There is tension in finding the right worship style. This doesn’t mean that things are bad, simply that there is tension. Tension in many circumstances is healthy in right amount. As our worship style continues to change to meet the needs of where we are, we will continue to struggle to find the perfect balance of too distracting for some, too boring for others.
For our family at Grace there are three important concepts in living with this tension that will always exist:
First, we all need to remember the three circle thinking that has helped us to grow without killing each other. Essentials, convictions and preferences. Worshipping God is essential, the style being more geared towards a believer or a seeker may be a conviction, but the style used for projection or music is only a preference. We know that we can not all agree on preferences, so lets agree to disagree. Let’s also agree that someone has to set the style and it may not be me. We have gone through many worship style changes in the past: when we moved from spa lady to 3 cerone, when we added the video cafe at 3 Cerone, when we moved to 20 Delatour and added the IMAG screens because the sanctuary was too big for people in the back to see the stage, when we moved off of PowerPoint and added motion backgrounds and now when we are expanding to a multi campus model. Changing “worship” elements is not new for us, it is and will continue to be a part of who we are. We will continue to grow and continue to find better ways to help people take their next step in following Christ.
Second, lets remember the definition of worship in the broader sense and the purpose of the weekend service at Grace. Worship is much more than the praise we present corporately on the weekend when we sing together. Worship is a lifestyle of dying to self and following Christ. Our purpose for the weekend worship service is to share God’s story and his purpose for mankind – such that it helps people take their next step in following Christ. Worship is as much about hearing from God as it is about praising him. All of the music on the weekend, all of the dramas, all of the videos, all of the creative arts are intended to prepare our hearts to hear what God is saying to us so we can act on that all week long, not just praise him on the weekend. Yes, we will praise God and we focus on him together and this brings Glory to God, but its not the sole intent of worship; we don’t just need to talk at God, we need to hear from Him and act on what we hear. This is the purpose of the weekend worship service and the intent of worshiping God.
Third, we all need a regular routine of praise. You can’t expect no distractions in a crowd of thousands; it’s unrealistic. You inevitably will have some distractions on the weekend. God may call you to reach out to another person and help feed them, instead of being fed. You simply may not like the music or style on the weekend. There may even be problem we run into that are inherently distracting. This is a real problem if the 30 minutes of music on the weekend is your entire praise for the week. For this reason, we all need to incorporate a regular routine of undistracted time praising God. If you are so inclined, and you have a definite impression of what “worship” (praise) should look like, lead your small group in praise and teach them what you believe. The small group is a great place to experience corporate worship in an undistracted environment. If not, just plan some time alone with your maker each day and praise him with all your heart, this way if we mess up the weekend you don’t feel like you haven’t praised God.
Watch your step when you enter God’s house. Enter to learn. That’s far better than mindlessly offering a sacrifice, Doing more harm than good. Don’t shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think. Don’t be too quick to tell God what you think he wants to hear. God’s in charge, not you—the less you speak, the better. – Ecclesiastes 5:1-2, The Message