Music-Dominated Worship


I love worship music. I love it so much that I have spent a lot of my life learning about it, listening to it, singing it, leading it.

However, I often wonder if our discussions about worship are focused way too much on music: on what is popular, what techniques we need to lead it, what technology we need to support it.

This worry is not style-driven. This is an equal-opportunity temptation for people who love both pipe organs and praise bands.

So I wonder what would happen if each of us would take the energy we devote to finding and rehearsing music and instead focus that energy on public Bible reading and public prayer.

More radically, I wonder what would happen if we would have a worship service without music at all. This “fast” from music may help us make sure that we aren’t worshiping music, but truly are worshiping God through music.

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How crazy would that be? Good challenge John.
I know that our church has been returning to some of the biblical readings and public prayer since I've come here. I've done some experimenting in the services with limited music. Our Maundy Thursday service will maybe only have two songs. But it is a very new concept to many folks.

I think we've created an environment where personal reflection and meditation on the word has so fallen by the wayside that it makes it hard for people to engage with a reading. It is evident that even long time attenders don't come to engage and participate in the service. They've been trained to stand, sing and listen. I do appreciate the move in modern worship to return to earlier worship practices and become more contemplative. It makes it hard for people to just "attend" and not participate. Personal reflection is part of being spiritually formed.

On another note I have found that while doing the contemporary worship well takes time, effort and necessary gadgets, the focus of much of it is to be real and honest with self in light of the grace of God. It seems the newer stuff, whether hymns (cf. Townhend and Getty, et al) or more alternative (cf Tomlin, Crowder, Hillsong, et al.) is riddled with intense passion to get serious with your relationship with God and participate.

With music having become such a powerful medium in our culture it certainly is hard to consider a service without it and without it being done well.

It is a conundrum.