Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Are we Worshiping right?

So, now we've discussed the church building, ceremonies, the sermon and the pastor. So what about the music part of the worship? Surely that's Biblical, isn't it?

Choirs were started during Constantine's reign and were borrowed from Roman Custom which used music to celebrate imperial ceremonies.  Soon because the clergy believed that they could curb the spread of heresy by allowing only the choir to sing, the congregation was forbidden to join in, and in AD 367, congregational singing was altogether banned. Only trained choirs could sing in church
Papal choirs began in the 5th century and Gregory the Great reorganized the Schola Cantorum (school of singing) in Rome which trained Christian choirs throughout the Roman empire.  These trained performers reflected the Greek culture mindset which was built around the audience-performer dynamic.

But then came the Reformation. John Huss (1372-1415) was among the first to bring singing back to the people in church, although the choir remained in order to direct the congregation. Not until the middle ages do we see musical instruments accompanying the singing. Many church fathers believed musical instruments were associated with immorality and idolatry.   However the organ was first used in churches in the 6th century.  As choirs grew they came to be seated up on chancel (clergy platform), and its members wore fancy ecclesiastical robes.

Today in modern Protestant churches, we have the worship team, which is normally a band with singers, much like one would see at a concert. Their job is to stir up the people into worship with lively hand-clapping, hand-raising tunes, followed by more deep and calm, worshipful music. This usually lasts for 20 minutes or so when the band leaves the stage, the offering plate is passed, announcements read, and the sermon is given. In some churches the band returns at the end for the grand finale.  The origin of the worship team  came from the founding of Calvary Chapel in 1965 by Chuck Smith, who started a ministry for hippies and surfers and welcomed them with their instruments into the service.

I don't know about you, but I really enjoy the worship part of church!. The music moves me and gets me thinking about God and His goodness. It's a fun time. So what's the problem? The problem is that special stage musicians leading worship is not found anywhere in the New Testament. Instead we see phrases from Paul like "Every one of you hath a psalm" 1 Corinthians 14:26 and "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" Ephesians 5:19  In other words, everyone has the privilege of singing their praises to God, not just a select few who are following a pre-determined schedule and list of songs. Nor should we allow only those few to tell us what and when to sing!

I have seen this played out personally in a small group I used to belong to. We were all sharing about what the Lord had done in our lives during the week and based on what most of us said, this woman broke out into a worship song, giving praise to God. Soon, all of us were singing and worshiping. This is the kind of Spirit-led, Christ-centered worship God is looking for.


  1. Thanks, MaryLu. Your posts are always thought-provoking! A great reminder to us to strive to "do" church right!

  2. This seems odd to me: "Today in modern Protestant churches, we have the worship team" Many Protestant churches don't have worship teams. I belong to a very modern congregation. We have an orchestra, Jazz Sunday with a jass group, bells, quartets, small groups, as well as a choir but no worship team. Perhaps, "Today MANY . . ." would be a better description.

  3. Ahhh .. this is one that's very close to my heart. We haven't been part of an organized traditional church for a couple of years now, due to several reasons, but the one thing I miss the most is the music worship. My heart longs for it - a spirit longing is the best way I can describe it; a thirst or a hungering for it. Thankfully the traditional church isn't the only place for that to happen - I pop in a CD and I can be brought to that place of praising and worshipping in the van, or on the treadmill (although, you've got to be careful - I had Chris Tomlin singing into my ears during a treadmill workout and was so moved, so brought into closeness with God, that my hands were raised, eyes were closed, my mouth was singing, and I tripped. No harm done though!)
    Point is though, we were created to worship; we were created to praise; repeatedly in the Bible are we encouraged to sing, play instruments; sing old and new songs (thus the hymns, and new songs of worship whether it be from Chris Tomlin or Hillsong United, or spontaneous songs like the woman you mentioned in the small group, MaryLu - I love that!) We should have the freedom to do music worship in any form provided it comes from a heart of praise. So many believers put limits during music worship in a service - don't repeat the verses; only sing 3 songs before the message, and 1 after; no drums and guitars; only hymns; no hymns ... the list goes on. Who are we to call the shots here? God's word is pretty clear on it I think. Like you said, MaryLu, we need that Spirit-led, Christ-centered worship. The spontaneous or Spriit led singing comes from a heart of true worship - no need for a plan, an order of songs and how many times to sing it. Just pure Spirit led, heart giving, worship.

    Sorry for the long post ... :)

  4. Tues July 10th,
    "Morning, MaryLu."
    Once again, "Amen and Amen" to all that you shared today. I agree with what you wrote. The worship time with music should/could be more spontaneous, and Scriptural ... but alas, we 'normally' are "directed" by today's worship-teams, and, we tend to put God "into a box" ... limiting Him to what can and can't happen during the services.
    And P.S. to Caroline -- oh, please ... do not worry about "the long post" ... it makes 'me' feel so much better ... as my posts are generally lengthy too !!! Good work !!! And yes, I liked what you shared.
    MaryLu ... remember I told you that I bought the 'Trilogy' of the Charles Towne Belles as a gift (for my teacher friend who just retired) ... well she has just finished reading 'The Red Siren' ... and had to phone me, to tell me how much she enjoyed/loved the story ... and can't wait to get right back into the series 'The Blue Enchantress'. Just thought you would want to know. She is thrilled that there are "three" books/stories in one !!!
    Have a good day everyone.
    Take care, and, God Bless,
    In Him, Brenda Hurley

  5. Jane, I certainly didn't mean to lump all churches together.. please forgive me. I realize churches are all so different.. But the main purpose of my post was to put forth the idea of spontaneous spirit-led worship, rather than programmed worship or entertainment.

    Caroline, I totally agree with today's worship music.. especially since we have such great music and so easily accessed. LOVED your treadmill story!! I've done similar things in my car while driving!! We were indeed created to worship God and I feel closest to Him when I'm praising Him in song. Often times at church after a few songs you can really feel the Spirit of God filling the room and everyone praising Him.. it's so wonderful. And then they stop to take an offering or give announcements.. uggg.. Breaks my heart. Why not let the Spirit take us where He wants us to go?

  6. Brenda.. exactly.. we tend to put God in a box, don't we? I wonder what would happen if we let Him loose??
    And I'm so glad your friend loved The Red Siren!!! Thank you for sharing my books with her.
    Have a great day!

  7. I'm with Caroline - I always feel more genuine singing along with a Christian CD.

    One thing that has bothered me tremendously about worship services is that, far too many times, I have seen the congregation applaud the *worship team*. They certainly deserve recognition for their work, but the worship service is a time to glorify God, not the band! It's so sad...

  8. A couple of points I would like to add to the discussion here:

    - The early church borrowed music from the Old Testament, where they definitely did have congregational participation. In David's and Solomon's time there was a choir associated with the temple, though their main purpose was to lead not replace the people.

    - I love contemporary music and am not really critical of the existence of a worship team. However, now many in the congregation don't know the music and don't sing along. I think that's a tragedy. Somehow in our rage to always introduce new songs, we never really allow people to learn them well before we're off on the next bandwagon. There may be something to be said for the old fashioned hymnsings or "requests" where people could sing their favorites and enjoy old familiar tunes.

    In our church we sometimes have just a Praise Night where different families or groups prepare something and share it. Everyone who wants to can take part whether they possess amazing talent or not. It's far from perfect but people have fun!

  9. Interesting post, MaryLu! I love worship at our church, but I love small group worship, too. Thanks for the thought provoking post. I enjoyed my visit to your place.

  10. Sapphire, I agree with you about the applause. I believe some people are directing it toward God.. but it doesn't seem that way, does it?

    Diane, I've heard of Praise Nights.. I think they are a great idea as long as we allow the Spirit to lead the worship... I think that's the main problem with contemporary worship. .we need it to be God-directed, not man-directed. I, too, love the new worship songs! And I adore some of the old hymns as well.. :-)

    Shellie, thanks for dropping in.. please come back and visit us soon!

  11. I am sort of an oddball when it comes to music and worship. I am not a fan of CCM at all. I just find so much of it lacking when you compare it to the great hymns of yesteryear! Hymns are just so packed with theology and praise, and I feel like half the time, you wouldn’t even know the musician was singing about Christ. And I don’t like how a lot of modern churches try use music to get a certain reaction from the people attending. They seem to go in a pattern where they start with the upbeat songs to get people excited and off their feet, then go into the more mellow stuff to prepare us for prayer or the offering. It is too much like manipulation to me. I especially dislike when they do that thing where they have an “important message” and someone is back on keyboard and or guitar with soft music playing. I think that God is able to work in people, without needing the music get people “in the mood”. LOL, I told you, I tend to be very different when it comes to my views on music!

    I also want to say that, while I dislike CCM, I don’t care if other people like it and listen to it. I just prefer the psalms and hymns. I just didn’t want it to come off as if I think it is wrong for other people to like it!

  12. Emma, you're not an odd ball. I totally agree with what you said.. I've been in some churches where they use music and other forms of entertainment to invoke an emotional response in the crowd.. not something people need if the Spirit of God is present. :-)

  13. I agree with Emma. I bet in the early churches, they didn't shake the tamborine or kick the ground to make a drum or anything while the apostles spoke. I love music, but God's word doesn't need help being heard. In my church, the worship team are treated (and they act) like celebrities, which doesn't exactly envoke a worhipful spirit most of the time. I mean, they are really great singers. But its always the same people, and usually, always the same kind of songs.others have noticed this too. Now, I don't have anything against the singers, but at the cross, the ground is level. Worship leaders shouldn't be treated as if they have a platform.

  14. Eszter, I completely agree.. in some churches the worship leaders are almost idolized. What a shame. It's great they are using their gifts to glorify God but we all have gifts to use.. it's just that most churches don't allow us to use them in the church service. :-(

  15. Hymns ... ?
    Modern worship ... ?
    Worship teams ... ?
    Choirs ... ?
    At 'church' ... ?
    Alone at home ... ?
    I believe these questions fall by the wayside if we get to heart of it, and understand the PURPOSE of worship ...
    - Scott

  16. Indeed Scott... isn't it to just glorify God? To show our love for Him and our commitment to Him? It doesn't take music or any location to do that.. just an attitude of the heart.