My brother travels across the country, ministering in a variety of churches, and I have the blessing of traveling with him. There are times, though, that I look around and think, Something is missing.
A few years ago, I was beginning to worry about myself. I felt like I was becoming one of those stodgy old women who refuses to accept modern praise and worship music, because they are not hymns. Now don’t get me wrong. I love hymns and am saddened by the fact that many young people (if not most) will never know the lyrics that have stood the test of time. But I finally realized that my objection is not so much the songs that are sung (although some leave much to be desired); it is the way they are sung.
People complain about the old 7/11 songs but, today, churches introduce songs that are not only shallow; they were not written to be sung by a congregation. They may be great for a praise & worship singer to sing in concert, but they are very difficult for people to sing along with.
Often on Sunday mornings, I am tired. Especially if I’ve been on my feet at a convention all weekend, Sundays can be very hard. I rely on God’s strength to get me through the day, and I look forward to worshiping with His people, but some weeks, I don’t really get that.
There are exceptions, of course. Some churches are full of the presence of the Lord the moment we arrive. It’s obvious the people there love the Lord and each other, and they are eager to see what God is going to do in their midst. This is what the Church should look like.
I would love to see more churches do a mixture of hymns and praise and worship songs. The key to worship is singing songs that honor our Lord while focusing on Him, not the people around us. At the same time, the leader must be in tune with those around him or her. Are they singing? Praying? Worshiping? Or are they merely watching? The difference between a worship service and a concert is that the former should not be a performance. It is not a contest of vocal or musical ability. It is the gift of seeing those who have had a rough week, who are discouraged, who wonder why they are even there, and leading them into the presence of the Lord. Once there, they can leave their burdens at the altar and better hear the message God desires to speak to them.
A true worship leader is just as important as a pastor who preaches the Word without compromise. Together, they will help to build a church that God can use in a mighty way.