Jump to content

Songs of praise and devotion


chillinrev
 Share

Recommended Posts

Or you could say that most people on the board are looking for artistic excellence, and since only 20 Christian bands/artists in history have ever bothered to pursue artistic excellence, then it's no coincidence that we all like those bands. :P

I think I was a little inebriated when I replied to this post... I am not usually so easily incensed. :) But really... I think it's really easy for people in the pews to take pot shots at the people who are giving their lives to serve the church in worship ministry. I'm totally open to conversation, but sometimes the comments are so out of left field and so sweeping in scope... "All worship music is drivel." And then I think that translates into other music critique as well. People get totally set in their ways. Either it's the music that was cutting edge and truly great when they were first coming to Christ or becoming aware of what great art could be (maybe Rich Mullins or Mark Heard or Daniel Amos or Larry Norman) or it's music that has somehow been deemed cool because it's made by people in non-Christian settings (Maria McKee, the innocence mission, Sam Phillips, Sufjan Stevens) or whatever. People tend to talk about how "only 20" bands have ever reached for artistic greatness or whatever. It's just lazy, in my opinion. There is great music all around us, indie bands and major labels. Christian and non-Christian.

That's all. I love music.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 74
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I think I was a little inebriated when I replied to this post...

We could start a thread about that ... who will cop to posting on A&F after drinking too much?

But really... I think it's really easy for people in the pews to take pot shots at the people who are giving their lives to serve the church in worship ministry. I'm totally open to conversation, but sometimes the comments are so out of left field and so sweeping in scope... "All worship music is drivel."

I try to avoid sweeping generalizations. They are always inaccurate.

Either it's the music that was cutting edge and truly great when they were first coming to Christ or becoming aware of what great art could be (maybe Rich Mullins or Mark Heard or Daniel Amos or Larry Norman)

Well, sometimes we blur the line between what is great art and what is personally meaningful.

People tend to talk about how "only 20" bands have ever reached for artistic greatness or whatever.

In all seriousness, have you heard someone actually claim that? Because I was, like, you know, only kidding.

Most of the stuff I really like (anything with a great mandolin or fiddle player in it, basically) never gets discussed here, since apparently I am the only mandolin/fiddle guy around.

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I never intended to open a can of worms here but that has certainly happened. It has been a very interesting debate though that I have really enjoyed. I thought I would add a few thoughts of my own here on the rise and rise of the popular worship movement and why I think it has lost it's way.

First a bit of back ground on me because I want you to see where I am coming from. I was a pentecostal/charismatic church pastor for nearly 20 years, involved in the prophetic, worship movement. That was until two years ago when I resigned my position as pastor and became a shelf filler in Walmart. I encouraged worship bands and singers. The local church worship team even released their own CD because of my encouragement. I've been to numerous worship conferences and loved many, especially the more spontaneous moments. I've sung along with Darlene Zchech and Hillsongs live.

Then I started studying worship and church structures. What did the Bible say about church and what does history have to say about why the Bible says it. What I found out about church structure and hierarchy and platforms shocked me. Even the roots of the word church were not as plain as I thought. Were there worship leaders in the Bible? I know everyone points to the tabernacle of David and the Temple but not one of these musicains led people in worship, they had no audience but God. They led no congregational singing. Although God blessed temple structure he wanted to live instead amongst men. That is why Jesus came and that is why the Holy Spirit was sent. The curtain of seperation was torn, no more need of Temple worship. God is here amongst us. We don't have to sing Him in He is here, we just need to connect with Him. Heaven and earth connected in life. Worship becomes finding His worth in life. That is why many on this forum connect with certain singers and musicians because these people sing of His worth in life-worship. That is why I find Him in many types of music and in movies and even in Walmart while I am filling shelves. His worth is everywhere.

Am I saying don't meet in church- no. We are all on a journey and we all need to live our own journeys. Am I saying God is not blessing worship leaders- no because God loves blessing and he looks at peoples hearts. But to find the fulness of God in and through all things a journey needs to be taken that can be stolen from us by having worship leaders. The Bible says when you gather everyone comes with a psalm and a hymn and a spiritual song etc. The worship leader has replaced the everyone. When is the last time you thought about a song that you could take with you. For a few weeks I told our worship leader to stop leading songs and let the people lead the service. They were offended and left the church, we had no music, but people began to worship, no longer as spectators or participators but as the worshipper themselves. These were some of the best weeks we ever had. But it is all journey.

I better close because I'm wafling on now. But one final question-where is there a platform ministry in the Bible?

I cannot find one anywhere. But I find lots of people connecting with God in everyday life.

If the world was my oyster I would never taste anything!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has anyone listened to Psalters? They're... well, certainly a little different. Their song 'Hosanna' gives me inner turmoil. So, if you like inner turmoil, go give it a listen. It's fierce. Most Christian music isn't fierce. Probably because most Christians aren't very fierce. I am not very fierce. Perhaps we need to listen to the lion a bit more.

Anway, back to the discussion/can of worms.

Edited by stu
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Andy-

I remember meeting you (I think I was with Josh J). Howdy!

Right, that was the context. Good to see you.

You say: They're not up there to have people look at them.

Then why, pray tell, are they up there? On a stage? In front of people? There is something to be said of the old model of placing the choir behind the congregation. While I certainly don't know the hearts of folks doing this, I know where the dangers lie. For years, I played guitar in front of a church, etc. I don't blame the musicians for the existence of that stage, but would urge music ministers to get musicians off of them. They don't need to be there.

They're up there to lead worship. Frankly, the position/place of musicians in a worship service is immaterial to me. I don't care. It doesn't affect my ability to worship (or lack thereof) one iota. My ability to worship depends on me, the attitudes I bring into a worship service, and how I position/place myself before God. Whether someone stands in front of me or behind me with or without a guitar is simply not worth debating, in my opinion. In terms of worship, I think you should find a church where you're able to fully and freely worship. And I think I should do the same. And I think it's problematic for either one of us to imply that our worship preferences ought to be shared by everybody else.

As far as the performance aspect of worship, I simply don't see it as the menace that you do. Performance is a potential pitfall in any aspect of the Christian life where communication is involved. I've seen plenty of Christians bullshit one another in entirely convincing ways because they were able to articulately mouth the words they were expected to say. And I've done that, too. Some of those performances were worthy of an Oscar. But I left a very nice, proper stained glass and pews and robed choir church partly because of the performance aspects I saw, and I'm quite content in a church that incorporates contemporary praise and worship music precisely because I don't see those performance aspects. I see men and women who face me and play their musical instruments and sing, and whose desire is to facilitate the congregation in worship. Most of the people who do this appear to have some musical talent. This is a good thing, in my opinion, just as it's a good thing that my pastor has some insight into the Christian life and can communicate well. Why would it be a bad thing to acknowledge that some people are more gifted than others musically? But again that doesn't impact my ability to worship. Only I can worship. That band up there can't do it for me. And I'm fairly confident that the people in the Samsonite chairs (no pews, although that's yet another thing I don't give an ecclesiastical rip about) understand that as well.

By the way, I grant that my statements were of the blanket variety, but as there are exceptions to most rules, I figured that went without saying.

But your rule is false. It's not that "there are exceptions to most rules." It's that your rule is based on an incorrect perception of contemporary worship. I don't doubt that there are some people who are involved in leading worship who are doing it for selfish/egotistical reasons. Ego has a nasty way of insinuating itself into even our best intentions. But I don't know anyone (truly, and I know hundreds of people who are involved in contemporary worship music) whose goal is to draw attention to themselves, or who think "Wow, I sure hope, nay, pray, because I want to be spiritual about this, that the congregation notices that cool new guitar riff I've worked into "Now Is the Time to Worship."" The people I know, across the board, recognize that their egos can get in the way, pray earnestly that that doesn't happen, and genuinely desire to worship God and facilitate others in worshipping God.

You said: But you've essentially branded a huge segment of the evangelical church as inferior Christians. They can't worship. And you're wrong. I hope you'll rethink your position.

I'm not sure how this came across. Of course I don't think of any of these folks as inferior anything. I'm simply suggesting that while the music of most churches involves performance on some level, whether it's a robed choir or a rock band, there is an alternative which seems to suit the spirit of Christian worship more closely, to my mind. If you were to attend a Sacred Harp singing (not a performance!), I'd be very surprised if you didn't come away thinking how less like a performance it is than very many Protestant churches. Just a hunch.

It came across in this statement:

The congregation is not exactly playing a critical role. It's a performance. And the musicians want to be seen as much as the audience wants to see the musicians.

You're 0 for 3 in that paragraph. First the congregration is, in fact, playing a major role because they are worshipping. They're not watching people worship. They're worshipping. That's why they are there. Can you understand why someone might take offense when you brand huge swaths of the church as passive concert-goers? It's not true. Second, the musicians are not performing. They are leading worship. I've already discussed this. And third, the musicians don't particularly want to be seen. That's not why they're there. Many of the folks who play in our worship band also play in rock 'n roll bands. I've seen them when they want to be seen, on Friday and Saturday nights at the local bars, and I can assure you that their demeanor is quite different on Sunday morning. Although sometimes I think our worship might be enlivened if the guitarist played on his back while writhing on the floor.

Sorry if I offended you. Didn't mean to...

No problem, Matt. Really. But I am trying to explain why some of your comments seem misguided at best, insulting at worst.

Edited by Andy Whitman
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Andy-

I think I see! You may be think I am criticising individuals for doing it. My problem is the "structure" of alot of modern worship services I see- that this has become the regular way of doing it. And especially when these are "seeker friendly" churches- people walk in and it sure looks and sounds like a concert (sometimes complete with a light show!). It's definitely a performance model. I'm surprised there's even any dispute there. The question is whether there is anything problematic about that. At first you said it's not a performance, then you said "well, it may be, but what's wrong with that?" (Specifically you said," As far as the performance aspect of worship, I simply don't see it as the menace that you do.") And yet even you said that you left your last church in part because of performance stuff. I think that you sense that there is something unsettling about the prospect of a worship service shifting in that direction. But this seems to be the crux of your problem with my statements- I don't think performance in a worship service is usually the best way to direct folks to God, and you seem to (and understand, what I mean by performance, for our purposes is any context where some folks are singing in mikes and others aren't). It's just a different viewpoint. I certainly haven't said that folks shouldn't attend whatever church they wanna (as you seem to imply.) Evidently, I hit on a nerve that I didn't realize was there. For me to critique a structure (not the people necessarily- there are tons of folks who do this music earnestly, though most that I know are genuinely conflicted by the stage/ performance thing- they don't change it cause their church building was designed that way, with the snake leading to a stage, for example) that I find troubling has turned into your suggestion that I think my "preferences ought to be shared by everybody else".

So, forgive me for the inelegance of my first post. I genuinely was talking about the structure (which I am able to percieve and feel the effects of) and not individual's motivations (which I'm not able to percieve). I see how it came across that way, but I just didn't think I needed to take the time to draw that distinction (which I hope is clearer now). For what it's worth, I first had true problems with this aspect of church services when I was playing at a church, and the instructions were that during a prayer musicians would exit the stage. I thought "Why?" and then I thought "Why are we even on a stage in the first place, now that I think of it?" I think most musicians are on the stage cause it's there and that's how it's done. But I can't say that it felt much different to be approached and told "your music just blest me so much!" as it did to be told "you guys rock" after my regular shows. I liked them both. Too much. To my shame.

Ultimately, I was just trying to say, for those of you who DO have a problem with performance in worship services (whether it's a choir or a band) there is a much neglected alternative (Sacred Harp). For those who don't, I have nothing to say of much importance to them, I supose...

As for Sacred Harp, don't knock it till you've tried it. I know, nobody knocked it. But I imagine that for some of you, my suggestion sounds as realistic as if I had said "let's all become delta blues singers from the 1930's" or even, "let's all sing Handel on Sundays", depending on your perception of Sacred Harp.

Like I said, it's hard to put myself in a pre-Sacred Harp mindset, as it IS positively revolutionary, and one cannot look at alot of other church music in the same way after much exposure to it. And together they said "Thank goodness we haven't had much exposure to it."

Matt

Hi Andy-

I remember meeting you (I think I was with Josh J). Howdy!

Right, that was the context. Good to see you.

You say: They're not up there to have people look at them.

Then why, pray tell, are they up there? On a stage? In front of people? There is something to be said of the old model of placing the choir behind the congregation. While I certainly don't know the hearts of folks doing this, I know where the dangers lie. For years, I played guitar in front of a church, etc. I don't blame the musicians for the existence of that stage, but would urge music ministers to get musicians off of them. They don't need to be there.

They're up there to lead worship. Frankly, the position/place of musicians in a worship service is immaterial to me. I don't care. It doesn't affect my ability to worship (or lack thereof) one iota. My ability to worship depends on me, the attitudes I bring into a worship service, and how I position/place myself before God. Whether someone stands in front of me or behind me with or without a guitar is simply not worth debating, in my opinion. In terms of worship, I think you should find a church where you're able to fully and freely worship. And I think I should do the same. And I think it's problematic for either one of us to imply that our worship preferences ought to be shared by everybody else.

As far as the performance aspect of worship, I simply don't see it as the menace that you do. Performance is a potential pitfall in any aspect of the Christian life where communication is involved. I've seen plenty of Christians bullshit one another in entirely convincing ways because they were able to articulately mouth the words they were expected to say. Some of those performances were worthy of an Oscar. But I left a very nice, proper stained glass and pews and robed choir church partly because of the performance aspects I saw, and I'm quite content in a church that incorporates contemporary praise and worship music precisely because I don't see those performance aspects. I see men and women who face me and play their musical instruments and sing, and whose desire is to facilitate the congregation in worship. Most of the people who do this appear to have some musical talent. This is a good thing, in my opinion, just as it's a good thing that my pastor has some insight into the Christian life and can communicate well. Why would it be a bad thing to acknowledge that some people are more gifted than others musically? But again that doesn't impact my ability to worship. Only I can worship. That band up there can't do it for me. And I'm fairly confident that the people in the Samsonite chairs (no pews, although that's yet another thing I don't give an ecclesiastical rip about) understand that as well.

By the way, I grant that my statements were of the blanket variety, but as there are exceptions to most rules, I figured that went without saying.

But your rule is false. It's not that "there are exceptions to most rules." It's that your rule is based on an incorrect perception of contemporary worship. I don't doubt that there are some people who are involved in leading worship who are doing it for selfish/egotistical reasons. Ego has a nasty way of insinuating itself into even our best intentions. But I don't know anyone (truly, and I know hundreds of people who are involved in contemporary worship music) whose goal is to draw attention to themselves, or who think "Wow, I sure hope, nay, pray, because I want to be spiritual about this, that the congregation notices that cool new guitar riff I've worked into "Now Is the Time to Worship."" The people I know, across the board, recognize that their egos can get in the way, pray earnestly that that doesn't happen, and genuinely desire to worship God and facilitate others in worshipping God.

You said: But you've essentially branded a huge segment of the evangelical church as inferior Christians. They can't worship. And you're wrong. I hope you'll rethink your position.

I'm not sure how this came across. Of course I don't think of any of these folks as inferior anything. I'm simply suggesting that while the music of most churches involves performance on some level, whether it's a robed choir or a rock band, there is an alternative which seems to suit the spirit of Christian worship more closely, to my mind. If you were to attend a Sacred Harp singing (not a performance!), I'd be very surprised if you didn't come away thinking how less like a performance it is than very many Protestant churches. Just a hunch.

It came across in this statement:

The congregation is not exactly playing a critical role. It's a performance. And the musicians want to be seen as much as the audience wants to see the musicians.

You're 0 for 3 in that paragraph. First the congregration is, in fact, playing a major role because they are worshipping. They're not watching people worship. They're worshipping. That's why there are there. Can you understand why someone might take offense when you brand huge swaths of the church as passive concert-goers? It's not true. Second, the musicians are not performing. They are leading worship. I've already discussed this. And third, the musicians don't particularly want to be seen. That's not why they're there. Many of the folks who play in our worship band also play in rock 'n roll bands. I've seen them when they want to be seen, on Friday and Saturday nights at the local bars, and I can assure you that their demeanor is quite different on Sunday morning. Although sometimes I think our worship might be enlivened if the guitarist played on his back while writhing on the floor.

Sorry if I offended you. Didn't mean to...

No problem, Matt. Really. But I am trying to explain why some of your comments seem misguided at best, insulting at worst.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with Andy on this for the most part. But trying to discern motives in these scenarios is a waste of time. Maybe I've softened on this a bit over the years.

Do church musicians wrestle with ego and the "star" syndrome? No question. Does being propped up on a platform in front of hundreds of people exacerbate this struggle? Sometimes, IMO. But the same could be said of pastors standing front-and-center in the spotlight, telling people how to live their life week after week. If that's not a potential power trip, I don't know what is. Actually, the struggle with ego and self-exaltation is probably far more acute with preachers and pastors than the average church bass player. If you're going to pull musicians off the platform and run all the equipment to some back room, then why not have the pastor preach from behind a curtain?

I also believe the church music is a performance, a concert if you will, and an offering of adoration to God at the same time. I'm not sure those realities can be so neatly separated. A performance can help God seem more real to people or cause people to sense that He is love. For sure, if there's a lot of posturing and prancing in the spotlight, those realities will probably be eclipsed. For a long time, I led music with an electric guitar and engaged in soloing and improvisation throughout the framework of the structured song service. Was it "performance" in the sense that I wanted the notes, sound and delivery to be pleasing to those listening? Absolutely. Actually in that respect, it was no different from playing in a club. The musician is there to perform to the best of his ability and to show forth his handiwork without shame or fear. Was my playing also an expression of love for God? In my mind, yes. In fact my "voice" in a given song became an important part of the prayer of that song, in the same way that someone's vocal harmony in the congregation was.

I guess I still hold the charismatic view that a musical performance can be a form of "prophesying", particularly when musicians are allowed to express what's inside with more freedom. This can be easily misconstrued by some as grandstanding or "performing" at the expense of worship. It is not IMO and to do so is to judge the motive of someone else's heart, which i think is a rather dangerous and fruitless activity.

My criticism of church music probably has more to do with what its role is in a typical congregational setting. I happen to believe that there are more and better ways that people can express their love to God than a 30-40 minute musical performance EVERY single week. To me the main point of weekly meeting should fellowship, community and instruction, maybe in that order. People listen to music all week long. I would rather break off into groups and earnestly pray for one another instead of a formatted song service every week. But that's just my preference.

"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ultimately, I was just trying to say, for those of you who DO have a problem with performance in worship services (whether it's a choir or a band) there is a much neglected alternative (Sacred Harp). For those who don't, I have nothing to say of much importance to them, I supose...
A good performance is like applying makeup. The less noticable it is, the better. The more transparent it is, the better. And, like what Andy had alluded to, this has been the predominant goal of the vast majority of worship leaders that I have had the privelege to run across. And the idea of giving a great performance is not a bad goal in itself--as long as your intent is to give honor and praise to God, and not hoarding any for yourself. And I have seen pride lurk in musicians of all stripes, old and new, traditional and modern. Whatever.

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for your reply, Matt. I don't have time now for an adequate response, and I'm about to head out of town for several days, but I'll try to respond in more detail next week. But I appreciate your explanation.

Andy-

I think I see! You may be think I am criticising individuals for doing it. My problem is the "structure" of alot of modern worship services I see- that this has become the regular way of doing it. And especially when these are "seeker friendly" churches- people walk in and it sure looks and sounds like a concert (sometimes complete with a light show!). It's definitely a performance model. I'm surprised there's even any dispute there. The question is whether there is anything problematic about that. At first you said it's not a performance, then you said "well, it may be, but what's wrong with that?" (Specifically you said," As far as the performance aspect of worship, I simply don't see it as the menace that you do.") And yet even you said that you left your last church in part because of performance stuff. I think that you sense that there is something unsettling about the prospect of a worship service shifting in that direction. But this seems to be the crux of your problem with my statements- I don't think performance in a worship service is usually the best way to direct folks to God, and you seem to (and understand, what I mean by performance, for our purposes is any context where some folks are singing in mikes and others aren't). It's just a different viewpoint. I certainly haven't said that folks shouldn't attend whatever church they wanna (as you seem to imply.) Evidently, I hit on a nerve that I didn't realize was there. For me to critique a structure (not the people necessarily- there are tons of folks who do this music earnestly, though most that I know are genuinely conflicted by the stage/ performance thing- they don't change it cause their church building was designed that way, with the snake leading to a stage, for example) that I find troubling has turned into your suggestion that I think my "preferences ought to be shared by everybody else".

So, forgive me for the inelegance of my first post. I genuinely was talking about the structure (which I am able to percieve and feel the effects of) and not individual's motivations (which I'm not able to percieve). I see how it came across that way, but I just didn't think I needed to take the time to draw that distinction (which I hope is clearer now). For what it's worth, I first had true problems with this aspect of church services when I was playing at a church, and the instructions were that during a prayer musicians would exit the stage. I thought "Why?" and then I thought "Why are we even on a stage in the first place, now that I think of it?" I think most musicians are on the stage cause it's there and that's how it's done. But I can't say that it felt much different to be approached and told "your music just blest me so much!" as it did to be told "you guys rock" after my regular shows. I liked them both. Too much. To my shame.

Ultimately, I was just trying to say, for those of you who DO have a problem with performance in worship services (whether it's a choir or a band) there is a much neglected alternative (Sacred Harp). For those who don't, I have nothing to say of much importance to them, I supose...

As for Sacred Harp, don't knock it till you've tried it. I know, nobody knocked it. But I imagine that for some of you, my suggestion sounds as realistic as if I had said "let's all become delta blues singers from the 1930's" or even, "let's all sing Handel on Sundays", depending on your perception of Sacred Harp.

Like I said, it's hard to put myself in a pre-Sacred Harp mindset, as it IS positively revolutionary, and one cannot look at alot of other church music in the same way after much exposure to it. And together they said "Thank goodness we haven't had much exposure to it."

Matt

Hi Andy-

I remember meeting you (I think I was with Josh J). Howdy!

Right, that was the context. Good to see you.

You say: They're not up there to have people look at them.

Then why, pray tell, are they up there? On a stage? In front of people? There is something to be said of the old model of placing the choir behind the congregation. While I certainly don't know the hearts of folks doing this, I know where the dangers lie. For years, I played guitar in front of a church, etc. I don't blame the musicians for the existence of that stage, but would urge music ministers to get musicians off of them. They don't need to be there.

They're up there to lead worship. Frankly, the position/place of musicians in a worship service is immaterial to me. I don't care. It doesn't affect my ability to worship (or lack thereof) one iota. My ability to worship depends on me, the attitudes I bring into a worship service, and how I position/place myself before God. Whether someone stands in front of me or behind me with or without a guitar is simply not worth debating, in my opinion. In terms of worship, I think you should find a church where you're able to fully and freely worship. And I think I should do the same. And I think it's problematic for either one of us to imply that our worship preferences ought to be shared by everybody else.

As far as the performance aspect of worship, I simply don't see it as the menace that you do. Performance is a potential pitfall in any aspect of the Christian life where communication is involved. I've seen plenty of Christians bullshit one another in entirely convincing ways because they were able to articulately mouth the words they were expected to say. Some of those performances were worthy of an Oscar. But I left a very nice, proper stained glass and pews and robed choir church partly because of the performance aspects I saw, and I'm quite content in a church that incorporates contemporary praise and worship music precisely because I don't see those performance aspects. I see men and women who face me and play their musical instruments and sing, and whose desire is to facilitate the congregation in worship. Most of the people who do this appear to have some musical talent. This is a good thing, in my opinion, just as it's a good thing that my pastor has some insight into the Christian life and can communicate well. Why would it be a bad thing to acknowledge that some people are more gifted than others musically? But again that doesn't impact my ability to worship. Only I can worship. That band up there can't do it for me. And I'm fairly confident that the people in the Samsonite chairs (no pews, although that's yet another thing I don't give an ecclesiastical rip about) understand that as well.

By the way, I grant that my statements were of the blanket variety, but as there are exceptions to most rules, I figured that went without saying.

But your rule is false. It's not that "there are exceptions to most rules." It's that your rule is based on an incorrect perception of contemporary worship. I don't doubt that there are some people who are involved in leading worship who are doing it for selfish/egotistical reasons. Ego has a nasty way of insinuating itself into even our best intentions. But I don't know anyone (truly, and I know hundreds of people who are involved in contemporary worship music) whose goal is to draw attention to themselves, or who think "Wow, I sure hope, nay, pray, because I want to be spiritual about this, that the congregation notices that cool new guitar riff I've worked into "Now Is the Time to Worship."" The people I know, across the board, recognize that their egos can get in the way, pray earnestly that that doesn't happen, and genuinely desire to worship God and facilitate others in worshipping God.

You said: But you've essentially branded a huge segment of the evangelical church as inferior Christians. They can't worship. And you're wrong. I hope you'll rethink your position.

I'm not sure how this came across. Of course I don't think of any of these folks as inferior anything. I'm simply suggesting that while the music of most churches involves performance on some level, whether it's a robed choir or a rock band, there is an alternative which seems to suit the spirit of Christian worship more closely, to my mind. If you were to attend a Sacred Harp singing (not a performance!), I'd be very surprised if you didn't come away thinking how less like a performance it is than very many Protestant churches. Just a hunch.

It came across in this statement:

The congregation is not exactly playing a critical role. It's a performance. And the musicians want to be seen as much as the audience wants to see the musicians.

You're 0 for 3 in that paragraph. First the congregration is, in fact, playing a major role because they are worshipping. They're not watching people worship. They're worshipping. That's why there are there. Can you understand why someone might take offense when you brand huge swaths of the church as passive concert-goers? It's not true. Second, the musicians are not performing. They are leading worship. I've already discussed this. And third, the musicians don't particularly want to be seen. That's not why they're there. Many of the folks who play in our worship band also play in rock 'n roll bands. I've seen them when they want to be seen, on Friday and Saturday nights at the local bars, and I can assure you that their demeanor is quite different on Sunday morning. Although sometimes I think our worship might be enlivened if the guitarist played on his back while writhing on the floor.

Sorry if I offended you. Didn't mean to...

No problem, Matt. Really. But I am trying to explain why some of your comments seem misguided at best, insulting at worst.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my work, I struggle with a lot of these concerns. This is a different direction, as it is not worship in a church setting (and I don't think my concerns translate completely to the church setting). I book concerts at a college. I have not wanted to book worship concerts, because of some of the concerns listed here, and others. But students really do want me to book these concerts. I have tried to say that we book popular music - this is our expertise. I have no expertise to know what a good worship artist sounds like. Also, I think the reason the students look to the student activities board to book worship concerts is due to an association (which is a bad thing, imo) that has happened because of the Christian music industry - why do these students associate worship experiences with rock concerts? Because when they go to see a worship concert, they pay admission, there is a light show, they see some sense of performance (maybe only sometimes?), there is a merch table.

Again, I'm not talking about worship leading in a church. But what do I do with my struggles booking shows? We decided to try partnering with our College Ministries so we could do these shows (they lend their expertise on worship, we lend ours on running shows). We did Jeff Deyo a few years ago, and had Keith and Kristyn Getty last year. Students did not know who the Gettys were, but they definitely felt like the good kind of worship leaders (and songwriters) that are being described by Andy and others here.

But I'm still left with my struggles. Why do we pay artists big money to come to town, and charge money so that they can lead us in worship? We have local churches that do that, and many of them do it very well. And if the Student Activities Board is sponsoring concerts like The National and Wilco, and also worship concerts, isn't it equating the two at some level, saying that these experiences are similar? And if I do these things, what do I call them? Worship concerts? Shows? Those terms seem problematic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't help myself... I enjoyed this entry on one of my favorite blogs, "Stuff Christians Like."

A few months ago, a friend that works at a big church told me about a new service they were starting. The conversation went like this:

Friend:

"We're about to start a new service called 'the Zone.'"

Me:

"The Zone? Is that just the new name for your contemporary service?"

Friend:

"No, we're still going to have a traditional service and a contemporary service, this is a brand new format. This is the Zone."

Me:

"What does that mean?"

Friend:

"It's kind of like the contemporary service, but it has more electric guitar. It rocks a little harder than the contemporary service."

Me:

(At this point, if I had been more honest I would have said) "Then why don't you just name it 'the more electric guitar' service." (Or I could have said) "That's it, I'm officially starting my own church." (Instead, I said) "Oh. I see." (And then proceeded to throw an imaginary smoke bomb and roll out of the room unseen.)

We like creating new services. We like putting our hymnals in the closet and getting a graphic designer with a nose ring to create a new logo for the "iXtreamtastical Zone" service. And we do it because we think you want it that way.

You don't like hymns. We know this. When you come to church for the first time and you see a musty off red hymnal, you're a little disappointed. We understand. You want something more upbeat. More "today" if you will. More "phat" as the kids are saying. You want us to "put on for our city" as Young Jeezy would say. So we created "contemporary" services for you. And by that, I mean we added a drummer to the stage. His name is Darren and he used to be in Journey. OK, it was a Journey cover band called "Oh Sherry" which doesn't even make sense because that was when Steve Perry was solo but Darren's a good guy. He's in a fishbowl. And for a while everything worked well. We sang a lot of Chris Tomlin. I mean a lot.

But that wasn't enough. You wanted more. (Insert your own cowbell joke here.) So we hired a consultant with frosted tips and a cool business card. He told us that we need to push the envelope and think outside the box. He said we needed more synergy with our community and that we had to shift our paradigm. He said we had to be more "impactful" which is not even a real word. It felt like he was just saying fake sentences and words until he wore us down. It worked, we gave up. We got the lasers. We got the smoke machine that sets off the fire alarm every now and then. We're going to sing Coldplay's new song "Viva la Vida" this Sunday. Maybe we'll do Kanye West's "Jesus Walks" soon too. We even made Bono type sunglasses mandatory for our worship leader. But now he can't see the words of the songs and sometimes sings "How gray is our God" instead of "How great is our God."

We hope you like it because we're at 11 on the scale of 1-10 when it comes to rocking out. We can't rock any harder. This is it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't help myself... I enjoyed this entry on one of my favorite blogs, "Stuff Christians Like."...
In all due respect, the story that blogger shared is the exception, not the rule. In fact, the current general consensus in youth/young-adult circles is actually moving towards more of a postmodern ancient/future model--hymns, candles, incense, Holy Communion, iconography, stories, chant. That you are promoting Sacred Harp is part of this movement.

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To clarify...

1) I am not promoting Sacred Harp. I am a different Matt. I get the whole po-mo ancient/future thing.

2) I just thought the Stuff Christians Like post was funny and thought people might enjoy that blog.

Cheers!

My bad. Sorry. Have a nice day.

Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't help myself... I enjoyed this entry on one of my favorite blogs, "Stuff Christians Like."...
In all due respect, the story that blogger shared is the exception, not the rule. In fact, the current general consensus in youth/young-adult circles is actually moving towards more of a postmodern ancient/future model--hymns, candles, incense, Holy Communion, iconography, stories, chant. That you are promoting Sacred Harp is part of this movement.

I feel blessed, intrigued really, to know that I am riding a cresting wave of worshipful nowness. :D I thought I was just seeking out high church and liturgy.

For a period of time, I played guitar in "the New Silver Lights". It happened that the new referred to me. I replaced the original guitar player who had joined, along with the other members, in the Navy during World War II. It wasn't what would now be considered worship, it was loud, in your face gospel. The church(es) jumped when we played. There were times where I was the guitar player, on the floor, rocking out "in the spirit".

I spent some time in front of a Vineyard and a Presbyterian church leading "contemporary" worship. Solo's were distractiong, so were "personalities", adjustments were made. Jesus finds us where we are. It is a profound experience to aid in the process of worship. It is leadership. It requires responsibility. Strong leaders can take people to places that they may not know how to get to on their own. I just have to figure out if the leader I am following is taking me where I need to be. YMMV.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

Plato

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:lol:

That blog is funnier than I remembered.

Are we still naming songs? Cuz it occurred to me that there are some Innocence Mission songs that make pretty good "praise and worship" ditties. In particular,

"Morning Star"

"You are the Light"

and

"Christ is my Hope"

even though I've never heard it. I've treasured the lyrics for a while.

Everything that matters is invisible.

-- Robert Bresson

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

This is just a shot in the dark, but has anyone here ever witnessed a performance by the Providence/LA electronic music artists Lucky Dragons? Not a religious band in any way, but seriously opens up new paradigms for renegotiating audience/performer relationships, oriented around a transcendent communal experience. This is the closest thing to worship music for me right now. Sort of resonates with some of the issues Matt is raising.

Imagine a couple hundred people crammed into an old gymnasium. The room is dark, lit only by a video projector, pointed upward in the center of the room, projecting jittery tesselations and ghostly fuzz and gauzy shifting colors heavenwards, looking almost like stained glass, or leaves. A mess of electronics lies in the center of the basketball court. There's a tall, lanky guy (Luke Fischbeck) with a weird haircut messing with the equipment, but you can't really see what he's doing.

Here's a reviewer from the Seattle Sound with the rest of the story:

"

He fiddled with knobs, plugged and unplugged cords, and pressed buttons on an assembly of devices, unleashing variously-distorted strains of electronic music. It sounded like malfunctioning robots playing kotos....Fischbeck started handing out something-candy? drugs?-to the audience members seated around him. The crowd pulled in tight as everyone leaned in to figure out what was going on. Rocks! Rocks? People grabbed handfuls of them and passed them back. Fishbeck then gave out some apparently touch-sensitive electronic devices to the crowd. As people touched them with their rocks, they triggered different samples. People gathered in clusters, tapping their rocks and passing the devices around, creating a multi-layered wall of sound. It sounded better than it should have. [What the reviewer didn't realize is that Fischbeck's toys also included devices that modulated the music based on skin-to-skin contact between humans. Hold hands with a friend and it changes the music.]

At some point, the audience-created soundscape ended and Fischbeck got the crowd to start the handclap equivalent of a drum circle. There was sort of one prevailing rhythm and countless other riffs going. The clapping continued as Fischbeck disconnected his equipment and walked out of the circle.

The performance has ended, but the audience keeps going, and also starts singing spontanteously. It turns into this: http://vimeo.com/1402985

until I have to step in and turn the lights on to get ready for the next band.

Edited by Holy Moly!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 months later...

so can someone recommend some sacred harp compilations? a friend of mine included some selections on a mix CD - enjoyed the sheer exuberance of it all - but i have no idea where to begin. hmm?

(fyi - if you really want to help - i snag my downloads from emusic)

Edited by techne

I don't deny that there should be priests to remind men that they will one day die. I only say it is necessary to have another kind of priests, called poets, to remind men that they are not dead yet. - G. K. Chesterton

Link to comment
Share on other sites

so can someone recommend some sacred heart compilations? a friend of mine included some selections on a mix CD - enjoyed the sheer exuberance of it all - but i have no idea where to begin. hmm?

(fyi - if you really want to help - i snag my downloads from emusic)

I think you mean Sacred Harp. If so, then the soundtrack to the wonderful documentary "Awake My Soul" is a great place to start. Matt Hinton, the director, posts on A&F from time to time. It's available from Amazon here; I'm not sure about emusic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

so can someone recommend some sacred heart compilations? a friend of mine included some selections on a mix CD - enjoyed the sheer exuberance of it all - but i have no idea where to begin. hmm?

(fyi - if you really want to help - i snag my downloads from emusic)

I think you mean Sacred Harp. If so, then the soundtrack to the wonderful documentary "Awake My Soul" is a great place to start. Matt Hinton, the director, posts on A&F from time to time. It's available from Amazon here; I'm not sure about emusic.

umm...yes. sacred harp. heh.

btw, an article (http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/2009/janfeb/9.12.html) about traveling home and a sacred feast, a couple o' books about sacred harp singing.

Edited by techne

I don't deny that there should be priests to remind men that they will one day die. I only say it is necessary to have another kind of priests, called poets, to remind men that they are not dead yet. - G. K. Chesterton

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 10 months later...

I confess to liking a tobyMac song or two.

For lack of a better place to post, here's a review of Tobymac's recent performance here in Northern Virginia.

Wearing tighter jeans than Elvis ever dared, Mac explained that the group was there to "drop a joy bomb on Fairfax, Virginia."

Hey, at least he got the location correct. ;)

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 years later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...