My wife and I are admitted “Gleeks” since about the end of the first season. For whatever reason, this current season isn’t doing it for us. We half-watched the most recent episode (where the boys of the Glee Club produce a male model calendar to raise money), and my wife and I discussed our feelings on the show. Her assessment was:
“They made it all smutty. That’s what you do when you don’t have any real ideas.”
It’s the easy kill. When you don’t have a character-driven plot, you can rest assured: Sex sells.
So what does this have to do with a Wednesday Worship post?
Simple. As worshipers, we need to make sure we’re not going for the “easy kill.”
The great thing about worship music is that it touches the emotions so powerfully, which is also the worst thing about it.
As worship leaders, we can chain together a number of moving choruses, maybe working in some sweet transitions so that one song flows into another smoothly. We know how to build up excitement and how to bring things down into intimacy. We know how to drive the beat with energy and how to slow things down with passion. We can orchestrate emotional highs and lows, playing the congregation like another instrument in the band.
We must never do this. That’s what you do when you don’t have any real ideas.
Louie Giglio (yes, the one that didn’t get to speak at the Inauguration) tweeted something on Sunday that I really appreciated. “Preparing to lead others in worship instinctively requires some worship of our own.” My worship pastor’s wife posted something similar: “When you’ve been in the Word all week at home, worship at church is WAY sweeter!”
I used to think, “Man, I hope the worship team does something awesome on Sunday to get me motivated.” Then I learned, when I was already excited about what God was doing, I didn’t care what songs they played — I was just happy to respond to Him.
I’ve seen this on a larger scale in churches where much of the congregation sticks around after the service just to sing praises and celebrate who God is and what He’s done. I’ve had to play for over an hour after the official close of the service just because people are still eager to respond to God’s love. (I say “had to” but it was a privilege.)
It wasn’t anything we did as a worship team; it’s what people focused on, and it was our commitment as a church to seek God and not just a good time.
Worship is not about doing what sells, hitting the right chords to pluck the heart-strings of the congregation. It’s about a meaningful relationship, a set of songs that matters and communicates truth, an expression of love and gratitude that helps us come in line with what God is doing in our midst.
Any decent worship team can go the Glee route and perform the current Top 40 hits to manufacture a response. But that’s the easy road, the equivalent of smut episodes during May sweeps.
I want to be sure that my worship is authentic. I want the plot of my worship to be character-driven, coming to know God’s character and seeing my own reshaped to match His.
If I realize I don’t have any idea what that is, it’s not time to play songs for cheap thrills. It’s time to get some revelation.