“i just love worshiping. worshiping’s my favorite.”
from the earliest days of my life with Christ, i have loved to worship through singing. from the days of hosanna, to vineyard and sonicflood, on through mercyme and the passion movement that continues to lead so many in, well, passionate worship gatherings, not to mention the folks at hillsong and hillsong united, i have over 2,000 songs in my worship library in itunes, and i know a great deal of them by memory. to repackage the wisdom of buddy the elf, “i just love worshiping. worshiping’s my favorite.” i realize in my more mature theology that worship is about much more than mere singing, yet scripture is replete with scenes of believers gathered to sing to God. there’s something about singing together (whether it’s in corporate worship or the rock anthems of hairstyles past) that brings everyone to a different level than they could have reached alone. when we “make a joyful noise to the Lord,” the distinctions between naturally (and spiritually) gifted musicians, and those for whom noise is truly the most we can expect, seems to even out a bit.
that’s not to say that we should all just bang on pots and scream out whatever we feel like. there is a definite purpose for worship leaders (0r “lead worshipers” as some call themselves) and writers of songs for corporate worship. there is certainly no shortage of debate, argument, even church schism, over styles and content of worship, so i will tread somewhat lightly. i realize even the mention of his name may polarize some, but brian mclaren has written an excellent and thoughtful challenge to songwriters, worship leaders, musicians, and followers of Jesus. i encourage you to follow that link forthwith, think about, pray about it, read it again, and then return to my post. ready, go.
now for my $0.02. i could not agree more with mclaren’s, and others’, cries for more depth of theology, genuine focus on God rather than shiny/happy trivialities, and especially more artistic excellence. i am intrigued by the notion that some worship songs ought to allow the body of believers to sit in the sadness and pain of lament. (we’ve dabbled in that in our student ministry, but not in actual songs. there really aren’t any.)
it’s the songs where words fail and all you can do is sing out a string of “la la la” or “whoa, oh oh” that bring me to a place where i don’t need to say rational words.
what i don’t see, but would love to, is a recognition that sometimes there are no words, but we sing because we can’t stay silent. our middle schoolers love to form a giant “o” with their arms whenever we sing celebratory songs with an “whoa, oh” type of refrain. in fact, sometimes that melody is all they remember later on. but for me, it’s the songs where words fail and all you can do is sing out a string of “la la la” (such as david crowder band’s you are my joy) or “whoa, oh oh” (i absolutely love the bridge of hillsong united’s with everything) that bring me to a place where i don’t need to say rational words. isn’t God bigger than our words anyway? of course, there are times to be silent as well, but in a corporate setting that may include nonbelievers, you have to be wise and discerning about how much you are silent without further instruction.
when was the last time words failed to capture what you wanted to say to God, but you had to sing anyway?
About andrew burden
andrew blogs about being a volunteer youth leader, teacher, video editor, husband, friend, child of God