The New Trend in Worship Music
If you are on social media at all and are involved in the worship community, I am sure you have seen them. You cant help but click on them. These articles usually have some shocking title that lures you in such as “Worship isn't a rock concert” or “Is modern worship missing the point?”
These articles talk about worship trends in church today and how they are all about creating a show or concert feel and atmosphere. They focus on “trends” such as lighting, fog, media, and stage design and how these tools are used to create an environment that is not pointing people to Christ. They even talk about modern worship music and how many of todays songs are not deep in theology or written in a way that makes it easy to sing along with or worship to.
As someone who has been involved in the Christian music industry, worship community and volunteer and full-time ministry for over 15 years, I have my own thoughts on a trend that I see happening more and more.
The New Trend
The trend I see is articles like these that only focus on the negative side of these things that are popular in worship today, and not how they help in and add to the overall vision of what churches are doing. I get it, there are similarities between what you see at a concert and what you see in some churches. We shouldn't try to be like the world right? Come on.. Really? I read one of these articles recently that talked about the idea that having the lights down lower promotes performance over participation.
I know many people feel uncomfortable when other people can see them or hear them when they are worshiping. I know that perspective needs changed but it would seem having lights lower and music a little louder, would allow them to feel more comfortable and free to worship. I also know that when people can hear other people singing louder that makes them feel more comfortable to sing out louder. As people get more comfortable stepping out and worshiping those unhealthy perspectives can change.
I know sometimes people will just disagree on styles of worship but that is the great thing about having so many different styles of churches even in small communities. We don't all have to do things the same way because different methods will reach different people. Yes, lights, fog and songs about Jesus love can be used in a way that aren't promoting or creating an atmosphere of worship but you could say the same thing about a room with all the lights on, only hymns and only songs that use King James terminology. All things are being redeemed, and all creative ideas can be used for the glory of God and for furthering His Kingdom.
The Real Issues
I don't believe any of those articles ever really hit on the real issues that are going on in worship in any style of church. I believe in all cases, what qualifies our worship and the means in which we use to create a rightly focused environment for worship, is a heart issue and knowing and teaching the why behind what we do.
I don't believe you have to have fancy lights and the latest and greatest sound equipment to be able to worship but, they can add to the creative atmosphere and help some be moved into a place of worship that they may not without them. I do think as we experience worship in certain ways, and in certain environments, we tend to take note of what was present there and can sometimes equate those things as necessary or as the standard for what is needed. I, personally, prefer an environment that allows me to worship where all my senses are being stimulated.
When there is excellence in not just the songs that are chosen, but in each instrument, each transition, each vocal part, the lighting and vibe that is set by how stage pieces and creative elements are used, the quality of the sound and mix of the band, it all takes me to a deeper level and being able to see the worship of each of those elements spurs me on to worship even more.
The Heart of the matter
I believe the key for redemption of all things we do and offer in worship today is the why behind it and where our hearts are in it. I believe that has never changed throughout all generations. We can use all the latest technology or we can use a single acoustic guitar and voices, or even a piano and pipe organ, but whatever we do, however we do it, if our heart isn't to praise and lift up the name of Jesus, they are all misguided and shallow.
Something I have noticed in churches that either have great worship or don't have great worship is the presence or absence of the proper understanding and teaching of worship and a gospel culture. If people know and experience gospel culture and community, then they get worship. If you have a church that doesn't understand what it means to be the church, leadership that doesn't lead in serving others and growing disciples, then you'll have a church that doesn't understand worship and gets preoccupied with drums, lighting and fog.
If a church knows what it means to be a community of believers who are all serving and loving one another because Christ first loved them, then they worship and praise out of what God has done for them and what He is doing through them. Worship comes from the heart and if the heart isn't changed by Jesus, then it's not going to be able to be led in worship no matter how it is done in that church.
Worship is a way of life that happens daily through every choice, thought, and action we take. Sunday morning worship through songs, communion together and offering are an overflow, and outpouring of the rest of our life outside of those moments. Teaching and leading people into what a lifestyle of worship is and what that looks like is more important than what we use to create our Sunday morning environments.
We need to stop attacking each others methods though and focus on the real issues that keep us and our churches from truly worshiping God. If we can shift our focus to making disciples who know, commune with and worship God in all areas of their lives, then we will have Sunday mornings full of people who are engaged in worship, our churches will be full of gospel culture, and community will be contagious.
Lyle Chastain, Co-Host of People Of Freedom