Have we lost the authenticity of worship and are we now just creating “music”?
After 20 years at my church in Manassas, Virginia, I took a three-month sabbatical this past summer. During that time I visited many churches in the Washington DC area and had a chance to see and experience many different types of worship services. Most of those Sundays I found myself in that in-between place of worshipping, observing and analyzing. I think as a worship leader (or any other church leader position) it’s helpful to see what other churches are doing and what God is doing in those places. As a leader the learning should really never stop. Our eyes should always be open to other views, other opinions, other methods and other styles of whatever area it is we are called to lead in.
So with that mindset of eyes open, I’m noticing that a lot of worship “music” in churches, especially larger ones, appears to be performance first and worship second. It seems to me that if every note is rehearsed, every chorus calculated, and every song choreographed down to the split-second, it leaves no room for the Holy Spirit to work. When the stage lights are in perfect sync with the music and when the song lyrics appear a second before they are sung, maybe we’ve perfected the set to the point that it is performance, not worship. If I can’t tell the difference between a concert and a worship set, I find it difficult to call it anything but performance.
With all of that said I support the notion of a rehearsed set, quality musicianship, and giving God our best offerings. But in the end if the perfection of the set overrides the sense of true worship in it, we’ve lost our way. Let me say it this way, if you have rehearsed the set until you know it inside and out this is a good thing. Now just leave yourself open to what the Holy Spirit might change, add, take away or otherwise do for this specific time and place. An extra chorus or a time of music without singing from time to time might be exactly what is needed at that moment. Don’t shut it down for the sake of perfection or your schedule.
To me, that’s the fine line between music and authentic worship.