I’m Coming Out Of The Closet…Worship Wise That Is!

bored-in-church1I decided today to “come out of the closet” so to speak.  No, its not what you are thinking.

But it is about my orientation.

My worship music orientation

It’s …well…

…I just don’t like contemporary worship that much!

This is a hard post to write

You know what its been like being a pastor in evangelical / charismatic circles for 25 years and not really liking worship music?

Of course its much easier coming out today than it was in years past. Try being someone of my worship music orientation in the early 1990’s.  Pastors could get fired if they didn’t believe 30 -45 minutes of praise and worship were needed in order to “enter in” and “prepare our hearts” to receive God’s Word.

And so pastors like me kept our orientation in the closet, lifted up holy hands, and sang Shout to the Lord with wide eyed abandonment.

But times are changing.  More and more leaders and pastors are coming out on their opinion of worship music and culture.

Still, things can be quite tough even in the 21st century for Christian ministers who admit to their true attitude towards modern worship music. Blue Lie Jazz author Donald Miller was the subject of a lot of rebuke when he penned a blog post explaining why he didn’t worship God by singing.

I’ve a confession. I don’t connect with God by singing to Him. Not at all.

I know I’m nearly alone in this but it’s true. I was finally able to admit this recently when I attended a church service that had, perhaps, the most talented worship team I’ve ever heard. I loved the music. But I loved it more for the music than the worship. As far as connecting with God goes, I wasn’t feeling much of anything.

Donald Miller- I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere.

The stream of rebuttal blogs to Miller’s proclamation (mostly from worship leaders) trying to explain the reason for Donald’s orientation sounded as convincing as a heterosexual man trying to explain to his gay friend why he should just like girls even if he doesn’t feel like it.  “Yes, its a sacrifice…but it’s what God wants!

What is Wrong with Me? 

If you feel a little irritated with the blog post because you really love worship and singing in church, take heart,  I didn’t write this post for you…

No…

I wrote this post for that person who wants to connect with God but struggles through worship time. The guy on Sunday morning who is told to stand to his feet (is there another way to stand?)  and wonders internally at what point a strategic bathroom run will help break up the monotony.

“Are you already to sing praises to the King?”  comes the call from the front.  “Yes!” you respond joining the congregation in an adrenaline rousing answer as the first, of many, songs kick in.  You are determined to offer up a “sacrifice of praise” and connect with God one way or another.

Three songs later the worship team hasn’t yet shifted from the faster “praise” to the slower more reflective “worship”; your mind starts to drift

“I wonder what I’ll have for lunch after the service?”

You quickly silence the intrusive thought knowing this is the time you are supposed to be “entering in.

So you concentrate really hard.  Clapping your hands to the music you belt out the next chorus with renewed gusto, only to find after a couple minutes that your mind begins to wander again.

Then glancing over to the next row you see the worship lady .

charismatic-worship

You know who I’m talking about. Every church has the worship lady.  Her eyes are closed and her body sways in time to the music. She probably has a Star of David adorned worship prop she got on her most recent trip to the Holy Land. With hands high and lifted up she points to heaven and declares “Hallelujah!”  She then does a rapid fire motion with her hands signifying the move of the Holy Spirit in her inner being at that moment.

“Why can’t I connect to God like that?” you think to yourself.  What is wrong with me?

It Gets Better

First of all, there is nothing wrong with you!  If it helps, know I was right there with you.

For years I wondered why:

* I rarely felt moved in a worship service yet could actually start crying after reading a portion of scripture. (John 17  always does it for me)

* I didn’t feel particularly stirred singing “Majesty” on a Sunday morning but would literally feel God’s presence talking about him in a pub on Saturday night.

* Hillsong, Vineyard, and other “brand” worship singers left me cold inside but singer- songwriters like Rich Mullins, Michael Gungor, and even U2 could convict my spirit, peel back the layers of my heart, and lay them bare before the Lord.

Some people LOVE Sunday morning style worship and that’s great! It’s how they’re wired!

But God made us as unique individuals and we don’t all have to like the same thing.

Seek God and discover the way you relate to Him.

And don’t worry…

…it gets better!

7 comments

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  • I like all kinds of music and I do, in fact, worship through music.. But I connect to the Almighty much more through a performance of a symphony orchestra than through so-called “praise and worship.” The most important point you make is that we are all wired differently — “wonderfully made” — and worship is not contrived.

    • Steve

      Reply

      As do I Bob. I worship through music often from different generes. Sometimes I am even blessed by a modern contemporary worship service or album. Its just not my primary way of connecting with God. I wanted to give encouragement to others, perhaps less seasoned in the faith, who also don’t connect this way. There is a strong message in the church thats says this is the way to connect (why else would we do it every service) and a lot of people feel guilty not experiencing the same encounter with God that others feel.

      How is your baseball season shaping up? My Tigers and Rockies are doing OK

  • Paul

    Reply

    As a so-called ‘worship leader’ I could not agree more. Although I do find I can connect with god through singing it has changed much over the years. But, I likewise find that there are others ways in which I find it far easier and significant to connect with God. The two big ones for me are 1) being in nature and, 2) talking about God with others, whether it’s a pub or a pew.

    • Steve

      Reply

      Thanks Paul! Those are the 2 ways I best connect to God as well. Good to hear from you. Hope you are well

  • Steve the Astros are where they usually are, in the cellar, but are on a win streak right now. I still grieve over their defection to the AL. Braves are on top but have struggled a bit lately, having just been swept 4 by Boston. My sons and I are doing a 3-game, 3-ballpark barnstorming trip July 4 weekend — Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Really looking forward to that.

    • Steve

      Reply

      Thanks for sharing that Sherry! Very insightful!

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