In an interview with Lenny Smith over here, I mentioned that I would post Lenny’s response to the question “What do you think of modern worship music?” Here is a brief description he sent along to the 2009 Festival of Faith and Music organizers about a workshop he’ll be doing entitled “Worshiping Worship and Self.” It challenged my attitude toward worship, so rather than just pulling out a few quotes, I wanted to put the whole thing up. Enjoy.
Somehow we have slipped away from worshiping God, in many of our worship services. We now often are worshiping worship and,thus, are worshiping ourselves.
The idea that God is an Audience of One (or Three, for that matter) exemplifies pretty well the problem. If God is the Audience, watching us as we sing, dance, shout, and celebrate before Him, then that puts God is a passive role, sitting on His throne, I suppose, responding to us and the intentions of our hearts and the activities that reflect those intentions. It looks o.k. at first glance, but upon further consideration, I find that it is exactly the opposite of the truth. God is not the audience, He is the Actor… WE are the audience. God is on stage and we are in the audience, listening and watching Him perform His works. He is always doing his stuff, day and night (“My father works and I work,” is what Jesus said). He causes the four seasons to come and go, the stars by the billions to shine, the sun and moon to turn, nations to rise and fall, babies to be conceived and be born, the rain to fall and clean the air, the birds to sing such lovely melodies, the young man to find his lady, the whales to find their way to the mating places, the geese to fly in V’s, the bear to hybernate, the dolphins to be able to dive so deep and hold their breath so long. HE is the DOER. Our hearts are not beating automatically….God is keeping them beating. Of course, HE is the BE-er (I AM), but we can not learn anything about His Being except by observing His Doings. HE is the one on stage! WE are the audience!
If we get to see His works and hear of His genius, power, and loveliness, we will rise to our feet like any audience and spontaneously applaud and shout our approval and appreciation. It will not be self-conscious and rehearsed, but spontaneous and real and authentic. We will be beside ourselves (or outside of ourselves) and in awe of what we are seeing and hearing. We won’t even be aware of ourselves, but pre-occupied with His works and His genius and His wonders.
Many people, driving home after church, talk about the worship service and evaluate it and the leader and pastor. An audience doesn’t go home after seeing a great play or movie or game and talk all about the way they applauded and shouted and how well or poorly the cheerleaders did! No! They talk about the teams, the actors, the ones on the stage!
We often are trying to worship and at the same time watching ourselves worship and evaluating our worship while we are doing it. We are seldom “taken away” by the object of our worship, because we have not been drawn away from looking at ourselves to looking at the Other. A young man, totally head-over-heels in love with a young lady, is hardly aware of himself. He only has eyes for her! He doesn’t even know or care that his mouth is open and that he is starring at her. He is just beside himself.
Solutions? Yes, there are some.
1. Song Selection: Songs to God about God. Not songs to God about us. Not songs to us about God. Not songs to us about us. AND not some of each! To turn a ship around one has to turn it hard.
2. Introductory prayers should be to God about God. The leader must set the direction for the minds of the people. In order to do that, the leader has to have his/her own mind on God and not on leading the people. He/she needs to address God and mentally stay on God and not be concerned if anyone else is having their mind on God. Leaders don’t lead, they just do it right… followers follow, if they want to.
I suppose I could write-out all my thoughts on this, but this should give you enough…
To go along with his thoughts on worship, I thought you’d enjoy a few of Lenny’s original worship songs:
Note: All MP3s will be removed after one week