For some of you back home, this is just John's broken record type stuff. But I thought I would post it to remind us of the good old days of the Shark Club Fellowship. It is from a letter I wrote a few days ago:
I guess I wasn’t very clear with the whole worship leader thing. I wasn’t saying that the church doesn’t need any worship leaders (as in the songwriting singing type). I was meaning to say that calling the guy who leads the singing on a Sunday morning a “worship leader” is not really something we got from the Bible. It is just part of the Christianese that has been added to scripture by our whole evangelical tradition. Not that that makes it bad or good – I don’t see it as un-biblical, but as extra-biblical (like so many other things we do to worship God). Worship, in the New Testament, invariably refers to a life changed, what happens when you see that Christ’s values are at odds with the values of the world, and you start to change your life to reflect his values. Singing songs might bring you some of the way into that realization (it is sad how often it doesn’t) but the way we use the word, I feel often cheapens what Christ reveals worship to be: repentance, a re-thinking of how we act, unto the living out of the Kingdom of God. Like I say, eyes closed, hands raised and songs being sung might be one of the first actions in that new direction, but the prominence we give to musical worship often means our actions don’t go much beyond that place – as a matter of fact, that place is what we start to strive for. But striving for only what is at the beginning gets kind of gross. It’s like a runner making his main priority the start of the race, and then just kind of quitting after the first ten yards because he never put any importance on finishing the race.
For me almost a foundational maxim is the idea that I want to major on the things Jesus majored on and minor on what he minored on. From that viewpoint, the musical side of worship looks different. For instance, I think we could stop singing songs tomorrow and the Kingdom wouldn’t grind to a halt. Gleaning from the words of Christ there are some things that are major in the lives of kingdom people: friendship with the poor and the losers seems to be a big one; living radically with your money (ie: giving heaps of it away) seems to be another; prayer also seems to be a really big deal.
And that is what I was trying to get at in my talk. That the most important role that music can play in a church service is facilitating prayer, and I even think we should see it as that. That 35 minutes of singing? I say don’t call it worship time, call it prayer time, because that is something we can really get down to in a service where we meet together. But then God help us to not stop there. It seems to me that for Christ prayer was the spiritual re-charge time for another venture out into the people, as he headed out once again to waste his life on the losers and reveal the goodness, kindness, and compassion of God. So then worship is when we take our cups of cold water, and our money, and our time and we pour it out on the people who Jesus poured it out on.
Yikes, I might be only muddying up the waters here. These things are probably best discussed over coffee.
So when’s coffee?? I am way free for the next few days.