Originally Written for 1/24/10
I discovered this quote this week by a gentleman named D.A. Carson:
“In an age increasingly suspicious of (linear) thought, there is much more respect for the “feelings” of things – whether a film or a church service. It is disturbingly easy to plot surveys of people, especially young people, drifting from a church of excellent preaching and teaching to one with excellent music because, it is alleged, there is “better worship” there. But we need to think carefully about this matter. Let us restrict ourselves for the moment to corporate worship. Although there are things that can be done to enhance corporate worship, there is a profound sense in which excellent worship cannot be attained merely by pursuing excellent worship. In the same way that, according to Jesus, you cannot find yourself until you lose yourself, so also you cannot find excellent corporate worship until you stop trying to find excellent corporate worship and pursue God himself. Despite the protestations, one sometimes wonders if we are beginning to worship worship rather than worship God. As a brother put it to me, it’s a bit like those who begin by admiring the sunset and soon begin to admire themselves admiring the sunset. “
I sometimes feel as if much of our (meaning the Christian church at large, not necessarily LBC) discussions on worship center on “worship” rather than God. Recently I listened to a conversation on worship styles and the speakers made the point that we as music directors need to focus on “leading people” and not “leading music”. This applies to us as a choir, as well, because we need to lead our congregation (ie, people) in worship.
It’s very easy to get caught up in two extremes in regards to this area: the first is pure emotionalism where we do worship worship rather than worship God. The other is when we become so focused on musical perfection that we then worship the music instead of worship God. God wants us to give Him our best, that’s for sure, but if we focus on doing “our best” out of a sense of duty to the music, we loose focus. Likewise, if we get all caught up in emotion and just say, “Well, it’s for God and what matters most is my heart” then we begin to shift our sight off of Him and onto ourselves.
This is the fine line that we must walk as worship leaders in our congregation. So how do we do it? The simplest way is to ask this question of ourselves: “Is what I’m doing focusing me on Christ or something else (myself, the music, etc)?” If we walk away thinking, “Man, that was a great song!” instead of “I really experienced Jesus” then we probably have our answer.