January 28, 2022

The Elevation of Worship in Todays Culture

Twitter isn't a really edifying place (which is why we personally don't have a feed). However we came across this thread by Pastor Adriel Sanchez which we thought was too good not to share!

"In the 1960s and following, the Praise and Worship movement coming out of North American Pentecostal churches helped to give birth to the worship leader as an individual distinct from the minister. This movement taught that God’s presence was experienced primarily through song.
This was a significant shift in emphasis, with the focus turning away from the sacraments of the church (and Christ’s presence in the Supper) toward a view which emphasized the mediation of God’s presence through musical worship led by worship teams. As a result, you had the rise of a new priesthood of sorts. The sacrament of God’s presence was no longer the Supper, but song, and the priesthood that mediated that presence became the worship leaders. They “usher” the church into God’s presence.

It’s almost a given that when evangelicals today talk about “experiencing God’s presence in worship” they’re referring to something they felt while singing. God’s presence has come to depend upon our praises rather than his promise in the objective means of grace. Without minimizing the importance of singing, and the fact that God does inhabit the praises of his people, it’s important that the church recover a solid understanding of the preached word and sacraments. The Holy Spirit mediates the presence of Jesus through word, water, wine.

The question in Christian worship is never “Will God show up?” But will we, the worshippers, heed his summons to approach the throne of grace by faith. Will I come in faith to lay hold of the heavenly gifts he is showering upon the church?" - Ps Adriel Sanchez
These thoughts resonate with me a lot, as I do serve in the worship team at church (playing the piano). I remember struggling a few years back with the "worship is not a performance but really everybody treats it like it is" paradigm given the heavy emphasis and importance given to worship.

Now don't get me wrong (and as Adriel clearly points out), singing spiritual songs & hymns are important especially when the words are theologically rich (or taken from the Bible itself like the Psalms) and point us towards Christ. But there is almost a certain humility required in todays culture to say that greater importance must be given to the preaching and the sacraments. We often see these ordinary means of grace as just that, ordinary. Whereas with worship we feel a degree of control, we play around with different keys, tempos & emphasis and our validation is the reaction of the congregation (or audience?) on Sunday.

I don't want to pretend that I've figured out perfectly how to deal with how we worship (& lead worship if you're in that space), but just wanted to share these thoughts with you as I thought it was super helpful and I'm still trying to reflect & prayerfully process them. Let me know what your thoughts are, I'd love to hear them!