Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Examining Worship: part II: Is it helpful?

In my post, Lecherous Worship, I laid out two extremes of lyric writing that prevent music from being helpful in corporate worship; over-simplification and over-complication.

1. Over-simplification: These are songs that have helped create the label of "7-11" worship that is applied to contemporary worship - "sing the same 7 words 11 times." The most egregious example is the song "Let It Rain." Here are the lyrics in their entirety:

Let it Rain
Let it Rain
Open the floodgates of Heaven

That's the whole song. Sing these 11 words for 3 to 5 minutes. How, I ask, does this help anyone? Is it asking God to pour out blessings on us? Is it asking for the Holy Spirit to come in an abundant way? Overly-simple songs can easily create confusion and open the door for errant theology and intentional truth twisting.

2. Over-complication: Have you ever sang a song and found yourself asking "what did that even mean?" A common temptation for songwriters is to insert Biblical language into a song because it sounds nice, with no regard to the original context. So why is right now the days of Elijah, where the word of the Lord is being declared. I don't see the dry bones becoming as flesh, or David rebuilding the Temple. What is a temple of praise?

Writing poetic lyrics is like free jazz. It is easy to sound poetic, and hard to tell what is deeply imaginative and what is simply wordy. Congregational worship is not only for the high-minded or the literary, but for all who love Christ. We need to employ words that evoke powerful imagery and roll off the tongue, but also speak clearly. Good poetic language reminds us of the beauty of God, bad poetic fakery draws attention to the cleverness of the author and disengages the individual from worship.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Examining Worship: part I - Is It Biblical?

"Would you believe me if I said 'all of the dreams in your heart can come true today?'
Would you believe me if I said 'life can be all that you want it to be today?'"

These lyrics were written by a worship leader for one of the biggest and most influential churches in the world. This song was recorded in front of thousands and traveled halfway around the world and found its way into my CD collection. This is the age we live in, where ideas can travel around the world at the speed of light. With so much information, misinformation, fact, and opinion flying all over the world, the need for discernment is at a premium these days.

Any Bible-literate Christian should read the lyrics above with alarms going off in their heads. Jesus never promises a life of comfort and riches. Just the opposite. That is where the danger is. A song like this will leave the undiscerning Christian wondering if God is faithful when hard times do come, and could leave their faith in shambles.

Music in the Church has just as much power to instruct people as any sermon, and can find its way deeper into a Christian's mind. Let me ask; what was the main point of last week's sermon? Last month's sermons? What scriptures were used? Now, recite the lyrics to your favorite songs, some old hymns, or what you sang this last Sunday. Music is a powerful tool to convey the truth, but it can carry destructive lies, too.

We are to worship God in spirit and in truth. He went to great lengths to reveal Himself to us. We should never take lightly the responsibility we have to know him rightly and proclaim the truth.

This post is a follow up to Lecherous Worship

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Salvation is Here

This Sunday we are introducing another new song; Salvation is Here by Hillsong United:

For those of you who like the work of Lincoln Brewster, here is his version: