On a recent Sunday morning, I stopped where I was during the first song of church and looked around the room. Several hundred people were gathered in the semi-darkness, and from my position on the side of the room I could see most of them. Most were facing forward, looking toward the screens on the walls or the band onstage. Most were standing, but some stayed seated. Some were singing; others were not. Some held cups of coffee or water. And as I surveyed the room, I had one thought that has lingered with me ever since: Worship is weird.
Think about it. Depending on the size of the church, you have anywhere from a half-dozen to several hundred (or even thousand) people gathered together in a room. The room may be bright, illuminated by stained-glass windows, or you may squint to read the bulletin you were handed on your way in. There may be an organist and robe-clad choir, or a drum set and skinny-jean wearing worship band. There may be hymnals tucked into the pews, or there may be electronic screens on the walls.
Regardless of those variables, at some point everyone in the room will be asked to stand and sing together. As a friend said once, when I mentioned my thoughts on the subject, “Imagine if you were in a bar and all of a sudden the lyrics to Lady Gaga’s latest song were projected onto screens around the room and, in a weird twist, everyone was asked to get up and sing along with a room full of strangers, whether you know or like the song or not.”
That’s essentially what we are doing in worship. Yes, worship – and especially the musical aspect of it – is weird. There is nothing else in our culture that really compares to it.
As a life-long churchgoer, this thought had never occurred to me before. Sunday morning worship has always just been something that we do – we just do – and I’ve never really questioned why or what it is. But in our church, we’ve had a lot of conversations lately about the unchurched members of our community (those who haven’t been to church in five or more years) and how they perceive how church people do church.
And that Sunday morning, as I realized how odd worship really is and how strange it must look to those who are newer to it, I thought, “Why is it like this? Why do we do this? What’s this supposed to be like?”
I was unnerved to realize that I didn’t know the answer to those basic questions. I know that worship (here, I mean the musical element of the service) is Biblical and is often a powerful way to connect with God……but beyond that? I don’t know much about it.
And so, over the next month I will be tackling this subject from all angles. I’ll be participating in the wildly popular blogging flash mob of “31 Days,” hosted by The Nester, exploring the topic of Worship and Music. I want to answer some of my own questions about worship and what it should be in the life of a follower of Christ. I want to dig into what God intends for worship to be, so that I can more fully experience Him through music. I even want to investigate the lyrics of some of my favorite worship songs, traditional and contemporary, to let their meaning sink deeply into my heart, and I want to take this journey with you, so that together we can experience God more fully on Sunday mornings and throughout the week.
I want this series to be both informative and practical…interesting and transformational. Please feel free to join the conversation, here (in the comments), on my Facebook page, or on Twitter (#worship31).
I welcome you to take this journey with me.