Cardboard Worship

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Is your worship like cardboard: functional but bland and boring?

I visited a church recently and thought “this worship leader knows what he’s doing.” I unfortunately don’t get struck by that thought very often, even while visiting megachurches who think they are amazing.

They started out with a folk/country version of In the Sweet By and By complete with an accordion. When was the last time you heard an accordion used in contemporary worship? Never? Props for using an interesting instrument and for doing a hymn.

Then the worship flowed from popular praise song to song with no dead stops. The tunes dovetailed perfectly by key, theme and tempo. Scripture was woven in – read aloud and flashed on the screen (all while giving the congregation a few seconds to meditate on the meaning.)

The lighting was subtle and effective, yet not flashy and rock-concerty.

And after a stellar sermon the music team came out and led a closing song (of course, thematically recapping that stellar sermon.) I rarely if ever hear a closing song in any church and it’s a pet peeve of mine. I intensely dislike visiting a church, hearing the pastor chirp “see you next week!” and then having to endure 10 seconds of awkward silence as the soundman fumbles to start a worship CD for some background music while the congregation shuffles out. What a lame way to end a service.

All in all I can’t remember leaving church in recent memory with such a sense of spiritual fullness. The worship leader has studied at the Liberty University worship school, so no wonder he knows what he’s doing – Liberty has a great program.

Let’s contrast that service with the modern worship missteps I encounter in nearly every church I visit:

  • Jumbled worship flow made up of random songs I’ve never heard (and evidently the congregation doesn’t, either, since few are singing.) Use some creativity to craft a praise set that has meaning and purpose.
  • Clumsy stops between songs to change into unrelated keys. Dead space kills worship flow.
  • I love droning electric guitars as much as the next hipster, but do we really need them on every single song every single Sunday? Break up the monotony: try doing a song acapella… or an acoustic version… or a piano ballad… or use an accordion!
  • No Scripture, prayer or any other spiritual practice that would hint at the fact I’m attending a worship service and not visiting a dance club. We’re here to praise God, let’s use His Word in worship.
  • White text lyrics projected on screen without any color or background. One of the drabbest services I’ve been to in recent memory uses plain white lyrics projected on a plain white screen with no images or color. While worship backgrounds can be overdone, they can add depth when used correctly (think stained glass windows.)

God can certainly use bland and boring worship. However, He created us to be creative, so let’s exercise that gift to praise Him.

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I like to listen to Youtube videos/podcasts as I drive around and have wished I could find a good, current playlist of all the top worship songs.

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