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June 12, 2013

Comments

Yes, yes, a thousand times YES.

Wow, this has been on my mind a lot lately. Timely post! And well said.

I've heard these arguments before, and I just can't get behind them.

What biblical precedence do we have for the volume of the music? If the people can't hear each other, it's not worship? Do you hear yourself?

I love when it's loud. It ELIMINATES distractions, it doesn't foster them. Some people are MORE bold in their singing worship because their inhibitions of BEING heard are lessened. To paint the entire congregation with one brush like that seems callous, especially with no biblical basis evident here.

Secondly, people ought to be able to sing along. But that doesn't mean singing the same songs the same ways forever into eternity. I think singing a "new song" (Ps. 33:3) means just that. Not that we purposefully confuse the congregation with new melodies, but that we refresh timeless truths with new varieties that the congregation can learn.

No, it's not a show. But just because the music is loud and the melodies are not traditional does not mean that worship is not happening. As a worship leader and a congregant I've never thought such a way.

I highly recommend "Worship Matters" by Bob Kauflin. He deals with all these things in a very even-handed way.

I don’t think this is about what constitutes worship. We need to be very careful calling something "not worship".

What about the deaf? What about those that can’t speak? Can they worship in church when the music is playing? I believe they can. And it’s not because they can’t hear the “concert” noise.

I think these are good points, but I think they’re more personal preference related than they are primary necessities related to worship.

Let’s assume that the people in the church are fine with it. Let’s further assume they all feel God’s presence and feel its worship. Let’s further assume that God is being glorified. I don’t see the problem.

My personal preference is in line with Amy’s and Mr. Smith’s. So much so, that I'd avoid the concert like atmosphere. But I think it’s just that - preference.


Justin, I think the biblical basis for our being able to hear each other is the truth that we're worshiping as a body. You say that the loudness of the music eliminates distractions, but I actually think that's part of the problem. By shutting everything out around an individual person, that person is being isolated as an individual. But corporate worship is not about an individual spending time alone with God, it's about the bringing together of the different parts of the body God has gathered, worshiping as one body. By doing this, we're expressing and partaking in theological truths. We are

no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

This is what the church exists for:

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.... [S]peaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Ephesians 4:11-16).

When the music doesn't allow us to hear that corporate voice, it isolates us, and that disconnects us from each other and denies the truth of what the church is. On the other hand, a corporate experience--worship experienced together as the people of God--affirms the truth that we are the body of Christ, and it draws us together, moving our focus from an individual, inner one, to one that recognizes and joins with what is outside of us--that is, the rest of the body. We're reminded that we're just one part of a living temple God is building.

When I think about the most powerful worship times I've experienced, they've been the times when the living voices were surrounding me and I was part of them. On the other hand, the loneliest times of worship have been when I couldn't hear anyone worshiping (whether because the music was too loud or because no one was singing) and I felt that isolation.

I don't object to using melodies that aren't traditional--especially if the congregation is familiar with those new melodies. What I object to is when people take a familiar melody (traditional or non-traditional) and unexpectedly change bits here and there such that we can't sing along because the style changes week by week because of improvisations.

KWM, a deaf person can't connect with those around him by hearing their voices. Instead, he would connect and join in by sight. So for the same reasons, I wouldn't recommend separating all the people in the congregation into little cubicles so that they're not distracted by something they might see, because the point of corporate worship is not to be alone with God without distractions, it's to be together with the body, giving praise to God as one. A deaf person must do that in a slightly different way from a hearing person (i.e., by sight), but the principle of cultivating a sense of the body and not adding anything that would isolate people from each other remains.

Amy,

I'm mainly addressing calling something not worship. I understand how these things can play a role in worship, but I also understand how they don’t make worship. Even corporate worship.

If the corporate is in on it. I say rock on. That’s why I think it’s ultimately preference.

I agree that the "concert" aspect of the musical part of the service has turned it into something people who don't like it can avoid, since it is placed up front in the service order. Just come late if it turns you off; many do.

But why do we isolate "worship" as simply the singing part of the service? Paul in Romans 12:1 states "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship." I think we do the word "worship" a disservice when we use it to identify only that part of the service when people sing.

I come from a modern, Evangelical background, but my tastes have changed. Because, I'll tell you, I have absolutely no use for the concert-style, straining/croaking, indie wanna-be, percussion-heavy noise I have heard. As a drummer, I have contributed to that, and I hated all of it which is why I finally quit. It has turned me off of church, among other things.

When, during "worship" one Sunday, I saw the non-words "Na Na Na-na-na-na Na" flashed up on the Powerpoint, I knew it was over.

Amy,

I totally get what you're saying and agree with much of it. However, the flip side of it is that many people are turned off from the church by something that doesn't sound a particular way. In my teenage years I hated going to my parents church because it seemed so stuffy and "old". After time away from church, I came back to a different church in part because of the style of the worship and the preaching style of the pastor.

While this might not be the most mature response, the truth is we all carry that preference that KWM referred to and it's very easy for preference to unknowingly influence what we do or do not consider worship. I find myself doing that quite often at the church we go to - I'm a volunteer worship leader and also a congregant and different teams have different styles of music. Some I like, some I don't. But I choose to worship regardless of the style as long as the content is Biblical.

Regarding the times of musical interludes - yes it can easily be done out of a spirit of pride or "look at me", but it can also be very worshipful in and of itself. The Psalms make frequent reference to musical interludes where the musicians play.

But I think I have to agree with KWM - much of what we call worship can very easily just be personal preference. And not that personal preference is bad at all. But let's not confuse it with worship.

Darth Dutch

"I love when it's loud."
"That’s why I think it’s ultimately preference.

I think these statements belie a common misconception about worship in today's church: that it is about what WE "love".

Worship is not about what we want or what makes us feel good; it's not about what "does it" for us; it's not about whatever emotional high we get from singing a particular style of music, whether traditional or modern.

The Bible is replete with examples of those who tried to twist worship into something that pleased them rather than God: Cain, Nadab and Abihu, Uzzah, etc. The lesson God intends for us to hear and obey is succinctly summed in His response after consuming Aaron's sons for offering unauthorized fire:

"Among those who approach me I will be proved holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored."--Lev. 10:3

The point of worship is not to engage a personal preference or make us "feel good"; it's to ascribe to a great and holy God the honor and glory due His Name.

I highly recommend John MacArthur's book "Worship: the Ultimate Priority" as a thorough exposition of what the Bible says about worship.

The "soloist goes on an brief adventure" issue, I have addressed in our congregation. We often use a horn section, and use some arrangements where there is a musical interlude in a song. So I occasionally take a moment to give the congregation a reminder of what the word "selah" means (or, at least, what some scholars think is an acceptable variation of what it means) -- a pause for meditation or reflection on what you're doing or expressing in a given psalm or song.

And then, when a song has an instrumental break of more than four measures or so, we insert the word "selah" into the lyric projection, to encourage the congregation to not use the time just listening to what's being played, but to use the time to think or reflect a little more deeply on what they're singing about.

p,

Did anyone say that worship is about what we love? I said no such thing. Did I say it’s about what makes me feel good? No. Of course, I didn’t.

@KWM,

When you say, "That’s why I think it’s ultimately preference," I assume by "it" that you mean worship (whether you talk about music, or Christian service, or our life's attitude, etc.), and a sentiment such as that places the emphasis squarely on the worshipper. It takes the limelight away from the holy God of the universe and seeks to highlight the worshipper. It diminishes the Creator, and increases the creature. The Bible makes it clear time and again that such a thing should not be. Rather, our attitude must be, "He must increase, and I must decrease." Claiming "personal preference" as a legitimate way to rationalize a particular style of worship is the same attitude Cain displayed when he brought his unworthy offering from the field instead from the flock.

Rather than pandering to preference, we should be more concerned about things like:

  • Does this worship magnify God and not self?
  • Does this worship reflect and teach Biblical truth about God?
  • Is this worship done in a manner that displays a reverent fear of the almighty God as well as love and adoration for His perfect sacrifice on the cross?

All too often we boil it down to, "I don't like that type of music," and then others say, "That's okay, no harm, no foul, that's just your particular preference," when there is harm! The harm is that focus has been taken away from God and placed on someone other than God.

p,

You need to read it again.

The harm is that focus has been taken away from God and placed on someone other than God

You can rest easy.

The words haven't changed upon re-reading them, simply telling me to reread and rest easy is no Biblical ground to back up the implications of your statements and others that have made similar statements:

If the corporate is in on it. I say rock on. That’s why I think it’s ultimately preference.

This suggests that worship is somehow a "democratic" process by which a group of people agree on a particular way of worship, and that somehow is a legitimate way to figure out a way in which a corporate body should worship. I think I've addressed the Biblical position on that more than adequately.

Or, to put it another way, if " the corporate is in on it" then fine, but the corporate had better have turned to Scripture in consideration of things such as I mentioned earlier, and if that didn't happen and the reason the corporate decides to "rock on" is because the corporate prefers rocking on to singing from a hymnal (or vice versa), then that's unacceptable worship because it unduly magnifies personal preference.

Of course worship is about God. But if that's true, then I have to ask, why does God care about the volume?

God cares about authenticity, I would assume. But worship IS also about us, and to some degree, our personal preferences. This is why western churches more often have drums and guitars. African churches may have tribal drums and focus on voice. Urban churches may be more hip-hop. See how there's always an element of what appeals to the PERSON, so long as God's glory is not detracted. And volume neither adds nor detracts from God's glory, in my view. Therefore personal preference is a perfectly viable reason to DO or NOT DO something.

Amy, I take your point about the body gathering together, and I'm fully in support of that. But again, you appeal to your personal experience of hearing the congregation sing as "the most moving experiences". Well why in the world should we all adhere to your preference? I don't see any reason why hearing other people in the congregation sing is more spiritual than hearing the vocals from the stage. I've heard this argument before and I've yet to get a substantive answer. I'm already AT church, I'm with the body, and we're singing the same truths to God. Whether or not I can hear the person next to me is of no consequence to me, or to God. What if they're a terrible singer? Many people are, and they're terribly distracting.

My point is that it is fine to have concerns about the focus of worship and avoiding being too human-centric when it comes to certain methods, but to label something non-worship just because a decible threshold is crossed... that seems obviously false. 90db is worship, but 91db isn't? Let's be real, and evaluate the needs of each individual church as needed.

As an aside, OT worship seems to be constantly described as LOUD, both in the instrumentation AND the vocals of the participant.

Again, I would have to recommend "Worship Matters" by Bob Kauflin on this topic. Also, Lincoln Brewster has some amazing materials on the role of solos and instrumentation in worship. We have to avoid erring on either side of this issue.

But worship IS also about us, and to some degree, our personal preference...Therefore personal preference is a perfectly viable reason to DO or NOT DO something.

Utterly false, and flies in the face of clear Biblical examples to the contrary. This type of man-centered thinking is exactly why so many are engaged in false worship in today's church.

"P", you haven't addressed any of my points. If worship has ZERO to do with us, then why do we sing in English? Why do we play music that sounds good to the ear? These aren't things that matter to God, they're cultural preferences to make things sensible and appealing to the worshipper. God doesn't need us to sing in English, and He certainly doesn't have "ears" in the literal sense. As long as we play skillfully (Ps. 33:3), things like style ought not matter to God.

Being cautious of consumerist mentality is very wise, and I commend you for that. But being so fiercely anti-preference misses the obvious reasons that we choose certain things like style, quality, etc.

At some point we must make decisions about worship that God doesn't explicitly mention in scripture. And there's nothing wrong with making choices according to the preference of your congregation (or your worship leaders), provided they don't conflict with scripture.

If worship wasn't about us at all(albeit secondarily), it wouldn't be important that we sing on pitch, play well, meet at a reasonable hour, groom ourselves, etc. Truly, it wouldn't even matter if we showed up at all! Worship benefits both parties: first God, and the people secondarily. You're missing part of what worship is, if you don't recognize the mutual benefit of God and man.

I don't believe in man-centered worship. That is unbiblical. I believe in God-centered worship with a secondary mindfulness to appeal to the sensibilities of the people. If a particular issue doesn't matter to God, then we certainly are not wrong to cater to the desires of the people. It is my conviction that things like volume and style are example of these things.

I'd like you (and Amy) to at least consider that such categories exist, however. I think I've made a clear case for that.

In other words, isn't it possible that God is magnified even when we do certain things according to our preference, provided that they're not unbiblical?

I think the answer is obviously yes.

I'm in awe of God when there's a guitar solo stuck in a song somewhere. Because I know God gave him/her that ability, and they are using their gift for His glory. That's an awesome thing, being in awe of what humans can do instrumentally when God gifts them in such a way.

To follow up, why should this be so important? This issue is at the core of the Gospel; in fact, it's why we have the Gospel at all: that Jesus Christ might accumulate disciples so that they will worship Him for eternity. Let's turn to Scripture:

  • Worship is important enough that God cursed Cain for doing it the wrong way.
  • It's such a big deal that when the Israelites perverted themselves at Sinai with the golden calf (an object that they thought was God), God threatened to wipe out the entire nation and start over with Moses, and only through Moses' intercession did God relent and "only" 3,000 of them were killed.
  • It's important enough that God killed Nadab and Abihu, as well as Uzzah, for not following God's prescribed method of worship.
  • It's a big enough deal to God that believers must be "fit" to come before God in worship (Matt. 5:23-24), or else God doesn't want our unacceptable worship.
  • It's important enough that if we were to cease to worship God properly, then the very rocks of the ground would cry out to God in worship.
  • It's so critical that when the woman at the well asked Jesus which way of worship was right, the Samaritan way at Mt. Gerizim or the Jewish way at Jerusalem, Jesus called both ways wrong because by that time they were both doing it according to their own preference rather than the way in which God had prescribed.

That tells me it's pretty important, that mine or anyone else's "personal preference" has zero place in worship considerations, and that we better get it right!

In other words, false worship says that worship somehow conforms to preference; however, the opposite is true, that preference always conforms to true worship. Worship is supra-preferential.

I believe in God-centered worship with a secondary mindfulness to appeal to the sensibilities of the people.

Then you have to be able to show in Scripture where part of worship is to have a "secondary mindfulness" designed to appeal to people's sensibilities.

Hey I'm totally with you, worship is very very important. Even setting aside a lot of the Old Testament misapplication you've done here.

But you're right, worship is extremely important to God. My point is, you haven't demonstrated that what I'm suggesting is FALSE WORSHIP. You haven't even answered any of my questions or examples. You just keep stating your points.

What about things that God mentioned no preference for? That's what we're talking about, and that's what you've yet to address. Because God doesn't mention song volume in scripture. He doesn't tell us about guitar solos or meeting times, or lights, or whether or not to use a stage. He doesn't tell us that we have to be able to hear each other singing.

So please answer this, how do we make decisions regarding those things?

By the way, you've misstated what Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4. He doesn't say they're both wrong. In truth, the Jews WERE right and the Samaritans were wrong. But what he DOES say is that there is a time coming (the new covenant) wherein people will worship differently and these particular locations will cease to matter (another reason many of your OT examples don't hold water). Let's read exactly what Jesus said:

21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Worship in Spirit. Worship in truth. If anything, this scripture works against you, not for you.

In other words, isn't it possible that God is magnified even when we do certain things according to our preference, provided that they're not unbiblical?

That's my whole point, is that it's not possible and has no place in true worship of God. I think you are substituting "culture" for "preference." I fully acknowledge cultural trappings for which we are "a part of" (although they're less important than many make it because ultimately the Gospel transcends cultures.) This, however, is different from mere "personal preference" (a.k.a., appealing to people's sensibilities.)

Please, p. Get off your high horse.

I wrote:

I think these are good points, but I think they’re more personal preference related than they are primary necessities related to worship.

This implies that there are, in fact, primary necessities related to worship. That I even have to point this out is troubling (and I’m mad at myself for even taking the time to do so).

Still, people choose (or prefer if you will) to worship in different ways. Corporate and personal. Some bow their heads. Some reach for hands. Some kneel. Some play music loud. Others sing softly. Others fold their hands and look to Heaven. Others raise their hands in the air and close their eyes. What are these if they’re not preferences? You can call them Holy Spirit inspired preferences. I’m fine with that. If that’s the case, then consider “preferences” shorthand and consider your pushback on this issue a waste of time.

If you still have issues, I’d ask something simple. Like: Is it okay to “prefer” a particular song during worship? Say, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” on Easter? Or is that a little too much preference for you?

Friend, people are a subset of culture. We appeal to culture on a-biblical points, and there is no reason to not appeal to congregational preferences on a-biblical points, since they are reflections of cultural preference.

You've painted a world where God's commands and human preferences are mutually exclusive. I think that's a huge mistake. First we adhere to scripture. Second, we do what we like. That's not just a pattern for worship, it's a pattern for all of life. If we're walking in the Spirit, then what we choose WILL be what God chooses, provided it does not violate his decrees.

I think Greg's decision-making and the will of God material really applies here as well, if you haven't checked it out already.

KWM, I think that is incredibly well-said. It's impossible to avoid preference at all cost. I don't see biblical precedence for that, and I think God is neutral on those issues, if not, supportive of our preferences in situations like that.

I would find it incredibly difficult to live day to day for God while ignoring my preferences at every turn. It seems utterly absurd.

It's obviously possible for God to work through our preferences. He does it all the time. KWM gave great examples.

By the way, you've misstated what Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4. He doesn't say they're both wrong. In truth, the Jews WERE right and the Samaritans were wrong.

I'm glad you brought up this Scripture, because this is a very important passage. At that time, the Jews were engaged in false worship contrary to the Hebrew law given by God in the OT. That is why when Jesus returned to Jerusalem, the first thing he did was to cleanse the temple of those who had perverted true worship of God and turned it into a commodity designed to enrich themselves (seems to be a common theme.)

Further, Jesus said that Samaritans were wrong because they had no knowledge of the OT law. He further implied that Jews were wrong because they knew the truth of the matter, but lacked the spirit. To quote a prominent theologian, "the worship that occurred on Mount Gerizim was enthusiastic heresy. The worship offered at Jerusalem was barren, lifeless orthodoxy. Jerusalem had the truth but no spirit. Gerizim had the spirit but no truth. Jesus rebuked both styles of worship when he said, 'God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in Spirit and in truth.'"

Further, my many OT examples hold much water, and are totally vital and applicable in gaining an understanding of true worship!

I'm curious who the "prominent theologian" is.

Your OT examples show a poor understanding of the new covenant, and what it means to "boldly approach the throne of grace". What you're suggesting sounds legalistic (I use the term cautiously) and rigid. It sounds like you're sewing up the veil once again.

People were killed on the spot for not taking seriously God's commands for the tabernacle. We have no appropriate analog in the new covenant, since the veil has been torn.

I'd love to hear you answer KWM's post.

By the way, the Jews were worshipping the correct place. That is what Jesus says.

The cleansing of the temple was in the temple gates, not outside where they were supposed to be. There was nothing wrong with them selling sacrifices, it was the location which they were violating.

Justin, KWM's post doesn't require a response; I think it speaks for itself.

By the way, thanks for your appeal to Scripture. I think that's one of the main problems in America today, especially with the topic of worship, is that people too often claim it as a "grey area" in Scripture simply because they either don't know or don't like what it says.

The quote was from John MacArthur's book I referenced earlier. Most people would probably say, "well, see, he's just bashing modern music." You'd be surprised to find out for the parts where he addresses music (minority part of the book), he actually spends most of the time bashing traditional Gospel hymns that were written 150 years ago! Anyway, it surprised me when I read it. I can't speak to the book you recommended since I haven't read it yet.

I guess to summarize, when I hear people start talking about "personal preference", that automatically sounds very man-centered and self-reliant, rather than simply leading a service in a Biblical manner and depending upon the work of God for any "results." In this it sounds like we both agree.

Of note, if the OT references I (correctly) appealed to don't suit you, then how about this one from the NT:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

In other words the way in which we worship should be designed to teach and admonish us through the Word.

There was nothing wrong with them selling sacrifices, it was the location which they were violating.

That's incorrect. What they were violating was the fact that they had turned God's house into a "den of thieves." The location had nothing to do with it. It's a consistent theme that Jesus had for those who you claim "WERE right"; he went so far as to call the worship leaders of that day "whitewashed tombs."

Your OT examples show a poor understanding of the new covenant...People were killed on the spot for not taking seriously God's commands for the tabernacle. We have no appropriate analog in the new covenant, since the veil has been torn.

Where you say "not taking seriously God's commands for the tabernacle", well, that's worship. So you can just as correctly say, "not taking seriously God's commands for worship." And you are correct in that we have no direct analogy in the NT, but the point I'm making is that the principle demonstrated is the important thing, and is still applicable today.

I would find it incredibly difficult to live day to day for God while ignoring my preferences at every turn. It seems utterly absurd.

Isn't that the point of being a Christian, that we are crucified with Christ, and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us?

I would find it incredibly difficult to live day to day for God while ignoring my preferences at every turn. It seems utterly absurd.

Isn't that the point of being a Christian, that we are crucified with Christ, and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us?

Sorry I just keep thinking of these things. One might raise an objection and say something like, "but this isn't talking about things like preference, etc."

Isn't it though? Isn't the whole point of being sanctified by the Holy Spirit to bring us to the point where we say "Not my will, but thine" in every single thing we can ever say, think, or do? Isn't that the example that Jesus Christ lived out for us here on earth? The narrative of Jesus in Gethsemane applies here as well...as an aside, Alistair Begg has a tremendous 2-part sermon on that passage called "The Suffering Servant" that I cannot recommend enough.

It is incredibly difficult, which is why it's not about us, because we would fail in this and do fail in this time after time. But I pray for the day in my own life where I can totally disregard anything of my personal preference and for every single little thing, no matter how minute or how seemingly insignificant or how seeming silent Scripture might be, turn to God and say, "God, I don't want my will in this; what is your will in this?"

I think this another way of saying what you said earlier, where you talked about if we were walking in the Spirit, then whatever we "choose" would be according to God's will...

I cant help but agree with "p". I, although subtly, see a man centeredness in most of the views expressed. Although nearly any of what I see as man centered approaches could be addressed the same way, I want to respond to
Amy's response to Justin:

"When I think about the most powerful worship times I've experienced, they've been the times when the living voices were surrounding me and I was part of them. On the other hand, the loneliest times of worship have been when I couldn't hear anyone worshiping (whether because the music was too loud or because no one was singing) and I felt that isolation."

This implies that meaningful worship is subjective to the worshipper. I wont repeat much of what "p" has said, [and even though his use of the OT scriptures having been challenged, they'd stand as examples of what happens when men decide to worship according to their own subjective whims], but would add that a theme in the New Testament centers around what it looks like to be a true worshipper. He must be worshipped in spirit and truth...not just spirit. Worship of God is corporate worship, done in compliance. There is not a lot of room for personal preference....[I didn't say no room, btw]

Amy quotes Eph. 4, God gave pastor, teachers, evangelists,...etc for the building up of the saints

    until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man,
to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ... The unity of the faith coupled with a unified knowledge of the Son of God produces a mature saint.

"1 Cor 1:10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment"
and

"Rom 15:5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,
Rom 15:6
    so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Worship is done with a kind of unity, not just any unity, but a unity with knowledge of God by participants striving to have the mind of Christ and be in one accord...not seeking value in it for the worshipper, but participating in the public, corporate, worship of God on His terms.


Hmm, formatting didn't come out as planned, there was supposed to be some underlined sections that came out as a kind of offset quote within the quote.

This is a test

When I was young I was forced to comply. “Raise your hands young man! Don’t you love God?!?” They called this love. They called this worship. They called this experiencing God. And if you didn’t squint your eyes hard enough, or, if you didn’t raise your hands a certain way, or, if you fell flat on your face in Grace when they said, “Everybody JUMP!”, or, if you JUMPED in pure delight at His rescue while they said, “Everybody BE STILL!” (all the while telling us to “just get close to Him, just do what you need to do right now!”) it was made quite clear through the subtle trickle-down nuances via the super-spiritual inner-circles that you just were not as spiritual as you should be. Shame came through in the inner circles……… shame on you for not doing the most intimate of all motions any created agent could ever do our way. “Son, you just don’t understand, THAT is “not” worship -- THIS “is” worship.”


And that shame led to my departure. Sort of. I just knew I wasn’t good enough for Him.


Now, sometimes when they stand in worship, I sit. Sometimes when they sit in worship, I stand. It is wholly Other and Outer focused, wholly In and Him focused. Loud. Quite. Still. Motion. Whatever.


I had to do this. I had to leave.


It meant my survival. Sort of.


Some parts of Church could have killed me.


Law. Formula. And in the most intimate of motions we can ever move within.


It seems Formulas will always be this way over there, that way over here, and so on. I can’t count the patterns of colors Love makes in something as simple as color-patterns laced all through the myriad of feather-patterns in something as un-spiritual as the birds of the air. Surely God was mistaken. I’m sure He meant for His creations and formulas to be purely monotone from top to bottom. I am sure His Kingdom is quite monotone. I mean, surely our most intimate moments within love’s embraces are formulated monotone embraces. Surely. Our harps will have, not four stings lest we sin, but only one cord there in Love’s Delight called “heaven”. We have to be careful here on what it is we are trusting. We ought be quite careful how we handle this with our children with regard to how it’s done, with regard to formula. The lesson of coming under authority is an important one; it ought not be the only lesson. Out of the mouth of babes; let them cry. Shout. Fall. Jump. Handle with care. The child’s lesson in authority has its times and its places. So too the child’s worship. They will not always be the same lesson. We need to be humble. The diversity of His Delights will always outreach our forms and formulas. If we miss this, our children will hear us loud and clear: You’re just not good enough.

When I say, “Some parts of Church could have killed me” I mean by that many things, but, for just one example:

The moments of Formula seem to never be put into actual words. It’s more the pattern of, well, “Everybody take a few minutes and get close to Him” is what is said, and, then, over several minutes, for whatever reason, about fifty will go up and kneel at the front. Now, the worship leaders seem to “sense the weight” of the moment….. and another fifty come up to the front…. Now, the few hundred left are, well, suddenly, not quite as spiritual in true worship because the inner-circle is, every one of them, up there kneeling at the front. Surely THIS “is” worship. And so, all but one goes up and kneels. There’s a move on. The one left has yet to raise her eyes as she’s standing, face down, delighting in Him. Now, this teen will, the next day, subtly be made aware that she sort of “missed something” when God’s “move was on”.


And this is the beginning of her end. “I missed God”. “I didn’t have the right formula”. “God gave everyone but me the Road-To-Damascus touch”.

And the majority actually believe this of the minority.

Democratic. We-Focused. Man-Focused.

“She couldn’t have been worshiping Him then. I mean, everyone else had the move on.”


She missed Him. Or, what inevitably comes to form within her via the unspoken yet subtly communicated trickle-down is this: “He bypassed me”.

This is the beginning of her end.


We slammed His door in her face. The message gets “through” to her, though never spoken. We all knelt. She stood.

This process happens in a multitude of ways and trickles down inevitably. We trust Form. We trust Formula.


“……..You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to……”


Nice post. Dead on. In addition, the melodies are pitched so high that most men can't sing them. Since there aren't notes on a page with lower parts any more, most men just stand there.

This all makes interesting reading! I guess I didn't get many of the things being brought up as far as Amy's post is concerned. I generally thought about the song leader who has a whole room singing and praising and worshipping God through the corporate vehicle of our voices, who suddenly just pauses some of the words and then takes them in another direction, while the rest of the people are continuing on with the song as we know it. As soon as we realize he's singing something different, and we can't follow along, we begin to back off singing and, eventually, he's doing a solo thing up there. I thought that's what Amy was commenting on!

Can a deaf person participate in corporate worship?

"Can a deaf person participate in corporate worship?"
Sure can Dan, through word and sacrament. Worship of God is not "singing" alone.

Dan (hello!), deaf people participate in the singing, as well. They often sign with the music instead of singing out loud. (And see my comment to KWM above.) The point is, they do so as part of the body. The more every person, regardless of who they are, can be drawn in as part of the congregation to reflect and teach the truth that we are all one body, the better. This may look slightly different for different people, and hopefully the leaders will take this into consideration when making decisions for the service.

Brad, yes, this post was particularly about music, but I certainly don't deny that all of the service is worship.

It's unfortunate when people feel that they can't worship God because of what is going on around them. Though, I tend to think that the real issue lies with the people who need things just right in order to worship God, rather than with the circumstance in which they find themselves in. If Paul, in prison, can worship God then surely you and I can regardless of the volume of the room, our familiarity with the lyrics or the way they are being sung by others.

In other words, like Justin, I'm taking issue with the "it's not worship" statements.

Hi Levi, your statement:

"Though, I tend to think that the real issue lies with the people who need things just right in order to worship God, rather than with the circumstance in which they find themselves in."

makes me want to probe a little.

I think this discussion is really focused on corporate worship, so in the context of individual, or the apostle Paul, examples are not under the same constraints as the public worship of God is.

As the interlocutor "p" has mentioned, there are many biblical references where men of note did what felt right to them and suffered death for it. The loosey goosey freelancey tendency often found in the modern evangelical church service do not have guardrails in place to restrain unholy worship, this is certainly reason some to be uncomfortable by what is going on around them.

This, provided that people are cognizant that when the corporate body gathers, they understand that are coming before a The Holy, and profane behavior is not acceptable. The idea that what feels right is ok so long as it is sincere is demonstrably [by biblical text] dangerous behavior. Charismatic pesona's with little or no training or, even worse no confirmed calling are dangerous to the body and themselves...apt to offend God more likely than not since without a primary dedication to understanding what is proper worship according to God they only have "what seems right to them.

It's time to consider what God requires, not what man feels is acceptable worship.

I can't find any reference to "playing" instruments in New Testament worship. There are many to "singing" though. I take this to mean that we shouldn't drag musical instruments, that glorify the player, into our efforts to glorify God.

History states that the Antichrist Pope introduced organs into the mix around 600 A.D. without Scriptural support.

I think that for the most part, pop music makes physical exercise more tolerable, as it does pagan worship

I would also add to the OP, prom songs to Jesus. Most men have no desire to sing romantic love songs to Jesus. "You are the air I breathe". "I'm running to your arms." etc. Enough of the love songs with the lyrics slightly modified to make the object God instead of your girlfriend.

Wow. I wish people would read more critically.

This thread got out of control. It went from interesting to ridiculous pretty quickly. This happens a lot, I think, because people fail to read all the posts. They read something that they think needs responding to – they jump all the way down to the bottom of the thread - and you end up here – In cookooville.

The original post was talking about the issues surrounding music in worship.

These issues were twofold:

1. Volume of the music (perhaps an organ that’s too loud or an amplifier that’s too loud [what about music that’s too soft?])

2. Musical solos that may be too long or deviate too much from the original music (It’s nice that we now have “original” music isn’t it?)

The author went on, without good reason in my opinion, to label worship that includes volume levels above what he feels are appropriate and solos that may be too creative or long as being “not worship”.

I took issue with that for clear reasons that I mentioned. Now, that said, there are obvious necessities of worship and glorifying God. Again, I mentioned that as well (This will be the third time).

Then you have “p” jump in with this holier-than-thou tone. He basically pits himself against himself, taking things out of context, accusing people of advocating man-centered worship when he had no reason for doing so.

Then Brad jumps in to agree with “p” without addressing anything in the original post either.

Brad writes things like:

Worship is done with a kind of unity, not just any unity...not seeking value in it for the worshipper

There are many biblical references where men of note did what felt right to them and suffered death for it.

This, provided that people are cognizant that when the corporate body gathers, they understand that are coming before a The Holy, and profane behavior is not acceptable (Profane!?!)

It's time to consider what God requires, not what man feels is acceptable worship

Unbelievable. Brad, what volume level is appropriate for you at your church 6 or 7? Are you sure that volume level is appropriate for the person sitting next to you? How do you feel about loud or powerful organ solos?

Of course, these are rhetorical questions, but I’m guessing we should probably refrain from being “profane” in church, huh Brad?

Hi KWM, I would want to preface my response with an expression of respect and value for your opinion. Over the years you've demonstrated carefully thought out, reasoned posts and I've appreciated your participation. That said, "me thinks you doth protest too much".

Of course I can see why you think I've not addressed the original post, but [I think], like "p", the very idea that the music can be separated from or dissected apart from the worship service is a problem. The things said concerning the "worship leader" and his behavior opened up the topic to consider whether this approach is even proper in the first place.

The mocking of my use of the term profane speaks volumns...do you believe that it is not possible to profane the worship service? Another telling thing to me is your rhetorical questions...

"Unbelievable. Brad, what volume level is appropriate for you at your church 6 or 7? Are you sure that volume level is appropriate for the person sitting next to you? How do you feel about loud or powerful organ solos?"

I have to ask: if these issues aren't completely structured and approved ahead of time-to be proper for the public worship of God, and that those who've been called to administer the word and sacrament are duly ordained and their calling proven so that I dont have to worry that I'm being lead to participate in profane worship, would I even have to consider these questions? And if I'm under those who responsibly perform their Eph.4 duties, does it really matter what I think at all?

Maybe we'll kindly agree to disagree, but there's one thing indisputable regarding the modern evangelical service, and that is.. way too much of it is indeed profane if we compare it to biblical precedence/doctrine.

As a note, R.C. Sproul says that the "greatest worship service in the history of the world was at the foot of Mt. Sinai" by Gods people. He was not pleased.

Brad,

You’re still not addressing the original post. Instead you’ve chosen to address generalities and attribute things to me that I never said. It’s a shame, really.

the very idea that the music can be separated from or dissected apart from the worship service is a problem

Statements like these are the problem. Who said that? No one is saying that music should be separated from worship. Music is a distinct part or aspect of worship. Saying they can’t be separated is useless for the purposes of this discussion. Is the manner music is addressed and conducted important in worship? Yes, of course it is.

The mocking of my use of the term profane speaks volumns...do you believe that it is not possible to profane the worship service?

Does it speak volumes about me, Brad? Did I say that it’s not possible to profane the worship service? No, of course I didn’t say that. Perhaps you wish I had? Why do you want to attribute these silly things to me when I never made such statements?

if these issues aren't completely structured and approved ahead of time-to be proper for the public worship of God, and that those who've been called to administer the word and sacrament are duly ordained and their calling proven so that I dont have to worry that I'm being lead to participate in profane worship, would I even have to consider these questions? And if I'm under those who responsibly perform their Eph.4 duties, does it really matter what I think at all?

This borders on comedic. You’re saying you don’t have to consider my questions because someone else has to consider them? Really? I ask questions about the proper volume of music and composition of organ solos and you defer to others. Yet, here you are, posting your opinions about proper worship – basically accusing others of not treating worship with the respect it deserves.

Maybe we'll kindly agree to disagree

The funny thing is you don’t know what you’re talking about. You have no idea what you disagree with me about. You've worked yourself up over something that never existed and you’ve attributed things to me that I never said. For what?

Brad B.

Thank you for the textbook example of "straw man" arguing that you have provided. You taught me something.

Goat Head 5

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