Saturday, November 22, 2008

Worship Experiences

* Warning - This post is a rant*

It's been bugging me. A lot. I mean I finished reading the book ages ago and I'm still bugged and irritated. It's got under my skin and to mix my metaphors I now need to get it off my chest. I mean honestly.

Craig Groeschel is the pastor of megachurch, - it's all very cool in a church 2.0 kind of way. They have 12 locations who all via satellite share in the same worship and listen to the same sermon. On their website they tell you when the next 'experience' is. Anyway they want to give people great worship experiences. Oh Really.

I don't know if anyone has told this but there's only one person who is supposed to experience really great worship and that's God. Because don't forget people, it's WORSHIP. Adoration, devotion, the passionate heartfelt expressing of love to God. It's not about me, it's not whether I enjoy it or not, it's not even about the standard of the music or the quality of the singing. You can have all that but if it's not about God then He won't be satisfied and neither will we.

I don't get to experience great worship but I do get the chance to do something that God can't do - Worship. There isn't anyone for God to worship because God is the only deserving recipient of worship in the universe. So God can only receive worship, I on the other hand have the awesome privilege of offering worship. Sometimes however, my worship isn't great. Unconfessed sin can stop my worship being great, laziness, distractions, selfishness, tiredness - they can all make my offering half hearted and mediocre.

The worship leaders job is not to entertain me and not to give me a great experience but to draw me gently or with force into the realisation that at this moment God wants my worship and my eyes need to be drawn to Him, my life needs to be offered, my hands need to be lifted and my knees need to sink to the ground, my heart needs to be surrendered. The worship leader needs to call me to stir myself from my sinful stupor and to give God great worship.

So God should experience great worship and I should participate in giving great worship, fortunately God is gracious and as we meet him, He meets us. As I exalt him, my heart is lifted, my spirit renewed, my vision cleared, my soul restored and if that happens I'll leave feeling encouraged, inspired, stirred, cleansed - I'll 'feel' like whata great time.

If that's what LifeChurch mean by worship experiences, brilliant I'm all for it. If they mean a professional band, some great drama and cool lighting and sound. I'll not trade up for that. Better music does not equal better worship. Don't get me wrong, being led off tune is no joy, but let's not get those two things mixed up.

Rant over. I feel better now.


dave bish on 22 November 2008 at 19:33 said...


Mark Heath on 22 November 2008 at 21:54 said...

Spot on Phil. This needs to be said. I never liked the "Worship Experience" label that some of the NFI recordings were made under for the same reason. I think we live in a culture that very literally worships "experience" which is why we are tempted to make it the measure of our worship in the church.

Phil on 23 November 2008 at 18:23 said...

Experience is a funny thing. Might post on that a bit more, but we live in a 'make me feel something' culture. I need to go to cool places, do cool things and whatever. I imagine Paul's list of 99 things to do before you die would have been quite different.

ianjmatt on 24 November 2008 at 09:22 said...

I THINK I agree with you - worship is about God not our experience.

However - part of worship is to experience God and to invite people to come and experience God is scriptural - "taste and see that the Lord is God". However, this isn't about cool music lighting etc - it is about the presence of God.

Even with saying that, good art is part of worship, and we should strive to give God our creative best in worship. A church that doesn't care about the musical quality of the worship is ignoring scriptures that exhort people to "play skillfully". If the aim is about the "make me feel something" culture, then it is right to critique. If it is about wanting to something that offers the best we have to God, or something that expects God to be present in the praises of his people, then that is okay. I'm not sure from the book (although it did irritate me as well!) which of these means.

Tim Simmonds on 24 November 2008 at 10:45 said...


If we are going to use music in our corporate worship times then it needs to be good.

If we insist on "a band" then they need to be tight, tuneful, organised and tasteful/appropriate otherwise they become a distraction.

So why not get the band to be worshipful by being inovative and imaginative? Does the band/presentation need to be bland so as not to "distract" us from worship?

Phil on 24 November 2008 at 12:43 said...

I don't think bands should be bad or bland but it's not about the band. I guess I'm wondering what is the 'experience' that we're offering? Can I guarantee that a guest will 'experience' the presence of God? If so, why, because the band is good or because I'm confident that the people present will be offering God great worship (humble, wholehearted, honest etc..)? I wasn't sure from which it was.

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