Everyday Faith

Worship and Music: A 31-Day Series

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.

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11 replies »

  1. I’ll be following along, Jessica! I’m so excited about your journey on this topic! Thank you for deciding to write about this. I know we will all enjoy hearing your thoughts and chiming in on the conversation ourselves! 🙂

  2. i’m not sure I ever thought “weird” before… but I have stopped and had that moment. and though i’m not a question-er, i have thought “why?” as our own church is having growing pains, i am looking forward to this journey with you!

    • Growing pains are hard, especially in church. It’s a place where we value comfort and familiarity, but I think it’s in the growing pains that we get to experience more of who God is and more of what He has for us. It can be hard, for sure, but it’s exciting, too. I’m so glad you stopped by today!

  3. Hi Jessica. You are my neighbor for the 31 Days series. So glad to find you. LOVE this topic. Worship is very dear to my heart but you are right. It can be odd if we don’t let the act of worship transform us. Looking forward to what you have to share!!

    • I’m sure you have a lot to add, with a perspective that I don’t have. I welcome any feedback and comments – I’m doing a lot of research, but this won’t be a scholarly approach (since I’m no real scholar!). I just want to get to the bottom of what worship is and should be. I’m so glad you stopped by today!

  4. Wow, as a worship leader your topic stuck out to me in the link-up. So I curiously clicked over. I am so glad I did! This is definitely something that is at the forefront of my mind while leading with our worship team every weekend. I’m excited to read along with you as your journey through this topic!

  5. I think I’m going to enjoy this blog series… Because as you know, this speaks directly to my heart!

    You’re right… Worship is weird. VERY weird, especially, to the non-church-goer. And it’s my role (and the role of others who play a part in making Sunday morning happen) to RECOGNIZE that fact and acknowledge it to those who are walking in to church for the first time and thinking “Wow, this is different and weird and it makes me slightly uncomfortable. I hardly know who Jesus is, am I supposed to sing with these people about how much I love Him when I hardly know Him?”

    Every church should strive to be a church that unchurched people would love and feel comfortable attending, and we need to acknowledge from the outset the fact that what we do is probably going to feel different and slightly uncomfortable at first… Sort of saying “Hey, we’re in this together. I stood in your shoes once. Grab my hand, let’s take this journey together.”

    • Amen and amen, Wes. I’m glad you’re in on this conversation, because I was going to email you and ask you for your thoughts. Feel free to chime in any time! You definitely have a perspective on this subject that I don’t, so I welcome whatever you have to say. 🙂

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