Worship: Philosphy

One of my twitter friends @youcanknowgod Michael Le(I can’t spell his name)wkawski just wrote a post that knocked me out of my chair. Lately I have been processing thoughts on worship. It all came from stuff that has come up at Discovery and questions that have been raised about Crusade recently.

I would just link you to his post here, but many of you wouldn’t bother to click it! So here is the post in its entirity. It puts alot of stuff that I have been processing lately into words. I agree 100% – the parenthetical comments are mine.

Michael says…

I think it’s important for the philosophy of the worship leader to match the philosophy of the pastor and the philosophy of the church service on Sunday. Here’s something I wrote and sent to all of our worship leaders, not as a response to anything, but as a reminder.

– I like upbeat and celebration rather than intimate and thoughtful. It’s okay to do these kind of songs, but make them the spice rather than the meal.

– I like to get up right after a rockin’ song, not after some prayerful meditation. I typically start pretty light and funny and conversational, so a slow song doesn’t set that up well. (This varies week to week at Discovery… so would only apply some of the time)

– I love ending the service with something loud and memorable. either a performance tune or a rockin worhsip song. get people leaving on a high note.

– We love opening the service with a popular cover tune. That kind of stuff unfolds people’s arms. If a guest is there and he hears a popular song, he will relax and be more receptive to the message. this isn’t a stand up and sing song. (This also gives folks an opportunity to get into the worship space…)

– We need to program and pick songs with the unchurched in mind. If it would sound confusing to someone who hasn’t grown up in church, we probably shouldn’t do it.

– We like songs for dudes. not necessarily love songs to Jesus about how beautiful he is or how intimate we love him. That may be true, but most guys don’t talk like that.

– We are rock and roll, and we like it loud

– I like a mix of songs that people will sing and maybe one new or newer tune each week. If it’s all new, then we will lose people. if it’s all old, then we will become boring. (This is a must!)

– I don’t like it when worship leaders set up songs for 2-3 minutes. The little sentences during intros or quoting a verse during a guitar solo is very cool, but in general, I’ll do the talking and you do the singing. I promise not to pick up your guitar during my sermon and lead 10 extra minutes of worship if you promise not to preach a sermon setting up a song.

– A worship leaders job is to lead people in worship, not just worship personally. If a singer has his eyes closed, he’s not engaging the crowd. you’re a worship LEADER. if nobody is following, you’re not leading.

– Think of how the words would sound to unchurched men. that’s the filter. If a song has a confusing lyric, we need to explain what it means or skip it.

– It’s nice when the songs fit the theme, but we connect those dots way more than our people do. there are some awesome songs that are just awesome to sing. the song right before the message and right after the message should fit the best…some of the other songs can just be great songs. if they all fit the theme, then that’s great…but an unsingable song that fits the theme doesn’t do much for most people.

– It may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s not…old hymns redone are also connecting points. People in Cartersville have some church background, so reaching back and pulling something that they remember and updating it is a great way to make a connection. (Same applies for Greenville)

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I’m not trying to preach at anybody by posting this, but Michael really has put into words alot of the things I have been processing lately. Head over to Michael’s blog and give him and Oak Leaf Church some love!

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6 comments

  1. Matthew Lilley · February 3, 2009

    I posted a long response at http://www.matthewlilley.com

  2. Rachel · February 4, 2009

    Wow! I surfed on over to your blog to check out the posting of the mall preacher interview and got sucked into this post instead.My initial reaction is that it sounds good, but it’s off from scripture, or at least my understanding of it. While it’s good to keep the unchurched in mind, the church remains a body of believers. It’s not our job to make our style of worship “acceptable” to outsiders because worship isn’t intended to be acceptable to man- it’s intended for the heart of God. And the things that please God are often things that require sacrifice in the “keeping up appearances” department. (I mean, David danced naked as an act of worship!)Over the years, I have noticed that it is almost always dangerous when one part of the body of Christ tells another part how to function. The only part of the body that “gives orders” to the rest is the head, and Christ is the head. So, when a pastor tries to impose his ideas of how worship should be on a worship leader, things naturally get messy. He’s trying to give orders from the point of view of a completely different part of the body, and since his view is limited to his own giftings and the perceptions which often accompany this type of anointing, the well-intentioned ideas actually work to limit the Spirit moving in worship. Instead, shouldn’t a worship leader learn from other anointed worship leaders how to best serve in the capacity for which God has given them the gifts and passions to serve? I mean, if you were meant to be a stomach cell but yet the liver started giving you advice on how to do your job, do you think you would work at your full capacity? (here’s a link to a blog where an amazingly anointed worship leader is hosting 4 young men in his basement for a six month intensive discipling program)As for the unchurched and trying to appeal to them, it’s a noble goal and one that should not fall by the wayside during worship. However, look at the biblical examples of intense worship. In Acts 2 when the believers are praying in one accord and the Spirit of the Lord comes upon the people like a rushing wind and everyone begins to talk in tongues, this very odd act of Spirit-inspired worship caused two distinct reactions- many people came to faith and many people thought they were drunk. As a modern church, we cannot be afraid to worship whole heartedly, being lead by the Spirit into an intimate place of communion with God on Sunday mornings just because an outsider might not understand. The truth is that if they are an unbeliever, it’s not only unlikely that they will understand, it’s almost impossible for them to understand. The Bible says in 2nd Corinthians 3:14-16 that “their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” It’s not an unbeliever’s mind that needs to be changed, so making worship “acceptable” to them will not do the trick. It takes the work of the Holy Spirit stirring in their hearts and a willingness of the individual to accept Him and take a leap of faith. How exactly is that supposed to be done if our worship style in church is so structured that it fails to be Spirit-inspired?They might accept Christ or they might walk away, but that is their decision. Our job is to love them, accept them wherever they are, and continue to walk our lives genuinely. After all, isn’t it just as wrong of us to be “acceptable” to the world instead of trying to know and please the heart of God on Sunday morning for the hope of winning others to Christ as it is to be “churchy” during the week hoping that we would look good in front of others?For the record, I don’t really like disagreeing a public forum like this. However, I feel like this is a very important issue, one that deserves reflection and dialogue.

  3. Brad Christian · February 4, 2009

    Hey Rachel and Matt…Great comments. They bring up excellent questions.I don’t think any one person is right on this. I know I am definitely not 100% right and my views probably aren’t the same as our worship leader Marcus Barefeild. Thus why I have a disclaimer on this site that says that my views may or may not match that of Discovery Church and Campus Advantage (CA doesn’t really have anything to do with this!)There are a few questions that we have been asking ourselves. One of the main conclusions that I have come to is that worship has got to be God centered. I know that is a must at Discovery and I know Michael and his worship leaders would agree that its their main focus as well.I can’t speak for Oak Leaf, but if you read his blog for a while you will pick up that he is one of the least “seeker sensitive” church leaders out there. But that’s all I am going to say about being SS… not that there is anything bad about it for all you SS guys out there!Rachel – excellent question about should the pastor have any influence over the worship. To an extent I agree, but overall the pastor is the keystone for the vision of the entire church – not just preaching. Where there is no vision the people perish.You also raise the question that has been debated for years. Speaking in tongues is so controversial (in public at least) to this day you can basically divide churches into two categories. First the charismatic church which encompasses any and all churches or ministries that publicly speak in tongues. Second the non-charismatic church which encompasses ministries and church that do not speak in tongues in public. I don’t think either group is right or wrong. Personally I tend to side with the non-charismatic side, but that is where I come out of the Campus Crusade for Christ movement. I had to sign agreements that I would refrain from speaking in tongues for the entire time that I was on my summer project this summer (not that I ever have).Not trying to bring up the whole tongues or no tongue debate. I’m just saying that it relates to Rachel’s comment.One last thing… any concerns about why worship music needs to be effeminate or not – I hereby to direct to @garylamb or @chriselrod on twitter. They are experts on the topic of why men don’t go to church in America.

  4. Jason Ebeling · February 4, 2009

    Thanks for posting Brad, but I gotta say, this is a little over the top in terms of a clear “why” that goes with how he wants it done. Pretty much every why is personal preference. That’s fine, we all have them. But if that trumps biblical truth, there’s a problem of serious nature.Look, we don’t always get it right and I understand that. And we all need to be on the same page – pastor, worship leader, church, etc and I understand that. But the page we need to be on is not the one written just by the pastor, but the one the pastor read that is written by God himself.Obviously I don’t know Michael or his heart and so I wouldn’t want to jump to extreme conclusions, but based solely on what you copied here, the spirit and wisdom of God appears to be lacking as having any type of influence on the decisions being made. I’m sure that’s not the case, but that’s how it reads.Some of his tips are preferences I’d agree with, but a number of points Rachel brought up, resonate as well.Keep the discussion coming though. Like it says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” [Proverbs 27:17]

  5. Dean Hewitt · February 5, 2009

    Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.Kinda hard to imagine this worship "philosophy" thing is still going on so I guess it's time once again for me to chime in.What is your source for all matters of faith and practice?…the pastor?..other leaders?…other blogspots?…shouldn't the answer be quite obvious?…God did write us a book ya know?There is a ton of prerequisite here, but let's assume you are what you say you are, that being a Bible believer. If we then being Bible believers, we shouldn't have any objection about utilizing God's instruction for ALL matters, worship being the topic at hand, allowing God to be true and every man a liar, ok? OK! How am I doing so far? any questions?The Bible (KJV)is it's best dictionary. When a word is in question, take note of the topic and also the surrounding words in a passage. There are many other tips but that can be a blog all by itself. Take the word "worship" and look at everywhere in the scriptures it is used and form a definition. What do you come up with?…it should be "reverence".Where in the scriptures is worship associated with a "sing-a-long" that in some way has a function of having a "God's presence" experience or has the effect on a person that would have them make a conscience decision to either believe or reject the Gospel of the Grace of God? I just can't seem to find any references for that, help me out here. If you believe you are "closer to God" or gain some fraction of favor from God by singing or of doing things, you are creating a religion. Religion by definition is man's attempt to garner God's favor or asswage God's wrath. Israel, on the other hand in their covenant situation (which has been set aside in this present dispensation of the Grace of God) did have ordinances according to their law program concerning Temple worship. Singers were often appointed and at times paid for their services. If you study it through, it should be clear that modern day "worship" services are merely warmed over OT, covenant, sabbath keeping, Jewish, temple ceremonies. Rachael made a reference to the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 saying what took place there was the result of intense worship. On the contrary, what happened there was not a result of them doing anything other then obeying the Lord's instruction and tarrying for the promise spoken of in …Luke 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.Luke repeats the same message in Acts 1:4….as far as the "tongue speaking" well, isn't it plain it was in known languages and not some gibberish Hostillashundai blibber blabber you see in the charasmanic churches across the land. Biblical tongue speaking is always associated with known human languages and at the same time served a purpose. The Jews require a sign (1 Cor 1:22) and tongues are for a sign (1 Cor 14:22), and who was in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost?..Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven……since Israel is not in view today, but has fallen (Romans 11:11) the sign gifts have no function and anyone that says they speak in tongues today is simply fooling themselves.Back to the topic, the Lord Jesus Christ appointed Paul as the Apostle, the teacher and minister to the Gentiles in this present dispensation of the Grace of God. Since He is our pattern (1 Tim 1:16) and we are to follow Paul,(Philippians 3:17) we should pay careful attention to what Paul says.Paul mentions "worship" 6 times, 4 of them in a negative manner, and never says worship is anything else but to reverence.Paul mentions singing 4 times, the function of teaching in..Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.So ask your self this> is what you are doing in your "worship" service teaching the assembly the Word of Christ? Wouldn't it be "worship" to reverence God by following His instruction to us today by following the messenger He himself sent to us for this present dispensation, not of the law, but of the Grace of God?OK, I'll stop there,,,is this too long of a comment? I really tried to shorten it up, LOLGrace and Peace!

  6. Oak Leaf Church · February 5, 2009

    great comments here. since i started this, i thought i’d chime in. i don’t argue on blogs though, so this is just a comment.my post was all about personal preference. that was intentional. i have lots of thoughts about biblical worship, but i didn’t write about that in the original post.i was attempting to communicate our specific philosophy on style, which the Bible leaves pretty open. biblically, there is a time for sadness, rejoicing, loud drums and quiet melody. i totally get all of that.and worship isn’t for people…it’s for god. (i’d also argue that the church is not for christian people or not christian people but for God’s glory)anyway, to those thinking the post was all about style over substance…i agree and that was my point. i have a style of teaching and a certain style of worship leading compliments that in our specific setting. i’m not saying that everybody should share this philisophy and i’d encourage pastors to write theirs down so their worship leaders have clarity.

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