Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Do Worship Teams Send the Wrong Message?

 I think they do.

First of all, I do believe that singing is an important part of a congregation’s corporate worship of God. After all, we are told in Psalm 100:2 that we are to:
“Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.” (Psalm 100:2, NKJV)
We are also told to:
“Let the word of God 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.” (Colossians 3:16, NKJV)
I am not advocating that we do not sing. It is amazing how long the church got along without them. However I think the idea of “Praise and Worship Teams” are both a detriment and have run their course.
For some reason we have allowed the idea to take hold that pianos or organs are no longer conducive to worship. Now a days you almost can’t go into a corporate worship without being “bombarded” by one or more guitars. In most cases worship team members are made up of “would be performers” who in most cases perform rather than minister. Mind you I am not judging motives nor hearts when I make this observation. It is simply too easy to spot a performance rather than ministry.
Let me give you five reasons why I believe that most worship teams send the wrong message.
  1. The worship team and music ascend to a greater position than the word of God.

Typically the pulpit is removed from the platform and the Word of God is relegated to a second place position behind the “worship” portion of the service. We have developed the dangerous idea that the music is at least as important if not more important than the preaching/teaching of the Word of God. The centrality and supremacy of God’s Word is minimized, however unintentional it might have been.

  1. The Worship team and music often signals a people- centered emphasis rather than a God-centered emphasis.
Much of today’s so-called contemporary music is man-    centered rather than God-centered. Today’s worship music  is more emotional rather than didactic or worshipful. It is  difficult to differentiate between much of today’s so called  praise and worship music and the Top 40 songs on the pop  charts. John MacArthur has called much of today’s praise  and worship music “7-11” music. It is the same “7 words”, sung “11 times.” I call it Jesus is your boy-friend music.
  1. The Worship team and music often telegraphs that “they” are more important than the congregation.
This is demonstrated at least three ways:
  • The congregation is not “engaged.” Much of the time the worship leader or team have closed their eyes, begun swaying back and forth, and have almost “forgotten” that there is a congregation to engage in God-centered worship

  • Many times the songs chosen are not “geared” for a congregation to sing. Often congregants cannot connect with the songs that are chosen. Many times the key is too difficult for the congregation to sing.

  • Various members of the worship team are “high-lighted” and/or show-cased leaving the congregation unable to follow or accompany.

  1. Worship teams and music often have projected that music is more important than the way that we are to live.

Again, it is not my intention to judge the hearts and/or motives of worship teams and leaders, but it seems     that the casualness of dress and standards of those     who are members of worship teams can send a wrong message. It seems at times talent or ability is more     important than character.
  1. Worship teams and music often send the message that the worship” portion of the service is a concert rather than singing praises to God.
Again I don’t think this is necessarily intentional.           Many times the music is highly rated and emphasized       while the preaching or teaching is “tolerated” or             treated as an interruption to the so-called “worship           portion.”
I am not opposed to good music with lyrics and melody that excite out spirit to adore, praise, worship, love, and appreciate our God to the utmost. Rarely does any of today’s praise and worship music or services have this effect on me.
I think there is a place and time for “concerts” or “praise teams.” I just don’t think the time and place is in the corporate gathering of the body.

P. S. I am not "lumping" all worship teams into one bunch. I do not for one minute believe that there are some worship teams who have pure motives and truly lead God's people into worship. I just believe it is rare and not the norm.

P. S. S. I typed this in Word and cut and pasted it into blogger. I can't fix the spacing. I don't know why I can't type in Word and copy into blogger without format issues. I apologize.


Scott said...

Good post. I agree for the most part.

I would take issue with the "top 40" comment simply because every era of hymn writing has in some way reflected the sensibilities of the times they were living in. I agree that the lyric content is often week, but to disregard the music simply because it incorporates "contemporary" music is short sighted. You should read some of the comments by editors in some of my antique hymnals and song books. Songs written for the Sunday School were being promoted as being "useful" for the adult worship as well. Some of the songs in question we now consider "traditional" hymns. Music changes with the times.

Now, having said all that, I agree with the majority of the post. The concert-style performances of most praise bands is shameful. Many pop bands in Christian Music started out as praise bands, and so now everyone thinks this is the way to break into the music biz. Not exactly humble worship leadership.

Thanks for the post, Gregg.


Great post which I agree with much of what you wrote. Good for you on your getting your blog for us I would miss it.


Persis said...

I understand your concern and agree that more often than not, the musical portion of worship takes precedence over the preaching of the word where singing = worship.

I serve on the "worship team" at my church. We are under the oversight of one of the elders and the preaching elder chooses the songs for the service. I'm thankful that we see our place as supporting the congregation in their singing and having the music take a back seat to the lyrics of the songs. This is probably because of the spiritual climate that the elders have endeavored to set to honor the Lord.

KC Bob said...

I resonate with what you are saying Gregg but each week I see so many young lives changed by the Word of God as it is proclaimed in both song and preaching.

Gregg Metcalf said...

Scott - Thanks! You are probably right about the Top 40 comment. My real meaning was simply in some cases you can't tell a secular song from a so called religious song by the words.

Yvonne - thanks!

Persis - I know this "smarts" for those who are on worship teams. I do believe there are a few sincere teams, I just believe they are few and far between.

Bob - I truly hope that some lives are really changed. I find the change is really not real nor lasting.