Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Worship, corporate--part 1: singing

I like to sing. Really, I do. I make fun of my voice and my ability but I am not as bad as I make myself out to be. I will sing in my office and in my car and, occasionally, in the shower but the songs are only about one verse now since Atlanta is in a drought and showers are shorter.

One of my favorite places to sing is with a group of people during times of corporate worship.
One of my least favorite places to sing is with a group of people during times of corporate worship.

Let me explain......

Corporate singing in church is a direct fulfillment of Jesus' high priestly prayer in John 17. Really! Look at how He prays--His main desire is that His followers would be united. At NO OTHER TIME during a worship service is the congregation doing the same thing at the same time.

Sermons? You have got to be kidding me. People's minds run the gamut from: "why is the pastor wearing that?" to, "I hope we get out on time today," to, "I hope my team wins today," or, "I can't believe my team played so poorly yesterday," to...............................well, you get the point.

Now that I am sitting in the pew, I can verify this from firsthand experience. My pastor does a good job with what he shares but my mind wanders a million times a minute.

Offering? No way. Scripture readings? Not happening. Even responsive readings have the frustration of knowing when to pause and when not to pause whether there is a comma or not.

When a congregation of people is singing the same song at the same time [a bit awkward to sing a different song, I guess] there is a unity unlike any other time within a church.

Part of my contention for why music is such an issue in churches today is because the enemy does not like either the notion that we are united while we are giving praise to our heavenly Father.

THUS--the least favorite side of corporate worship for me.

I don't necessarily mind "7/11" songs [7 words sung over and over 11 times] as long as they aren't sung 711 times. I have been in services where the intent seemed to be wearing out the congregation with one song so they wouldn't have the energy to complain about anything else.

My concerns with corporate worship rest mostly on those who lead and a bit with those who follow. I have been to HUGE conferences with thousands of people and great worship teams that choose songs to sing that may be popular in Kalamazoo or Kissimmee or Kankakee but are unknown to the rest of Evangelical Christianity. There are lists of the most popular songs sung throughout the nation--why lead with songs that nobody knows???

Another concern is with CORPORATE WORSHIP LEADERS who think they are soloists. If someone is leading the congregation then they should LEAD the congregation in a way that is consistent and "doable." When a worship leader sings a verse straight through one time but then pauses on a word the next time--the congregation keeps singing, feeling slightly embarrassed along the way. If done consistently, the congregation stops singing or, loses the fervor it might have had to sing altogether.

My concerns with the congregation are two-fold [really, I have more but I will limit myself to two]:
Why do people talk during times of corporate worship? Talk about distracting. Philippians 2:14 talks about doing all things without grumbling or complaining but I find myself doing a bit of grumbling and complaining while singing praises to the Lord and hearing the buzz of a conversation behind me.
Why do people attend churches with a style of corporate worship they don't like and then stay but grumble and complain about the music? The question pretty much summarizes the frustration.

Corporate worship. One of those: best of times and worst of times.
One of those: good news and bad news things.
One of those: expect the worst but hope for the best times.
One of those: can't live with it and can't shoot the worship leader..........

Honestly, though--with the frustrations experienced, there is nothing better than voices raised together in praise and harmony and singing to the Lord.

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