I recently had a good talk with a close friend of mine about worship. This was brought up due to some of the events of the previous day and our reactions to them. Specifically, there had been a worship conference, the evening of which was ended by several nationally known “worship artists” (is that a legitimate term?) leading music. My friend Brent, as well as many other friends of mine I’m sure, attended this event. At the same time, just a couple of blocks away, I was at an alternative concert of some nationally known (although significantly less popular) Christian artists.
Brent expressed some of his reservations and concerns about what he witnessed. What we came up with is this: it is better to say that you are doing a concert and then have some (or even all) of the music be praise oriented, than to say that you are just leading worship when really it is more of a concert. (Note: I am not implying anything about the artists who played that evening, I mention it only because of it’s place in bringing up this conversation.) As Brent pointed out, once you say that you are leading worship, your responsibility is much increased. Also, he pointed out how worship in this context can feel forced rather than letting it be a true response to God through music.
Another point that was brought up—and one of the real dangers I think—is that it is almost too convenient, too popular these days to attach a “worship” label to an idea, especially music. Obviously, an appropriate response for we who are being saved is definitely to worship. And I do believe that many who are leading worship have sincere desires. However, in our culture, even pure desires can be misdirected. I believe that one of the real dangers here is pride. To use the example of the evening previously mentioned, I can imagine that some people would believe that the more worthwhile, the more “christian”, the more holy of the two events was the the one which was specifically promoted as being worship. Yet, “Lay Your hands now on me, Let Your love cover me, All my days are with Thee, Pour Your love over me.” (Elaste, The Violet Burning), and “Not palaces of gold, or castles by the sea, could ever separate me from Your love…there is nowhere else I’d rather be.” (There is Nowhere Else, The Violet Burning) were some of the lyrics from the concert I attended, and I for one can say that I was moved to draw closer to God.