I ran across an article on Facebook from a website known as http://www.churchleaders.com, titled Top 10 Things I Wish Worship Pastors Would Stop Saying, link to article here.
Some might erroneously assume an article from a site called CHURCHLEADERS would have valid content. Unfortunately, what you see is not always what you get. I must admit on the forefront, I am biased. I cringe every time I see something that opts to condemn or instill negative thoughts. Rarely, do editorials such as this edify the church or Christ. I usually fear it’s someone trying to instill their opinions on “what’s wrong with the church.” Their musings tend to make you stop and think, but when compared to God and His Word, lack foundation and substance. (In fact, the author does not reference Scripture at any point in his article.)
In this post, I’ll share my thoughts as a critique of the article. Yes, it’s an opinion… But I hope this challenges you to dig deeper into the Word and let God shape your thoughts, not an editorial (his or mine).
To use his words – here are 10 things he wishes worship leaders would stop saying:
10. Are we ready to have fun this morning
- Although this isn’t what I hear regularly coming from the church stage, it wouldn’t be inappropriate. After all, doesn’t God have emotions… doesn’t He like to have a good time and enjoy fellowship, praise, and worship. And when you enjoy something, why not have fun in the process… if we can’t, then where is our joy!
- Ecclesiastes 5 hits the nail on the head. (vv.18-20) “…It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life – this is indeed a gift from God. God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past.” (and it’s repeated in chapters 2, 3, and 8)
- Proverbs 15:13 “A glad heart makes a happy face…”
- Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine…”
- Psalm 149:3 “Praise His name with dancing, accompanied by tambourine and harp.”
- Nehemiah 8:10 “…”Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”
9. How’s everybody feeling?
- Granted some of us are not morning people… so that question can be mistaken. But the truth is, if the church truly is the body of Christ – then we should all “feel” welcomed and loved when we come together. Regardless of how my morning is going or how much (sometimes) I’d rather be sleeping late… I never regret coming together with my brothers and sisters as the church. Does the author assume this question is disingenuous? If so, then there is a deeply rooted problem that needs to be addressed in his/her own church. But when it is asked by our worship pastor, it is because he genuinely cares about you… and he wants you to know it… he wants you to feel it!
- Matthew 11:28 where Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
- John 10:10 where Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (ESV)
- 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
8. You can do better than that!
- The author calls this “nagging” and “shaming” but I call it challenging one another, encouraging one another, and pushing to move past the fear, timidness, and yes at some time laziness that we all fall victim to from time to time. The bottom line is we need each other for encouragement, support, and accountability.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of thosew ho are weak. Be patient with everyone.”
- 2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.”
- Hebrews 10:24-25 “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another to acts of love and good works.”
7. I can’t hear you!
6. [Introducing a hymn] Here’s an oldie we dusted off.
- Well… Amazing Grace, arguably one of the most widely circulated and best known hymns of our day was most likely written around 1772 and published in 1779. We call songs from the 50’s and 60’s oldies but goodies… I tend to believe a song written in the 1700’s is the ultimate oldie but goody! One word comes to mind with this dudes argument… really??!??
5. “Rockin’ worship”
- I’ll refer to the passage above from Psalms talking about rockin’ worship full of dancing, tambourines, and harps! I don’t know if you’ve thought about it before, but tambourines and harps usually don’t go together. I picture a bride coming down the isle to a beautiful harp, and then granny brings down the house with her tambourine! Okay, that’s a stretch, but you get the picture. The music may not be my style, but I bet some good “Old Testament” pickin’ and grinnin’ praise and worship may not be this author’s cup of tea either. The bottom line is simple – the methods may change or be different, but the motive is what counts (it’s a matter of heart).
- On another note, isn’t it okay to give a descriptor that illustrates the talent God has given His people (whether musician or vocalist). Sometimes we lose focus and lose sight of what it means to live in freedom from the bondage of Satan. So much so, that we tend to live in bondage to the church, instead of experiencing the freedom we have to live with a joy we’ve never ever had before!
4. “Lord, we invite you to be here.”
- Yeah, I would never want to say that… why do we want Him “in the house” during praise and worship! The author argues it a bit differently, He’s already there… it belongs to Him, so why invite Him… I think of going to my aunt’s house and instead of her cooking dinner for me, I want to do something to show her how much I love her, so I cook dinner for her. Once dinner is ready and on the table, I invite her to come to the table. I could just sit down and start eating without her. I mean, she’s there, it’s her house… she could come anytime she gets ready to. But I want this to be all about her, so I invite her to the table. That’s not a parallel illustration, but I hope you get the point. Are we so self-absorbed that we think God doesn’t want to be loved… wanted… invited… Not because He’s in our face. Not because it’s His house. We do it out of an intentional unconditional love for Him. So I’ll keep on inviting God to be with us because He’s the main attraction. He’s the center of our praise and worship. It’s all about Him!
- Jeremiah 29:13 “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”
- Hebrews 11:6 “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”
3. God showed up.
- The author argues it gives a superficial emotional response to worship, instead of a deep seated heartfelt commitment that is required to follow Jesus. He says it makes people feel as if God must be absent when they don’t feel good. I argue, God is with us every single time His people come together, I don’t doubt that. But there are times when His Spirit absolutely fills the room and when that happens, I’ve never had anyone come to me and say, “I just didn’t feel it today.” It’s all based on a relationship – our relationship with God. And like any other relationship, the relationship can be solid as a rock, but there are times we aren’t as connected as other times. I think of a son and his mother. The relationship is unquestionable. He is the son, and she is the mother, nothing they can do will ever change that fact. But there are times the mother is ticked off at her son, or times her son is ticked off at his mother. They can be at opposite ends of the house, but they’re in the same house. But there are other times when the two are close together, sitting in the same chair even, embracing one another. If anyone believes our relationship with God is any different, then I’ve completely misread God’s Word.
- Psalm 13 says such things as “O Lord, how long will you forget me?” – “How long will you look the other way?” – “Turn and answer me, O Lord my God.”
- 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 – granted this was old covenant theology, but I love the imagery, “The trumpeters and singers performed together in unison to praise and give thanks to the lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals, and other instruments, they raised their voices and praise the Lord with these words: ‘He is good! His faithful love endures forever!’ At that moment a thick cloud filled the Temple of the Lord. The priests could not continue their service because of the cloud, for the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple of God.” His Spirit is within anyone and everyone who has been saved, yet at times through praise and worship we are brought to a place where we remove any barriers to our fellowship/communion with Him. When that happens and a large number of us respond, when fellowship/communion has been restored, the glory of His presence fills the place!
2. Let’s give God a hand
- The author feels this is soliciting applause. Bingo! Websters defines applause as “a show of approval or appreciation… in which people strike their hands together over and over.” Approval and appreciation in the body of Christ should always begin at the top, with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
- Psalm 98:8 “Let the rivers clap their hands in glee! Let the hills sing out their songs of joy” to praise God…
- Psalm 47:1 “Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise!”
1. Turn to your neighbor and ______________.
- Fellowship is Biblical and it is an outward expression of the love we have for one another (saved and unsaved alike, church member and non-church member alike, sinner or saint). One phrase is repeated over and over in Scripture that teaches us one powerful way we can demonstrate this unconditional love, by greeting each other in Christian love. Can you imagine the way Jesus will greet you when you meet Him face to face? That tells me, if I truly want to be His hands/feet/ambassador, then I should do what He would do… not just talk the talk, but walk the walk!
- Romans 16:16 “Greet each other in Christian love…”
- 1 Corinthians 16:20 “…Greet each other with Christian love.”
- 2 Corinthians 13:12 “Greet each other with Christian love.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:26 “Greet all the brothers and sisters with Christian love.”
- 1 Peter 5:14 “Greet each other with Christian love…”
- 3 John 14:15 “Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.” (ESV)
- Hebrews 13:24 “Greet all your leaders and all the saints…”
- Romans 12:13 “…Always be eager to practice hospitality.”
- John 13:35 “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
I may not have hit every nail on the head so-to-speak, but I’ve tried to give you a contrasting view to counterbalance the opinions in the article. Personally, I believe if we take the stand of edifying one another, not criticizing and condemning one another, more people would see Jesus in (and through) us. I’m not angry with the referenced editorial, but I am disappointed, just as I am with every “church-help” article that focusing on the negative and are quick to throw stones at what they feel is being done wrong. It begs the question – Is being different wrong? The litmus test must be – who or what is the focus of your actions. If it honors and glorifies God while ushering people into His presence, then it is not wrong (even if it is different).
My challenge to you is simple. Don’t make brash decisions about things you read just because the author is a good salesperson. Look at both sides, study God’s Word, and come to your own conclusion (while pleading for guiding discernment from the Holy Spirit). Instead of criticizing or questioning, choose to edify, encourage, and support ministry leaders. Some things in life are simply a matter of taste, but I found out a long time ago that something I strongly dislike (such as liver… I don’t eat organs), other people love (my wife loves liver, ugh), but that doesn’t make it a bad thing.
So my unsolicited advice for the author of “Top 10 Things I Wish Worship Pastors Would Stop Saying” is simple – stop wishing!