I recently saw a post about modern day praise and worship services among a lot of
churches from small to mega size. Most of what I read was somewhat harsh about the so called the night club style of them. I admit I am not too sure about the smoke and flashing lights. myself. The first time I was in a church similar to this description was Florida, in the Tampa area.
When I walked in the inside looked similar to a multi-use convention center with the ceiling much like Walmart or Sam’s Club. I don’t go to night clubs, but I’m sure there are such. It was dark except for the stage lights. The music was upbeat and the crowd was responsive, but it just didn’t seem right. It seemed like a “new cart” kind of worship service.
I Samuel 6:11 – And they laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.
For goodness sake folks, do you know what an emerod is? It’s translation is talking about tumors or more to the point, hemorrhoids. Golden mice? What? Why?
Cut the developing rabbit trail here and get back to the main subject. Yes, I agree that modern, progressive churches are turning to worldly methods to draw a crowd.
My problem is that certain of the praise and worship methods employed properly are meant to usher in the Presence of God, but are being thrown out like the baby with the bathwater.
In the Old Testament there was an approved method of worship.
2 Chronicles 29:25 – And [Hezekiah] stationed the Levites (has to be a Levite) in the house of the Lord with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from the Lord through his prophets”
If you will read the context of the above and below you will find David was authorized, but Amos, the shepherd turned prophet, was sent to the Northern Kingdom of Israel to rebuke and admonish them. Israel, in order to keep people from traveling to Jerusalem in Judah, built their own temples in Israel. These temples were not authorized places of worship and their priests were not Levites. Their lives and their worship were extremely paganistic. And although they still attempted to worship Jehovah God, they did so in an unauthorized fashion.
Amos 5:22-23 – Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen
Amos 6:4-5 – Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music.
With that somewhat established let’s move into today. I know of churches who abhor the idea of instruments in the church. If that’s what they want it’s okay with me. I just won’t be in attendance there. Then there are churches that think old fashioned. I once played drums with a southern gospel group for a season. We went to an old fashion Pentecostal church to sing for the people and the preacher got up and lambasted any form of Christian music if it wasn’t southern gospel. That I cannot agree with either, even though they did have instruments. One side note, the idea of women not cutting there hair was in full force there. His daughter who played the piano had probably never cut her hair since it was literally down to her ankles. It reminded me of something I would see in a circus side-show.
Way back in 1979-80, I started playing drums in a praise and worship team, as we called it. I played for 25 years in what became something that was very interesting before I gave it up. I became more tuned to the Spirit and played to that end. If the Spirit moved a certain direction that’s where I went. That came from playing under a worship leader who knew that even with a predetermined song list for the morning that God’s moving can change the course of the service and that’s where we would go. It didn’t have to be exactly 1,2,3. Songs we played were not elaborate or accentuated by talent. It was played by what God directed. It has led me to know what is and what isn’t.
My wife and I have been to quite a few Christian concerts. Some of them were Rend Collective, Jeremy Camp, David Crowder, Mandisa, Danny Gokey to name a few. But to us the most in tune with the Spirit is Big Daddy Weave. We’ve been with the Big Daddy Weave group and just Mike Weaver alone acoustically in a local talent show.
My wife and I have gotten up and left one concert because the flashing lights gave me a headache and the sound was way too high. The talent was great, but lacked the leading of the Spirit. Christian music is about all I listen to anymore since there is not even any talent in secular music anymore. Oh there is some, but most music industry executives cobble together what they think the public will love to hear. The main stream music industry is just that. Industry. If Christian music doesn’t maintain a careful watch, it will end up the same way.
To make this short, yes there are churches who burn strange fire, so to speak in their music, but there are a few big churches I feel God is still there working in the services. Small churches probably carry the same percentages of such.
The rule of thumb here is this. There is no book on how to conduct a praise and worship service. Talent is surely helpful, but it isn’t the key to the service. Listening for God is the key. Music is meant to carry one into His presence. It’s not something to drum up emotion with lights, smoke and mirrors.
My learning from how to please God is this. When you enter the church before service it should be a time to talk to God first. In the prayerful state on an individual basis, we then come together in the praise and worship to pull everyone together as one. Listen for God to speak. Prayer, praise and worship is a two way street. As God moves He will direct and then when, and if it’s time, the messenger of God will speak on what is for the people that day. At that end, then the people should talk to each other to confirm as they leave to fulfill their week as God directs.
I don’t think I’m too far off of the point of a gathering according to Hebrew 10:25. We need to be assembled. Not just in one place, but assembled together as a body. Music is an important part of that assembly.