Is modern worship biblical? Over the past year, I’ve really been in a state of questioning. I’ve been thinking hard about the church, worship, and the like. It’s been a pretty confusing experience for me. What makes it more confusing is that while I’ve been having these deep contemplations, I’ve simultaneously been a worship leader and heavily involved in my church. One of the questions I keep wondering is whether today’s worship is biblical.
Wonder is the basis of worship.
– Thomas Carlyle
What may seem like a weird question to some is a very serious and haunting question for me. It’s to the point where I hardly even want to be a worship leader anymore.
Is there anything wrong with playing a tune and singing a song to God so that others will want to sing along? No. But I think where modern worship goes wrong is where it becomes an ingenuine performance. If you’re more worried about your moves and your smile then you are trying to focus on worshipping God, there’s a problem. Worship isn’t a performance for people, and that’s what it’s become.
I’m not the main worship leader at my church, but I often lead and used to co-lead a team with my wife. My wife is taking a break from worship and so now I’m just helping out another team every other week. While I like singing songs to God, I don’t like feeling like my worship is a production.
Recently, the main worship leader at my church told me “keep your eyes open.” To which I replied “Why? When I’m really worshipping, I close my eyes.” It’s things like this that make me really question my place in modern worship. My genuine worship usually involves closing my eyes for brief amounts of time. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Teach someone the reasons why they should feel awe and wonder when they think of God, and they will worship Him without you trying to force it.
The fact that modern churches are telling worship leaders to make changes like this is pretty alarming to me. And the whole idea of “engaging with, leading people to worship” is just becoming very weird to me. You cannot make someone genuinely worship God. Only they can do that. Teach someone the reasons why they should feel awe and wonder when they think of God, and they will worship Him without you trying to force it.
I believe the job of a worship leader is to lead a congregation in a song that brings praise to God. That’s it. And by lead, I mean you actually worship through your leading of the song. I don’t mean: look at people, keep your eyes open, make it a production…etc. That’s not what it’s about. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with keeping your eyes open or looking at people while you worship, but making that a focus, and a requirement is where it’s a problem.
I could keep going on about this forever, but I won’t do that. I’ll try to wrap it up with this: worship is supposed to be a pure and genuine expression of praise and adoration. When it starts to involve performing and production which can hinder the worship leader’s ability to genuinely worship, I am not interested. Worship has to be real, raw, and emotional. That is–biblically–the most important thing about worship. So if we’re not making an effort to keep our worship services raw, then we’re failing. We’ve made a good production but that’s never what it’s been about.