O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith


Five Confessions: Annoyed by “Worship”

posted by Jason Boyett

I have five worship-related confessions to make.

1. I play the drums in the worship band at my church. One reason is because I love to play the drums. It makes me happy. The other reason is that I’d much rather be on stage during the worship time than out in the audience “worshiping.” Why? Keep reading. To my possible detriment, I’m gonna tell you.

2. I am perpetually annoyed that we refer to the singing part of a church service as “worship.” As in, this is the part of our Christian lives that involves worship, and preferably a kickin’ praise band will be around to facilitate it. To think this way ignores pretty much all of the Bible, which makes it clear that worship includes a host of things other than singing — like giving, serving, sacrificing, pondering, praying. Calling the part of the church service when the singing happens worship is like identifying eating as only that which we do at McDonald’s.

3. While singing, ahem, “worship songs,” I like to think about the lyrics I’m singing. This inevitably results in two scenarios. First, I get sidetracked by lines that are particularly declarative and say something I would never say (or that I would blush at saying about, well, anything). Take this phrase, for example, from “Here I am to Worship” by Tim Hughes:

You’re altogether lovely /Altogether worthy / Altogether wonderful to me.

Never mind the weird parallelism of the altogethers. I am just not an emotional, touchy-feely kind of person. I would never tell someone that they are “lovely” or “wonderful” to me. It’s such gooey language and it feels totally weird and inauthentic for me to say. To say that to God? It feels totally fake.

The second scenario is that the song lyrics say something that isn’t exactly true for me, or at least not true the moment I’m singing it. Take, for example, a phrase from the chorus of “You Are My King,” by Billy Foote.

Amazing love, I know its true / It’s my joy to honor you

I’m not always sure what it means for me to honor God. During the times I think I do know, I’m not certain it always brings me joy. Honoring God sometimes requires sacrifice, right? That’s not always joyful. I can’t always sing lines like this. Either they’re too ambiguous to be true for me personally, or they’re a flat-out lie.

4. I also get annoyed at the thoughtless banality of many worship songs. Cliches. Dorky rhymes. Meaningless Jesus-is-my-boyfriend language. I realize I can sound like a grumpy crank, but can we not come up with some more creative ways to talk about God than the kind of phrasings that overly rely on adore/Lord and love/above rhyme sequences? What in the world does “open the eyes of my heart” mean anyway? Why are we always asking, in worship songs, for God to “show us Your glory” when God explicitly told Moses that he would die if he beheld His glory? If what we call “worship” is really worship, then why does it have to be so dumb?

5. Because when participating in corporate singing, I think of this lovely and wonderful video, because it is so spot-on when it comes to the outward expression of worship.

Anyway, end of rant. I play the drums because that’s the most comfortable place for me to be during the “worship” time, and I am possibly a heartless jerk for thinking this way.

Thanks to my archaeologist/theologian friend Bob Cargill for getting me thinking about the subject.

[The above cartoon is by Dave Walker at CartoonChurch.com.]



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Janet Oberholtzer

posted November 4, 2009 at 10:42 am


Right on! Read it saying yes, yes, me too, etc. Thought I was the only one that feels this way.My problem is I don't play drums, so I can't do that during our singing time (can't even call it worship) so I invent reasons to stay in the lobby talking to someone and/or in the bathroom pretending to fix my hair.I like listening to good music, so I could handle church services with a song or two performed and no group singing. I know saying that means I have some major spiritual issues, but so be it ;)



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shueytexas

posted November 4, 2009 at 10:52 am


I've always been confused and confounded by the idea of God being "worthy of praise."It seems so…unnecessary. DUH-worthy.Also, it's kind of underwhelming and backhanded. "Oh, so I created the heavens and the Earth, and set the stars in motion, and made women fun to look at, and you say I'm 'worthy of praise?' Wow, thanks a lot there, Lieutenant Obvious!"*I tend to overthink these things, as you can see. Kinda like Jason.*Dramatization. Cannot be found in any credible Bible translations.



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Jason Boyett

posted November 4, 2009 at 10:59 am


Thanks, Janet. All the real worshipers probably think you are too concerned with your hair.I'm with @shueytexas. The idea of God constantly desiring us to tell him how great He is…it's one of those things that really doesn't make sense to me. It gets kind of embarrassing to spell out in any rational way.I definitely overthink things like this, and a common response is "Well, you shouldn't do that. His ways are higher than our ways." But his ways gave me a brain and a personality that needs to think things through, and make sense of the world around me, and make sense of my faith. Am I supposed to turn it off so I can sing Chris Tomlin songs without feeling like a fraud? That scenario doesn't seem very worshipful…



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JMJ

posted November 4, 2009 at 11:11 am


Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes, Lord!I've been waiting for someone to say these things in a widely read public forum for a while now.Christianity Today published a column a while back talking about how loud worship music is getting. Judging from teh comments, the reaction was mostly negative. If I remember correctly, the author tried to relay similar comments as yours but was dismissed because of the premise of the column.I go on related rants:-why is it that hands are raised for songs that have trite meaningless lyrics (imho) but great tunes (e.g. yes lord, this is the air I breathe) but kept down for songs with incredible thought provoking lyrics but "old fashioned" music? (e.g. "to god be the glory")-Would the same "feeling" of worship come to you if you read the lyrics to a song without the music? -This is not just a modern phenomenon. I can never sing "all to jesus I surrender", because I don't think I can. But the song sounds great cause the rest of the congregation is joining right in.Regarding Jason's comment above: I don't think true worship is just telling God what he knows about himself, but instead, true worship is our demonstration (music, sacrifice, service, etc) of the appreciation of who He is, what he's done, etc. I tell my wife things that she knows all the time as expressions of love. But these expressions are not just statements, they're just that, expressions of love and appreciation. Maybe I'm being too simple. Even so, it works for me.



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S. Kyle Davis

posted November 4, 2009 at 11:21 am


I do agree that our worship songs are often banal and pointless. However, on the issue of telling God he is "worthy of praise"…Well, the entire point of our existence is to give Him glory, isn't it? That's why we are here, correct? So, it's not stupid or pointless to give Him glory. Quite the contrary, actually. It is THE point. However, simply saying "You are worthy of praise" is a bit rediculous. It's the height of understatement, which I think was sheuytexas's point.On an unrelated issue, my verification word is "sparto," which I think sounds kinda cool. Sounds like an Athenian insult for someone from Sparta. As in, "Hey Sparto. How's it going?"And then the Spartan kicks you down a well.



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shueytexas

posted November 4, 2009 at 11:24 am


Is this the thread where we make fun of how many times people say "just" when they pray out loud, or should I wait?



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Jason Boyett

posted November 4, 2009 at 11:25 am


Let's do that one next week, Shuey.



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S. Kyle Davis

posted November 4, 2009 at 11:57 am


or "Lord" or "Jesus"…



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Nicole

posted November 4, 2009 at 12:06 pm


Two things:1. LOVE the video! I laughed so loud I thought I woke the baby!2. I worship through my writing. God gave me the talent and passion for writing, and I can't think of any better way to use it.I definitely agree with you, JMJ, about the feeling of "traditional" hymns. I was raised in a conservative Baptist church, and there were many times that the lyrics of what I was singing made me emotional, but I tried to hide it because I thought it wasn't "proper worship."Funny how people can make you feel that way.



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Harry-Rami Itie

posted November 4, 2009 at 12:22 pm


Hmmmnn… I think when it comes to worshiping God… it has to do with our motives…



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Dan

posted November 4, 2009 at 12:52 pm


This is right down the alley of what I've been frustrated with since I started going to contemporary services at church. No meat! All sour milk. And some "worship" leaders think that adding a stronger base or something to the song will make it cooler, but it's just more annoying that way! Ugh…I hate it.



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Best Jeff Ever

posted November 4, 2009 at 12:57 pm


I totally agree about the lack of thought that is included in most modern worship songs. A few years ago my wife and I spent a little over a year helping her uncle in little old church that still enjoyed singing many older hymns. Although the musical styling was not to my liking, I would occasionally find myself awestruck at the beauty and intensity of the meaning of the song.However, I don't think we should dismiss the visceral, goosebumpy, feeling as a pointless exercise. Is it manufactured with hooks and long builds? Sure… but being a Christian doesn't make us completely above getting carried away like that. I just think we need to recognize that's a characteristic of music in general and not over-spiritualize it.In short, I agree, but lets try not to act dismissive and superior.



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Bryan Allain

posted November 4, 2009 at 1:05 pm


If telling God how great he is unnecessary, than what does that say about a good portion of the Psalms? take Psalm 96, where we're told to:- sing to the Lord- bless his name- tell of his salvation- declare his glory- say 'the Lord reigns'and just because something is "duh-worthy" doesn't mean we shouldn't say it [not picking on you shuey :)]. if Erica ever asked me if I loved her and I said "duh! obviously i do", i dont think that would go over well. They will be true whether we say them or not, but speaking/singing them is an act of worship, isn't it?Not to sound all pentecostal or anything, but there's power in speaking things. Sometimes I don't feel that there's no sweeter name than the name of Jesus, but then I start singing it and I remember his goodness and mercy.that's not to say that i don;t have a problem with a lot of songs we sing as well, but just wanted to bring up the other side of this.good discussion.



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Amanda Mae

posted November 4, 2009 at 1:38 pm


Dude.You are so inside my head it is freaky.I legitimately stopped going to corporate worship services for a while because I couldn't stand the repetition and cliche. I was so frustrated by standing up in a service every week and saying things I didn't mean completely inauthentically just because I was supposed to. Then, I started going to Catholic Mass occasionally, because I felt like it was more grounded, and perhaps surprisingly, less meaninglessly repetitive. Now, I feel a little more balanced, wholly, but I still often just stand without singing, because it's not in earnest. Which makes me sad, because I LOVE singing. So, at the end of the month, I'm hosting an unconventional worship service for my youth, with music and art, but no words. I'm stoked about it.Also, one of my greatest life goals is to play the drums. I air drum a lot in the car, if that counts.



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Saskia

posted November 4, 2009 at 2:11 pm


And your post details all the reasons I go to a more traditional church, instead of an evangelical one. It killed me to have to sing simple songs that didn't have meaning for me. Now I sing songs that were written anywhere from the 19 to the 21st century. The old ones connect me with the Christians that have gone before me, and the newer ones (we don't use the dumbest collection of songs available to the Dutch, titled "Awakening") are thoughtful enough that while they're not always true for me personally, it's still nice to hear others sing it and now I'm a part of that group.Also, we don't call it worship. That helps. Only evangelicals do that here, so I'm safe.



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J

posted November 4, 2009 at 2:15 pm


I agree with you that at times people get too caught up in a karaoke style of “worship” that they forget that worship is supposed to be the spirit led declaration of our soul to God. Worship is not supposed to be about us singing the same pre-chosen songs together but about us coming together and singing whatever is in our hearts unto God. The problem with that is that if we came together and just tried to sing what’s in our heart most of us wouldn’t dare lift our voice because we wouldn’t be bold enough to do so. Hence the anthems that are supposed to lead us into a spirit, attitude and atmosphere where we can sing our hearts song to God. As for one part of the service being referred to as “worship,” I think it is good to say this. The word/ preaching/teaching portion of the service is more to bless us, announcements are to keep us updated, the greeting is to make us feel welcome and when it comes down to it the “worship” as well as offering times are the only times when we are focusing on God and giving him what we believe is the best of us. The worship is the only time when it’s not about us being comfortable (not that being comfy is bad) but about us showing God his worth through biblical worship expressions. I dunno, that’s just my opinion. Good post though, I love reading about worship.



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godandthegoodlife

posted November 4, 2009 at 4:44 pm


Ok, let's resolve to create a new term for what is currently called "worship". Something clever and trendy that we'll all call heresy and outdated 10 years from now. :)Seriously though, how else is the church going to invite the Holy Spirit into the service? It seems that most churches chose "worship" because closing our eyes and praying for him to show up doesn't jive with our multimedia style.What's the solution? Better songs? If so, who among us will answer the call to write them? Repurposing "worship time" with a new name and function?



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steve hallford

posted November 4, 2009 at 6:53 pm


Wow, I love this discussion! My family & I attend (umm, "worship")at an non-denominational evangelical Bible church, but I was Southern Baptist for a thousand yrs prior. I desperately miss the 'old hymns' that are packed full of meaningful poetic theology! They are memorable, thought provoking… and heart-changing! Our song director (umm, worhip leader) is an intelligent, youthful, talented, energetic minister – who is swell enough to mix in an old hymn during every service. The old song is played & sung w/an upbeat melody, w/different syncopation & style, but it carries the same wonderful message no matter how it's performed. I'm usually unable to finish the lyrics to these great classics because I'm overcome w/the emotion that the old classics stir in me. I simply bow my head, close my eyes & swallow tears of blessing; praying that the old hymn will touch individuals in the congregation the same way it does me. However, I will testify that I absolutely love the fact that my 3 teens like the songs that are sung @our church, and my wife & I get to teach foundational songs to them @home. My dear wife hums them while cooking, and I sing them while in the horse barn or pasture.Like some of my fellow contributors to your blog, I tire of singing the same repetitous phrase over & over again. But then again, I'm not the only one in the congregation, and I know fellow-believers are touched by these praise songs. However (MY 2nd 'however') If I were stranded on a deserted island and could only have 2 books; one would be the NIV Bible, and the other would be an old hymnal.



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shueytexas

posted November 4, 2009 at 6:57 pm


Bryan: I certainly don't object to praising God and telling Him how great He is. In fact, I heartily recommend it.It's just that peculiar (to me) phrase "worthy of praise" which seems, to modern ears, a strange and underwhelming way to describe the Creator of All Things.But if we can't obsess, Seinfeld-style, over inconsequential irritants on Jason Boyett's blog, where can we? In real life? On the rest of the Internet? I think not.



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Anonymous

posted November 4, 2009 at 6:58 pm


I agree with you in so many ways about this! AND I need to say that "Open the eyes of my heart" is a direct scriptural reference from Ephesians 1:18. But there is a lot of empty rhetoric in MANY praise songs. Thanks for this!



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Sherrie Lord

posted November 4, 2009 at 7:03 pm


Yeah!!!!!!Finally!!!!!I love the old hymns. They have meaning — and they rhyme! Some of those P&W songs are so crude, I want to laugh. Like, did somebody actually pay them to write that?Also, why do we have to STAND UP when we sing? I sing just fine sitting down, thank you. I'm not going to fall asleep. And when I want to do calisthenics, I go to the gym.



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Katie

posted November 4, 2009 at 8:13 pm


Thank you for talking about this…it's so nice to know there are other people out there who have some of the same difficulties I do…it's good that people are talking about this!



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Xander

posted November 5, 2009 at 12:22 am


I agree that modern praise music can be a little repetitive, but the old hymns?The songs don’t depress me; it is the mass group of people singing with a mono tone voice. Get 2000 people together that have had a dose of Zoloft and sing Praise You Lord and tell me how this is supposed to move anyone into a place of intimate worship. In my mind, I would think God is saying, “Really? This is supposed to make me feel loved and appreciated.”Modern praise music is supposed to be missing the structure so the “worshipper” can let go of what people are thinking and just be with God. Maybe it is time to bring back some of the old hymnals with a more contemporary beat.The hand raising does get me. I raise them when I feel like it. I hate the cues in the song that it is the “approved time” to raise my hands.



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Matt

posted November 5, 2009 at 11:07 am


Hey.I have been reading Jason's Blog for a little while but have never left a comment. This issue has been on my mind for a while now. I am a young Children's Pastor right out of Bible College and I am at the point where I am trying to teach my kids (those in my ministry) about true worship. When we learn a new song- I do my best to explain the words and meaning to them. It is easier for me because I can choose the song I want to teach them that week. However, my focus each Kid's Service is on worship being more, much more than singing.I grew up very old school in worship. When I went to college I remember attending a worship service at a church. I am not sure the title of the song but a lyric was:"Heaven meets Earth like a sloopy wet kiss."Right in the middle of a worship service- I busted out laughing. I coudn't help it- I realized at that point, sometimes I get wrapped in the music and beat I miss the lyrics.Thank you for all your thoughts



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Angela Hoffman

posted November 5, 2009 at 1:51 pm


I never thought I liked the old school hymnal worship until after spending a couple of years in a contemporary upbeat-style church. The church we've been attending for the last 1.5 yr is 90% hymnal with an orchestra vs. a band. It took some getting used to, but the hymnal songs remind me of going to church with my sweet Nana as a child…guess that's why I like them now – they remind me of her. What's REALLY cool about the old hymnals are the stories behind them…who wrote them and under what circumstances. The lady that leads "worship" in my bible study always tells the story behind the hymn before we sing it…makes the hymn even more meaningful to me. What I have found with contemporary songs is that they can be much more moving depending on the person singing it. For example, I have 3 moving songs streaming on my website that move me even more because of who & how they are delivering it (Agnus Dei, The Love of the Lord Endures, Hymnal Medley). I also have a Christian "rap" song on there…may seem kind of cheesy, but I LOVE the lyrics. To each his own, I guess.



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Katherine Laine

posted November 5, 2009 at 2:19 pm


I was very much able to relate to your post. I often don't agree with the lyrics or 'style' of word choice. However, if you keep in mind that the man or woman who penned those words is the one who felt that way, it helps. Often times during the Pre-Show Praise I hear what the song is saying and I spend a few moments wondering why the writer wrote what he or she did. What happened in their life to make them pour out those words?? Have I been missing something in my relationship that the same words that uplifted his/her heart do absolutely nothing for me??Try to use those moments as a chance to see God through someone else's eyes.



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Justin

posted November 6, 2009 at 12:45 am


If I end up in an Anglican Church, or even an Orthodox church where the service is almost all chanting, it'll be because I cannot take the inane worship music in the Evangelical one.Musically, it's been all the same thing for the past 10 years: Knockoff U2/Coldplay sounds where the cymbals and reverb guitar fill all of the space. Lyrically, so much of it sounds like we're trying to top each other with the same four or five metaphors (trees, water, wind, mountains) and using stranger adjectives to show how much we REALLY love God this time (i.e. the sloppy wet kiss, love is extravagant, desperation, etc). It also gets to me that "worship" equals "music," these days. Not communion, not the proclamation of the word, not offering — just the music. It's kind of an unbalanced view of worship to just have it be this specific section of a service.



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Tess Mallory

posted November 6, 2009 at 2:26 pm


Well . . . . I posted a comment the day this blog came out but it mysteriously disappeared. So Jason, I'm just giving you a head's up — if you ban me from your site, I'm gonna start a new 'twitter' kind of talk site and call it "Christian Twerps" and then start a financial blog and call it "Christians – Give Me Money", AND I'm gonna see what I can do about engineering some kind of pyramid scam, preferably in a church setting. So, you have been forewarned!! ha.Naaaah — here's my original post. I read it over and it's pretty rambling, so forgive me as a good Christian should when you read it. It does contain the word "dancing", so that should be enough to make up for the rambling. I guess the Internet Daemon ate it when I posted it the first time. He doesn't like your website, Jason. Oh No — You're under attack!!! On Worship:I think the drumming suggestion is a great idea! Having the church use percussion instruments would allow us to participate in a rhythmic, musical kind of worship, but doesn't tie up our minds with lyrics that we don't know. If each person was able to worship God with their hearts, and not just through someone else's words, perhaps it would enable them to truly feel the presence of God. Having been a "worship leader" and also someone who once aspired to write Christian music. (Okay I still write it, but have no idea what to do with it besides sing it to the Lord! Hmmmmmm.) I am beginning to feel that music with lyrics may belong in our CD players when we are alone and can choose music that makes us feel closer to God and allows us to have a time of personal worship. However — Music is an emotional catalyst for Christians and Non-Christians alike, partly because of the music itself, but also largely because of the words. If a worship song is well written, flowing, and touches something in my heart, then I find I can really worship. If it's an awkward song, or I don't like the tune, or I can't relate, then it limits my worship. But is that because it truly does, or because I allow it to? Hmmmmmm. I have to say that there are some songs that truly make my heart sing with worship for God because of the lyrics. (I like singing that God is altogether lovely to me, except I always tend to immediately think, after I say “lovely”, the word “loverly”. It’s because of My Fair Lady. I sang “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” as an audtion piece during about fifteen years of theatre participation!) Music evokes so many different kinds of emotions, and we each have our own individual likes and dislikes, so in a "worship setting" that can become distracting from the true worship of God. Maybe that's why the folks in the Old Testament had tamborines and drums and they also DANCED! Yeah, let's talk about dancing. That's a kind of worship that has truly been eradicated from our worship experience. Young people doing a "flag" exercise at the front of the church is not worship dancing. A choreographed presentation of modestly covered young women is not worship dancing. To worship in dance is to lose yourself in the beauty and glory of God, and the truth is the modern Christian is scared to death of such a phenomenon, more's the pity. But back to the drumming idea — I wonder what would happen if everyone had a shaker, a drum, a tambourine, some kind of instrument, and closed their eyes and the "leader" started a rhythm and everyone truly worshipped God and allowed his Spirit to fill them. What if we didn't have to think about anything but the glory of God while we were worshipping through simple "sound"? I'd love to be there if that every happens!!



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Tom E.

posted November 8, 2009 at 11:58 pm


What if we would define worship the way the Luther and others did, as "Gottesdienst": i.e., "God's Service", i.e., God serving us through the speaking of His Word and the imparting of His grace through sacraments, and then we respond to it all by thanking, praising, serving, and obeying Him. What if worship were considered the "rhythm" of God giving to us, and then our response?



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Andy Rogers

posted November 10, 2009 at 2:33 am


Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I also read some of your posts and I find it very helpful.



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Anonymous

posted November 10, 2009 at 10:10 am


I love talking about worship, too. But what I HATE is all the people who SIT in their pews/seats and WHINE about the HARD WORK that others put in, rather than STEP OUT IN FAITH to GET INVOLVED and OFFER their own CONSTRUCTIVE INPUT to make worship in their little church better. Unfortunately, it is far easier in our churches to sit and whine, rather than get up and do, and some people think that this is cool, yet I don't see a single example of Christ sitting and whining in the Scriptures. Nor did Paul. Peter did and he was rebuked for it. Maybe it's time that we ALL got to know God's word better, rather than pointing out those who WE THINK should know it better?Steve



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Charly

posted November 10, 2009 at 6:22 pm


Good post and very interesting discussion!I have often felt the same way. I know "worship" isn't all about feeling, and sometimes just going through the motions when you don't feel like it is more of an act of worship than going with the flow when it's feeling good.That said, I think the problem lies deeper. Maybe the lyrics are silly and repetitive because either the writer isn't solid on theology or they are writing purposely to people that they know aren't solid on theology.Most churches seem to be so worried about drawing people in that they dumb everything down and try to make it cool instead of diving into the Bible and theology. We are looking for a church right now and it's disgusting to me how little scripture is in most songs and sermons!I have been seeing a lot more people tired of contemporary worship, longing for something deeper than the feeling, yet so many churches still feel the need to be more contemporary, more edgy. I don't get it.The church as a whole needs to get back to the word of God, the rest will sort it's self out.



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damosvc

posted November 10, 2009 at 6:38 pm


I'm annoyed by people who want to correct and discourage us from truely worshiping God. I recognise that it is important to ask the "hard" questions and discuss why we do what we do, but there comes a point where we need to allow God to answer these questions under the guidance of His Holy Spirit. Next time you enter a "worship" time I encourage (challenge) all of you to open up your hearts to Him, Your Creator and Redeemer. There just might be something in it for you and others around you.



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Anonymous

posted November 30, 2009 at 9:59 am


The church really needs to be careful with some of these things. Regarding point #5, I've actually heard people assert that if someone isn't raising their hands or dancing around, then they aren't really worshipping…or at least not worshipping as much as dancing daniel or hand-raising helen.



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Bernard Shuford

posted December 3, 2009 at 2:51 pm


Jason -I found your post about this AFTER I wrote my blog today. I promise. I'm sincerely seeking ways to lead the little church I attend to do things that glorify God during the service. I like public reading of the Scripture – a lost art, in my opinion, I like times of silent prayer, and I like responsive reading. But I'm a Baptist, so I guess I'm screwed with some of that :) :) :)My blog post…



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Jason Ericson

posted December 6, 2009 at 3:42 am


So this is super late but I just wanted to push back a little. A lot of the comments here (not necessarily the original post) seem to focus on what I get out of communal worship. I refer to it as "communal" worship for a reason. It's not about you. It's about God first, and your community second. I can't remember exactly who said this (it was one of those super-spiritual theologians like Bonhoeffer), but I once heard worship music referred to as a prayer for all to pray in unison. Why do you think we worship in groups? Why don't we just skip that bit, listen to the sermon, and worship God on our own on the drive home? Because it's about worshiping with other people.Now I completely understand the desire to avoid communal worship – as a worship leader I understand that. I've been in so many cringe-inducing worship sessions with the most vapid songs. But I always make myself stay, because it's not about me. It's about God and it's about the people around me who would find it uncomfortable and distracting to see me stand there and not sing. I don't totally agree with everything that I sing, but you know what? I'll find something I agree with. If there's one line in the song that I can sing honestly to God, I will sing it with all my heart.If you are in a position to have an effect on worship and you see issues with it, by all means take that opportunity. That's what I do on a regular basis. But do you think God wants you to spend your worship time thinking about the things that are wrong about it or that you find annoying or uncomfortable? No. He wants you to praise and worship him out of abject humility because that's what he deserves.You were expecting some backlash from this post so I thought I'd provide some. :PPeace!



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Tom

posted January 7, 2010 at 7:33 am


Jason,I just wrote about this exact same thing on my site and was referred to this post by @JanetOber. I definitely agree with everything you've said here particularly about the language – I can't get into what the songs are saying because they aren't things I'd ever say. Ever.I've never used the word "lovely". I don't wanna start.Thanks for sharing it.



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Nicodemus at Nite

posted January 26, 2010 at 2:48 pm


I agree Jason. I think a majority of praise songs aren't even biblical.



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coffeewithgames

posted January 26, 2010 at 3:43 pm


Wow. A friend linked me over to the blog today.For the last two Sundays, I've been writing down various songs, with lines that don't make any sense, other than helping the song rhyme.I think when talking about the music in a church service, it should be defined whether you believe it's worship or praise.I believe it's praise.Worship seemed to be more of a reverent, bowing of the head/laying down oneself before God, in the Bible.(Gen. 24:26, Ex. 4:31, Ex. 34:8) There are a lot of passages with "worship", great study to do.Praising God is different from worship I believe. Praising is referenced in scripture with singing. (Psalm 47:6, Psalm 147:1 for two quick examples)All that being said, I have no issue with singing praises to God, my issue is when churches treat the "praise" portion like a concert and entertaining the people with it.Is it really necessary to have Power Point presentations with pictures, waves, flowers, etc., moving behind the words of a song? Or with stage lights that change according to the song?



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Hutch

posted February 5, 2010 at 10:42 am


Wow…this is a great take…I applaud you for your honesty. I play guitar in our worship band and I've had some of the same thoughts. I would also rather be part of the band than in the congregation. Great post…I'm going to share this one!



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Jason Boyett

posted February 5, 2010 at 10:46 am


Thanks, Hutch.



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Dan Martin

posted March 31, 2010 at 10:52 am


If what we call "worship" is really worship, then why does it have to be so dumb?I know I am WAY late to the party, but wow, do I resonate with what you say! A blogosphere friend and I have been saying similar things (and blasting songs we particularly hate) at our two blogs as well; his here and mine here.And in response to Jason Ericson, the problem isn't corporate worship itself per se, it's the inane, often stupid, and many times downright unbiblical CONTENT of the worship songs that drive us to distraction!



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Gregory Nelson

posted April 14, 2010 at 1:33 pm


Yes, Jason you should definitely stick to playing the drums during worship. "I can only imagine" what else you'd be nitpicking if all your limbs weren't busy keeping rhythm. Matter of fact I think you could use a few more symbols, a cowbell, some roto toms and maybe a set of chimes!The very essence of musical performance is foolishness, secular or spiritual, doesn't mean that we don't need it. The whole idea of celebration is being able to lose a sense of practicality and logic, ergo David dancing without his robe.Sometimes things just don't make sense, and shouldn't, but that makes life kinda fun. Music is still fun, right? Even worship music??For those who are too deep for modern worship songs, I say write some intense wordy worship lyrics and get a musician to compose some brooding complex dirge to go with. Then worship God till your heart's content. Test this out on your local church community, and see how your masterpiece fits in with the whole corporate worship experience. I'm just sayin'. Thanks for getting us to dialog about this Jason, there's lots of good stuff here for all of us involved in worship to consider.



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Violet

posted April 16, 2010 at 3:22 pm


It's strangely comforting to me that so many other people have trouble getting into contemporary praise-ceremony thingies. I really don't know what to do when the lyrics grate on me or when an arm-waving peer whacks me in the head in her fervor [apparently having not watched the video you posted!]. It usually makes me wonder if I am a lousy Christian when rather than feeling more dedicated to God, I'm wondering what kind of culture makes anyone compare something theological to a sloppy wet kiss (Eeeeeew. o_o) or want to repeat a short phrase over and over again like a mantra. And I really don't know why I am expected to raise my arms at specific times. They're my own arms, after all.(It's funny, when I was younger at other churches, I enjoyed the musical worship greatly. I even felt my first physical supernatural-sensation-thingy in that environment. I don't know what happened in between those times…)(On the other hand, I've tried coming up with hymn lyrics for the characters in my fiction to sing, and it's a bit harder than it looks.)Also, this is probably unrelated, but I thought one of the songs I never felt comfortable singing would be pulled from the lineups when the guy who wrote it turned out to have been lying about having cancer for several years, but no such luck…Oh, one more thing! I'm surprised to hear that there was actually a magazine article on the loudness of the music–and disappointed to hear that it got a negative response. When the church I go to in my hometown got to the point where I had to bring very good earplugs with me or else hide in the restroom and pray that nobody opened the door to let in the sound (also putting me at risk of Compassion from Pious Church Ladies who happened to wander in), I assumed that the sound people were insane or deaf. Then I enrolled in a Christian university halfway across the country and found I couldn't escape it! D:I can't help but wonder if some earplug company owner prayed in faith for the success of his business or something.And now I've thought of yet another thing to say, but it's probably in response to the other blog entries commenters linked rather than this one:It probably isn't supposed to be awkward to sing/speak of Jesus in the same way as a significant other. Back before boyfriends and girlfriends existed, we had all this Bride of Christ imagery and whatnot. (Actually, that itself kind of feels incestuous to me, but the thing is I don't feel I'm in a position to argue.)



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Dagon

posted January 25, 2011 at 3:59 pm


First of all Jason, thank you. I’ve been reading over some of your posts for the last couple of days and I’m guessing you’ve had to be pretty courageous.
I completely stopped singing in church about 16 years ago now. I simply couldn’t stand the idea that people who were crying, or jumping, or falling on the floor, or screaming, or making a fool of themselves in one way or another were “doing more for God” or “loved God more” or were having “a more spiritual experience”. I got really sick of what I saw as some sort of competition to people. Some race. Some kind of “proof” of their beliefs. So, I took myself out of that competition completely.
A lot of Christians have this idea that singing to God is “doing” something for Him. Like it makes Him feel better. Like it makes Him “proud” of them. Like closing yourself off, and doing something acceptable and safe, or trying to outdo those around you makes God happy.
Worship is not something you do for God.
Worship is not something you do for God.
Worship is not something you do for God.
Worship is something God has done for you. I’ve often told church-goers that if they really want to do something for God, they should make someone smile. Make a child happy. Make someone feel appreciated. Help someone see the beauty of life. And I’ve been called a demon for saying that to church people before. I’ll leave with this, which I’ve offended numerous Christians with before :P
You don’t need to priase God.
You are not supposed to worship Him.
You don’t need to sit there reading God’s Word. You are wrong. That Bible is NOT the Word of God.
You have missed the entire point.
You don’t need to praise God. You need to BE praise to God.
You are not supposed to worship Him. Your life is called to BE His worship.
You don’t need to sit there reading God’s Word. You need to get up. You need to get to work. You are NOT reading the Word of the Lord. You ARE the Word of God.
Amos 5:23-24.



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Holly

posted June 4, 2014 at 8:51 pm


I agree and disagree with you.

First off I will say that I am a singer and song writer and that I love my songs more then anything I have listened to, because I can connect with them.
So my advice is that you sing your own song to The Lord of you can you connect with, instead of someone else’s.
Second I believe actions speak louder then words, so my ultimate worship to God everyday is staying obedient to His Word and loving myself and others.

Third
I do not think it is bad to tell God that you love Him or that you give Him Glory, He is worthy of praise.

Fourth
I highly doubt that you and every else has had a real encounter with The Lord, this is not your fault it’s the church you attend that wants to water down Christainity. My advice is to go to a real church that operates in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. It’s there you will be amazed and really feel God in a real way.

Last I joined the Catholic Church a few years back and it’s the best decision I ever made, so go check it out and be open minded, a lot of lies have been told about the church that is not true. So please give it a try you won’t regret it.



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Holly

posted June 4, 2014 at 9:06 pm


Wow this is why God is not moving in the church, so glad am Catholic because I realize how fake these other churches are. No one should be up there unless their heart is in it. This explains the dirty looks I have gotten by the worship teams because they are phonies. Well phonies it’s okay cause once God does really move your not going be able to receive anything cause you refused to give God your all. I pity you cause you been taught a false brand of Christianity that has not gotten you anywhere. It also explains why I used to see people texting their friends and sitting down during worship. It really is better if you and really the people In the worship team just stay home and stop ruining it for people who really want to come and worship God for real. Seriously your better staying home cause I don’t want to see your butt there sitting and talking. Just don’t go! If your not going there for God just don’t go to church at all, cause no one is forcing you! We need less people like you and more people who actually have a heart for God.



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