Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Are We Theologically Correct in Praise and Worship Time?

posted by Linda Mintle

bibleI’m not a theologian. But I’ve been a Christian for years and  still attend church. Lately, I’ve had three questions about the theology of the part of the service usually referred to as the praise and worship. I’ve noticed that we sing a number of songs that beg God to come and be with us. This has me confused.  Isn’t God already there when we assemble? Since He lives is us, we bring the presence of God to the service. I just want to thank Him for His presence and for indwelling me. So why do we spend so much time begging God to come?

Second, we sing songs telling God how bad and needy we are. Doesn’t the One who created us already know this. I certainly know I need God. Without Him, I would be a mess. That’s one of the reasons I am in church, to be mindful of my need of God on a regular basis. We do need God and the freedom He brings to our lives. A Sunday ago, we sang a song about freedom. It was a moving song that said, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” But the worship leader kept saying, “God we need your freedom, please bring your freedom. Bring down the walls so freedom can come.”Over and over we pleaded for God to bring His freedom yet we were singing, “where the spirit of the Lord is (He was right there), there is freedom.” Again, I was confused. God’s spirit was moving in that place. Freedom was available if people surrendered to the freedom giver. God did not have to be ordered to bring freedom. God was already doing what we sang, ‘Showering us with mercies and grace.” But the leader was shouting for the walls to come down in order for freedom to reign.

Third, most of the song lyrics are about me, my struggle and my need. I’m ready to sing to God, enough about me.  I want to declare how great He is, sing about His majesty, power, holiness… The more I focus on who God is, the deeper I go in worship. The more I worship Him, the more I am healed, changed, and see my sin. It seems that by the time we get to a song that actually talks about God, the time is gone.

I know worship leaders deal with criticism all the time so I rarely say anything. My husband was a worship leader for 16 years and heard everyone’s complaints about everything! But the theology of what we do and sing during that part of the service should be biblical. And as someone who has been in the faith a long time, I often find myself confused by the leading and lyrics of some of the songs. I’m not sure how this should be addressed since no one is asking my opinion. But my concern is that we don’t leave people thinking that God has to be begged to come to us, needs to be reminded of how needy we are, and that the focus should be on us.

  • Linda Mintle

    Some of these posts are worth repeating. This was one of those!

  • Pingback: Praise To God Is Not About How Good He Makes You Feel

  • Diana Symons

    Your post is a few years old now, and still an issue. I do wish we sang real songs of praise instead of songs about how blessed I am.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jeff

    You are so correct, in so many cases the position of “worship leader” has become just a job and/or a performance. I’ve said many time how can “they” lead me somewhere they’ve never been. When you’ve been there…..

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Joy

    Well said. It needs to be repeated. As a PK, I, too, hesitate to criticize our church worship. However, I am saddened that it seems as though we are attending a concert 95% of the time instead of being led in worship.
    When we first came to this church, I thought the congregation just wasn’t a “singing” one….until the Sunday a familiar worship song was led by the worship pastor. The place erupted in song!!! I looked around in amazement, and thought, “Wow! The people WILL participate when it’s one they know, and CAN sing!” Over the past 3 years, it has happened the two other times an older, scripture-based worship tune was included in the service.
    We love our church, and know it is “home” for us, but sure miss worshiping the Lord as a family!

  • Rhonda


    I saw this post and wanted to share that I am also a Worship Leader and completely agree with your points of view in this blog post. I would highly recommend checking out “Worship Matters” by Bob Kauflin. Awesome book and a great guide on biblical worship.


  • Linda Mintle

    I like your question. I would value someone who understands why the music is so loud to explain this. I’m honestly open to hearing why this is because I want to understand it. But even the young people complain that the music is often too loud and hurts their ears. When I hear a teen tell me that, I pay attention! So not sure why this is. I approached a 30 year old one Sunday who was covering his ears during the song service and asked him why he doing this. He said he felt assaulted by loudness. He may be an exception but it does seem that most churches feel the need to overpower us with sound. If anyone knows why this is, chime in…again I am open.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment BJ

    Great article! I thought my husband and I were the only ones. :)

    And can someone please tell me why the decibel level has to be 100+? At times I feel like Elijah & the prophets of Baal…”get louder – maybe he’s asleep or in the bathroom.” I enjoy loud music within reason, but could it be we feel a need to appeal to our base senses? (i.e. you can actually FEEL the drums & guitar vibrations). Is God honored when we “worship” with levels that are actually damaging our bodies? I have to admit this is challenging.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Lana

    I wouldn’t like my kids worshiping me. I’d be happy with them being happy, healthy and wealthy. And for that they just need to mind me and use their common sense which I, their mother, nurtured in them. The same – with God, our Father. He doesn’t really care if we worship him. When we mind Him – we’re safe and accomplished, and He’s happy just with that.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Linda Jo

    kinda like he knows what we are gonna ask before we ask, so why pray? I agree that we need to thank Him and worship Him.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Harold and Bea

    Now we have arrived. For so long we have been riding this “bus” alone, or thought we were. That is that well-meaning chorus writers are often musically literate, but too often not theologically literate.
    Maybe a trend could be started among these musically gifted people to check with a few more theologically grounded folk, there are quite a few still around, and use a ‘helpful critics eye’ to the chorus they are composing. I for one would vote for that and then when we “sing off the wall” we could actually WORSHIP rather than BEG.
    While we are at it… “Seven (words) come eleven (times) ” doesn’t even reach the numbers of times these ditties are often repeated. Give us and the Lord a break, PLEASE?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Linda

    I like what you wrote. I guess the other thing is the rock and roll and the worship becoming a performance. I grew up with rock and roll and really liked it, but I struggle with those things in the worship.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jeff

    You are so right on, we pray for leaders to be worshipers because it’s hard to lead if you’ve never been there yourself. Thanks for saying. A quote from a book I read “if you tell them who they are, you don’t have to tell them what to do”

  • Linda Mintle

    Thanks for the feedback. Wondering where others fall on this topic.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Deb

    Amen, and amen! Been teaching on this for years, too. “Worship” isn’t just singing – as that word has come to mean – but should be in living out our life of gratitude for what Christ has already accomplished – in our place. In that portion of the service, if we are focusing on praising God for Who He is, we are freed from ourselves.

    Thanks for this great article!

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