus WORSHIP ATTITUDE. Paul honks down on the Style as being an irrelevant issue, but the attitude being everything. These poor people thought, after all Jesus had taught them or their mentors, that how you did religion was an issue, when in reality God wasn't interested in the blood of bulls and goats offered by a cantankerous, inconsiderate, selfish people - and Paul is horrified when he sees Christians willingly returning to the same romance with Format, a cruel goddess if there ever was one.
It's immaterial over whether one is into current popular stuff or mossy traditional stuff; if your mind is on stuff, craving stuff (material or musical), it leaves less and less room for the Spirit of God do do his transforming work in the heart.
Basically we can talk nuts and bolts of worship until the cows come home but in the end what are we looking to accomplish? Participation is only part of the equation. There isn’t a direct proportion between congregational singing and worship. I don’t think it’s the metric by which we should measure worship. Maybe it makes us feel better as worship leaders if everyone sings heartily. In the end only God knows the condition of our hearts. Worship is the byproductand and the spiritual outpouring of our relationship with God. I feel that singing is not the right metric by which to measure the effectiveness of worship. I think better metrics might be individual transformations, involvement in prayer, and spiritual growth among congregants and intimacy, which may be tough to measure.
In the Bible, God never seems to measure, but only encourage worship.
Now maybe it's my own mindset: way back in college days a friend and I often talked about the analytical spirit; and since we were in a Pentecostal church we made it into a little red devil with horns and a huge slide rule. Sometimes we called it a "teaching spirit", and in jest would exorcise it from each other merely by quoting the Word, or ignoring it (the supreme insult to those who like to teach).
At church we were in a world distant from the nearby University, and could see the heavy influence of teaching spirits in those who were starting to put worship to the Measuring Stick. The 70's and 80's became the decade of the Church growth Specialist, who hoped to do the same thing for the church that was happening in the runaway market economy of those frantic years.
My Pastor didn't always sing during Worship time; he was flat on his face, lost to the world with God, way far from anyone's metrics; and that is what he desired for us. The transformation of people, involvement in prayer and spiritual growth were his thing -- and none of these three, I think, are directly measurable; or if they are, you don't want to tell the Measuring Nazis about them.