Updated: Dec 4, 2019
Psalm 89:5 The heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; Your faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones.
On a recent NRP worship leader conference call, I discussed the trend emerging in worship—self edifying worship. Before we can determine what is appropriate worship, it may be wise to simply be clear on defining it. Those on the call resoundingly agreed that worship is glorifying God. In light of that, I read the words to two popular “worship” songs. The question I considered was: “Who were the songs about?” In each case, they were about the worshiper, not about the object of worship—God.
Let’s break this down. If someone who knew nothing of God heard those songs, who would they know more about—those singing the song or the One being sung to? This is a very fair and biblical appraisal. There is a big difference between singing about how I feel about God and how God thinks of me. There is a big difference in singing about my struggles and singing about God’s purpose for us. I’m not asking what makes the worshiper feel good, edifies them, or ministers to them. It’s time to ask what is pleasing to Him.
Is it possible that we are using corporate worship as a substitute for our own intimacy with God?
We’ve bitten the apple where worship leaders feel like it’s their job to produce the holy of holies. Congregational worship has become the substitute for personal worship. These self-focused songs are popular because personal worship isn’t taking place on their own.
How I feel and what I feel about God is not the most important thing. When we are singing about ourselves, that is fuel on the fire of self-focused Christians (without intending to be). And it is a very wrong mechanism. If an alien walked into our service and took all of the song lyrics back home, what would they then know about God? They would probably know more about how we feel than about God.
We live in a very self-serving, “me first” world. We sing about ourselves, we sing about our feelings, we sing about our experiences. Then we scratch our heads when people act independently and exalt their experiences and insight about Truth. Maybe we have unwittingly trained them to be self-focused. Maybe their theology has been shaped by what they have been singing. Maybe they really are the center of it all…not Him.
God wants to give us a different sound than we are hearing in the Church right now. The purpose of worship is to glorify God. The purpose is not for the worshiper to be edified (although that is a wonderful byproduct of worship). But the culture has turned the focus of worship on our needs, our wants, our feelings. We need a generation that will rise up, grasp the purpose of worship, and keep the focus on the King of kings and Lord of lords.