This is a questions that MUST be asked. To ourselves, to us as a christian body. In Numbers 21 we can read the story of the Bronze Serpent that God used to heal the isrealites. Curiously if you jump ahead to Second Kings 18 there is a misshap with it.
21:8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
18:4 He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan)
As we can see, an instrument of God became a recipient of worship. Today we’re still the same people and there’s nothing new under the sun, so we’re prone to repeat the same mistakes. But the trap is such an easy pitfall… See, we care about the mood. The atmosphere. The melody. The crowd. The emotion. Your favorite worship leader or your favorite speaker. The band. The performance. The feeling.
We can get confused sometimes. Are we there to worship God or are we there to enjoy worship? I’ve heard these ill-advised comments waaaay to often “Hey, I love how you lead worship”or even worse “I enjoy worship more when you lead it”. Careful brothers and sisters! These kind of congratulations should never get into our heads. Furthermore, we obviously need to teach the congregation what worship and praise really are. It is about G-O-D and it should never matter who leads it or who plays or who sings. It is one of those slippery slopes. If needed, talk to the senior pastor so he can also take action.
But the main point is that some people enjoy worship a little too much. In the 20th and 21st century we’ve gone from preachings of 60+min to just 20+ min. I was so surprised after visiting my brothers in EE.UU that it did not matter if I went to Willow Creek, IL , Southern Baptist of Greensboro, NC or Hillsong Church, NY. All 3 had this in common: Long worship time (30-60 min), very short announcements/offering and preaching. I felt sadened by it, but there is really little we can do to reverse the trend.
Just to illustrate the issue, Hillsong Worship (One of the 7 channels!!!) has 1 million subscribers, whereas Brian Houston, pastor of the same church and with the same media guys and promotion, is just above 28k subscribers. This is a strong indicator that people are really, really, really into worship but not so much into hearing from God. Worship, after all, is not about hearing God but for God to hear us. And I’m not saying this is the gospel truth nor that everyone should stop listening to music to hear preachings. Everything has a balance, but right now there is sadly a lot of worshipping worship itself.
How much of the church budget was put into big speakers? Sound system? Projectors? Lights? Control room? Practise room? Sound isolation?. And on the other hand, how much was put down for seminarists? How much was invested in a prayer room? Evangelism? How many $/€/£ for a kitchen in church? And I could go on… but the purpose is not to make us feel guilty but to help us explore the need for balance in all things.
Think about it: Is the worship for God or for worship itself? What do you think? What could we do to balance (not reverse) the trend? Comment below!