12/18/2014

On Keeping Ones Mouth Shut

This morning, a friend posted a link to a very nice article about worship in contemporary churches these days and how it's lost a lot of the teaching of theology since it moved to chorus based feel-good music that you hear on the radio and away from the hymns of the ages. I mentioned something that I'd been pondering blogging about for a few weeks anyway - that in addition to missing the theology (not to mention instruction in reading music that no one gets now that all we have are words on the screen instead of hymnals with notes and music) we're missing the act of corporate worship as the voices of the congregation are drowned out by the "worship pastor" and his band who are all miked and amped so that you can't hear yourself sing, yet alone the person next to you.

At the church we went to prior to our current church home of six years, the new "worship pastor" turned the music time into nothing short of a coffee house where he was the main act and we were the worshipping supplicants there to hear him rhapsodize.

Our current church isn't that bad, but it's getting close. For the period of Advent, rather than having a Christmas program, the "worship pastor" said he was bringing the music of Advent and Christmas into the service each week. I, along with many others, were excited to get the chance to sing some of the beloved hymns of this season. So it was hugely disappointing when we realized the first week (and every week following) that what he meant was instead of our usual music time wherein the band and he are the only things you can hear if you're hoping and trying to sing along, now we aren't even really welcome to try to sing, because he has his program and the performances that we would otherwise have watched during the cantata are now being produced each Sunday morning. Even the responsive reading, which in a usual setting is fairly evenly split between the worship leader and the congregation, is slide after slide of him reading with us getting one, maybe two lines at the end. His reasoning? The congregation doesn't read with enough drama to understand what's being said. So why bother trying to make it responsive in the first place?

I'm not alone in my annoyance. The majority of people at our church make it a point to arrive 10-15 minutes late to service - at the welcome and greeting time - so that we can avoid the farcical "corporate worship." But the "worship pastor" doesn't have an issue with this or see it as any reason to change what he's doing. After all, he's got the degree, we're just the sheep in the pews.

And that's basically the response I got from my friend's friend - that my experiences were wrong. Because this person has 20 years experience and is a singer/songwriter and he would know and I wouldn't. And I thought to myself, and that, that right there, is EXACTLY the attitude our "worship pastor" has.

As an aside, you may have noticed the term "worship pastor" in quotes. I shudder when I see that. Why not just be the music pastor? The whole service is the worship service. We worship through prayer. We worship through the sermon. We worship through the offering. If anyone is the pastor in charge of making the time there worshipful, it's the Senior Pastor, not the music minister. It seems an incredible conceit to name yourself the "worship pastor" when you're only concern is making sure that your band gets an appropriate amount of play time in each service.

1 comment:

Rae said...

I'm totally with you!