These days there is a lot that goes into the “Worship Experience.” At church, we sing songs to Jesus before listening to a sermon prepared by our Pastor. For me, this order helps prepare my heart to hear from the Word. I have attended worship experiences that were led by a single person and acoustic guitar. On the flip side, I have been to live concerts by worship bands that included elaborate light shows and smoke machines.
I love music. I love it to the point that it is not sustainable for me to purchase as much music as I wish to consume. Thankfully there are services like Rdio and Spotify which allow me to stream as much music as I want for a flat fee, and it’s legal. Christian music has always fallen behind in relation to where culture takes popular music. There are always a few Christian artists that seem to be close to the bleeding edge but it is definitely hit or miss. This is why I have never been satisfied by Christian music alone. This may have more to do with my sinful nature than anything else, but secular bands seem to push the envelope where Christian bands tend to move forward when and if they have to.
Over the last few years I have watched a few churches make changes to their worship experience that seem more aligned with the concert experience I am familiar with when I go watch a band perform at a concert venue. Hillsong United is one of those bands who I have seen perform live. Singing those songs to Jesus while experiencing a lot of stage theatrics really made me question what I was connecting to. Here is a new project from Hillsong United which is comprised of Worship song remixes that are very inline with music today.
For me, the light shows, high definition screens and other technology used to make for an awesome display is a distraction. I love technology so I want to look at everything and figure out how it was done. I like seeing various forms of technology working together to make something look really cool. I am not sure I could get past that and Worship through it. To me it just makes me feel more like I am part of the world since I experienced such theatrics in the world before the church. I also like music that I can understand easily. If I always have to read from a screen to know what words are being sung, how can I worship distraction free?
I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with music like this. Music will always evolve and change. We no longer stand in church and sing hymns a cappella anymore either. The fact that the music is getting more electronic does not bother me either. I kind of like it. I like the music hitting me in the chest. The louder the better, especially to the point where I can’t hear my own voice. I look at the sound systems our church has and think about how sad it is that those giant speakers have to play music so softly. It’s the equivalent of a 90 year old who drives a Corvette. Miles are put on them, but they are gentile miles.
The questions I have been asking myself are as follows:
- Will music more focused on the actual music itself connect me more with God or less?
- Is it the words that are sung or just getting lost in the music itself that will draw me near to Him?
- If I am looking to Heaven or closing my eyes, what is the point of the lights and smoke machines?
- Will a weekly Worship experience like this make it impossible for me to Worship a capella or with a single acoustic guitar?
- Are people Worshipping God or the style of music?
- What does God say about the way we experience Worship?
- Should there be a discernible difference between Worship and secular music?
As you can tell, I am pretty torn. I sure love experiencing a band perform whose words I know while the music is played so loud it’s almost damaging to my anatomy, but is that a good Worship environment?
Luckily for me, I am surrounded by many people who I trust and respect in our church who lead worship. I know that they do not add to the Worship experience unless they know that Jesus can be found in it. I always used to complain about how Christian artists were so behind the times when it came to music and now I am here saying that I am not sure I am ready for those who are to lead worship in church. I guess I am torn. Maybe it’s my sin that makes me fear I will get lost in the music instead of Jesus. If I sound a little confused, it’s probably because I am. I am still processing my thoughts and wondering how God will reveal his works in this. I am not sure if I have more questions, or am just experiencing emotions that are confusing at this point.
I guess the real question is: Am I ready for a Worship experience like this?
What do you think about this? Do you think more flashy worship experiences will bring people closer to God or just be a distraction? Feel free to express your thoughts in the comment box below.