There’s a problem…
More like a crisis.
It's becoming widely accepted among the church community to refer to worship and music as the same thing. Put another way, we use the word "worship" as a synonym for music.
You see this little mixup all the time in "worship"- websites, records, announcements, labels, genres, publications and training conferences. We even use "worship" as a title for pastors and leaders. Worship Pastor. Worship Leader.
The assumption is that worship stands for the music stuff at church. In fact, most people describe their best worship experiences as a time that involved music.
Right now, if you GOOGLE worship - images… what do you see? Stages, lights, bands... and a lot of silhouetted hands being lifted up. Like... a lot of hands.
Now don't get me wrong, worshiping through music is definitely worship. Unfortunately, today's worship has been narrowed down to just that, worshiping through music.
This should leave us hugely disappointed. For many it doesn't. And here's where it gets more problematic...
When I ask people what is worship, the response I often hear is "It's a lifestyle".
Great! Some have figured out that worship isn't solely music. There's hope! However, when I follow up with- what kind of lifestyle?
"uh, doesn't the Bible say?"
God has a lot more for us in mind when we consider worship and music. There are entire books in the Bible dedicated to worship with music... and without music. I think it's fair to say that we need to spend some time learning about what the Scriptures have to say about worship as a lifestyle.
God clearly doesn't want one without the other. Remember Isa. 29:13: "The Lord says: 'These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me".
This is God's way of saying, I'm tired of your lip service. Will you really commit yourself to a relationship with Me?
This is the crisis.
God wants our whole heart. He wants a relationship with us. He's been trying to get our attention for a while. He really does want to take us deeper, but He can't get us there with music alone.
The prophets in biblical times gave us warnings. The song writers of our time have given us warnings. So the question really is, will we listen? Will we hear the warning and change our behavior.
Because if we don't, eventually our worship will fall flat.
For my buddy Nate, it was his iPod. He made a worship playlist for driving or going on long runs. It helped him ease the stress of life and feel closer to God. Eventually, the songs didn't do the trick anymore. They felt stale and repetitious.
He'd have to find a another way to worship God.
For my musician friend Ben, it was Biology class. He learned that the human body shoots endorphins to the brain when experiencing the lights and sounds at concerts. This changed his view of what was really happening at church; since the church used the same sort of production techniques to mimic those concerts. And so for him, the whole thing lost its magic.
Was the Spirit even moving? What was the point of it all?
For me it was in High School. I was getting pretty good at leading worship, yet I was still very, very far from being in a right relationship with God. Eventually, a close friend called me out on my dual lifestyle. And they were right. I needed to put down the guitar for a while to ask the question...
Do I even mean the words I'm singing?
We all need to ask these questions. They're good for us. What is worship? And why music?
Worship MUST be about something more.
The best way to talk about this is to recognize that you're talking about two things...
The "&" is important there. Understanding the difference between true worship and a simple music experience can help us rightly posture ourselves before God in all things.
Worship is all over the scriptures. It's defined for us in simple terms and with practical steps like, serving, bowing down, obedience, giving respect and fulfilling commitments. Meaning we can actually find out what pleases God, and go deeper in our love for Him without music.
Music is also all over the scriptures. It goes way beyond our narrow application in church today. Music is used to awaken, inspire and unify; but also to renew, heal, redeem, build up and even guide us into a deep-felt presence with God and others. Meaning we can go further into the things of the Spirit when we praise God through music.
This is amazing news! After all I'm a musician. I love writing and leading the church in worship music. It's what I do for a living. And now I can worship God without music too. No more lip service. More worship 24/7.
let's talk about worship and music. Let's discover the things mentioned above. There are so many important topics and questions that I'm dying to share with you. This is just the starting point.
I've enjoyed over 20 years of life doing both worship and music professionally around the world. I've discovered quite a few helpful tips and resources that I'd love to share with you, your musicians and your church. It's my deepest passion and my greatest prayer to help restore this generation, as worshipers of God- to help us rediscover just how incredible worshiping Him can be.
Please follow along here at michaelhugheswatson.com and on social media [links below].
worship leaders & pastors
This will be a paradigm shift in how we lead our church. If you have more questions (and you should) email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
We'll be hitting topics like:
-The different types of worship leaders | The role of a worship pastor.
-Leading music with excellence | Defining excellence
-Fostering a culture of worship and innovation | Creativity
-The relationship between "Lead Pastor" and "Music Pastor"
We'll also go over practical things like auditioning musicians, leading a band, the purpose of production and song writing.
I'll be posting every week practical steps to help further our understanding of worship and music. I invite you to join the conversation- ask the difficult questions! Let's work together.
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