Attention all Worship Leaders, Musicians and Singers!

Music in Worship by Mark Gungor

Allow me to begin by saying that I am a musician.  I have played music since I was 13 years old.  I have played around the world in Christian bands and worship services for over 30 years.  I was part of one of the first Christian rock bands in the 70’s. I know what it means to play in church services, both traditional and contemporary. I have written and produced music for radio and television for almost 20 years.  I was even the producer of a recording used in the sound track of the hit movie The Bucket List.

So let it be clear: I am not against music or musicians when it comes to the Christian experience.  Quite the contrary; music can be a powerful part of the worship experience.  But, I believe we have some big problems when it comes to music in many churches today.

PROBLEM #1: We have defined singing as worship.

Look up the word worship and you will find definitions like this:

            to show devotion or reverence; adore or venerate; to have intense love or admiration for; to offer prayers; etc…

Interesting that there is no mention of music.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  One can surely use music to adore or show reverence, but one does not need music to do that.  In other words: Singing is not, in and of itself, worship.

Many churches today have wonderful music, great bands, singers, lights and effects, video screens and the like.  Many consider THAT to be worship.  Well, it may be a part of worship, but one does not need a Christian version of American Idol on a stage to engage in worship.  I’ll go even further: Just because one engages in a Christian version of a rock-star stage show, clapping and waving, it does not mean they are worshiping. Lots of fans of rock, blues, punk, rap, etc., listen to their favorite bands, sing along, wave, jump and scream, but are not “worshiping”; they are just having a good time.  (I dare say there is little difference, sadly, between many church “worship” services and a standard rock or country concert.)

Not only have many churches re-defined worship to be a full band on stage with lights and effects, they assume that only such an expression is true worship.  Remove the band and singers from many of these church services and people would scream bloody murder that the church is no longer worshiping. Sadly, remove the prayer, offering, sermon or communion and only have singing, people would shout to high heaven about what a great worship service it was!  Schedule an evening of just singing and we call it a “Worship Night”.  Many have defined singing as “worship”, when it should only be considered a part of the overall worship experience.

Has anyone ever noticed that no place in the Gospels does it ever record that Jesus and his disciples rocked back and forth, raised their hands and sang at the top of their lungs for 30, 40, 60 minutes or more?  In fact, there is only one record of them singing at all.  They sang ONE hymn and moved on.  I think that lots of Christians today would not have liked going to a church where Jesus and his disciples gathered. They would have bitterly complained saying, “They do not worship!”  Really??

And while the New Testament does refer to psalms, hymns and spiritual songs as part of the worship expression and we read in Acts how Paul and Silas sang out at midnight from their prison cells, does anybody really believe they “worshiped” like we do today—band playing, pretty girls jumping around, lights flashing as bass and drums rocked the house?  Seriously??

Look, I’m not against modern expressions of praise.  Just don’t make it the definition of worship. Historically, churches referred to the musical part of the service as “singing hymns” or “song services”.  They did not, however, define “worship” solely as singing.  That is a relatively new phenomenon.

Problem #2: We have elevated the status of the “Worship Leader”.

Not only have churches re-defined singing as “worship”, many have raised the participants of music to a level equal to the level of the elders of the church or the pastorate. Our worship leaders have become the de facto “priests of worship” in our gatherings.  And while I appreciate a great singer or musician, there is no mention in the New Testament of “worship leader” along with the five-fold ministry gifts that God gave the church.

Worship “leaders”, singers and musicians are told that they are something special, anointed servants, true vessels of the presence of God, leading others before the throne of God, and as the high priests of worship, must conduct themselves in just the right way so that God can “move” through the congregation. But this is utter nonsense.  They have created an Old Testament model akin to the priests of the temple or of Moses raising his hands to bring victory (remember, if Moses’ hands fell down, the army was defeated) or a model of Sampson who, if his hair was not just right, could not experience the power of God.

The truth is, however, that people can worship God, I don’t care WHO the worship “leader” is or how spiritual or unspiritual the band is.  My ability to adore Jesus has little to no connection to how “holy” or “un-holy” the musicians are.  We don’t live in the Old Testament where the “vessel” was everything—the connecting point for people to experience God.  We live in the NEW Testament where every believer has direct access to God and does not need a “priest of worship” to make that possible.

And the stories I could tell of the so-called “powerful”, “anointed”, “spirit lead” worship leaders who wowed and amazed thousands, only to discover later that these “priests of worship” were: fornicating (gay or heterosexual versions – let’s “include” everyone), committing adultery, faking cancer, gambling, getting divorced, or hooked on porn—the WHOLE time they were wowing the masses!  How is that possible?  Because God connects with his people and his people connect with him, no matter who the so-called worship “leader” is.  But upon seeing this empirical evidence, do the spiritual leaders of these churches come to the logical conclusion that there is nothing uniquely holy about singers, musicians and worship “leaders”?  Sadly, no.

In my church, musicians are on the stage for one reason: They can sing or they can play—period.  They are not pastors, apostles, prophets, evangelists or teachers—they are musicians. They hold no special status like that of an elder or deacon. Quite frankly, their spiritual status is of little matter and in some cases, not required at all.  We don’t put the musicians on our platform through a spiritual filter anymore than we would ask that of the construction workers who built the building.    We do not hire a construction worker based on the condition of his heart, but on the status of his skill.  So it is with our musicians.

Now granted, if you get some highly skilled singer off the street to lead your song service, it may be rather awkward since he/she would not know the culture, the songs, the temperament of the church, or even how to begin to honor God in a church service.  It is always ideal and preferable to have a committed believer lead the music; one who understands who God is and what it is we are trying to do.  But at the end of the day they are up there for one overwhelming reason: They have musical skill.

Of course an argument can be made that a church doesn’t want people on the platform who do not reflect the values of their church.  I think that is fair and is certainly within the prerogative of the leadership of that church.  I suppose I would not want someone who is coming in, after snorting cocaine, leading the congregation in a rather spirited version of “Amazing Grace”.  But that still does not change the fact that the spiritual or “heart” status of the musician has anything to do with how people worship God.  Again, our singers and musicians are up there because they can sing or play—period, not because they have some unique Old Testament version of an “anointing”.

I remember being back stage at a big Christian music event before our band went on. The lead singer of the next band, some 20-something-year-old chick, was back stage whining, complaining and being quite ugly.  But as soon as she stepped on to the stage…WOW!!  She was amazing!  I’ll never forget it.  Was she experiencing some version of a spiritual anointing?  No.  She was just really talented and knew how to sell a song. She was highly skilled.

Speaking of skill… A lot of musicians and singers would find their ministries to be far more effective if they worked more on their musical skills rather than their “anointing” or state of heart.  Choirs would be more effective if they spent more time rehearsing and less time in their own mini “Singers Bible Study”.  Not that state of heart or Bible study is not important, because it is important—for every believer, whether they sing on stage or change diapers in the nursery.  Always strive for a pure heart, but good grief, if you’re going to play or sing on the platform: Work on your skills!!

I tell you that if Celine Dion showed up at any Evangelical church this Sunday and sang “Amazing Grace”, the place would glow with wonder and amazement and people would worship and touch God—and I’m not sure she is even a professing Christian.  Her TALENT would lift people’s hearts and minds.  True worship would happen because God’s people would connect with God—it has never been, nor will it ever be, about the spiritual status of the singer or the players.

And consider this: Many (if not most) of the musicians you hear on Christian recordings are not believers in Jesus at all.  Some of them, frankly, are quite accomplished heathens and pagans (I know—I’ve met them).  You think when you hear that big string section on your favorite worship CD that they are all committed followers of Christ?  Hardly.  Yet you worship and praise God when you hear these recordings.  Why? Because its not about the musicians—it’s about you and God.

I also do not refer to what our singers and musicians do as “worship”. It is not.  It is a part of the worship experience, but it is not, in and of itself, worship.  It is we, who gather in Christ’s name, who worship—as we pray, as we hear God’s word, as we give, as we take communion, as we serve and as we sing.

Problem #3: Singing has become the new “penance”.

I am stunned at how many people consider themselves committed Christians primarily because they come to church and sing.

They don’t give any money.

They don’t serve in any meaningful way.

They don’t pray.

They don’t study the Bible. (Anyone noticed the rise of Biblical illiteracy among professing Christians today?)

They divorce their spouses for unbiblical reasons.

They are up to their eyeballs in sexual sin.

Yet they consider themselves committed Christians.  Why? Because they sing in church.  The emotional vetting they experience during singing has taken the place of sorrow, confession, repentance and restitution. I can’t help but think of the words of Jesus when he said, “Not everyone who says [or I’m sure: sings] Lord, Lord, will get into the kingdom of heaven”.

Problem #4: It turns away men.

We have a “man” problem in the church today.  Christianity has become the only major religion that appeals more to women then to men.

Islam doesn’t have that problem.

Judaism doesn’t have that problem.

Buddhism doesn’t have that problem.

Even the most extreme versions of Islam have men lining up at the door—and they have to blow themselves to bits!  We have a hard time getting a guy to sit down for an hour!  Why?  The great emphasis on “emotive expression”, particularly in singing, turns men off.  And where in the New Testament do we see men singing for extended periods of time anyway??  Sorry, it’s not there.

This is a generality, but it is generally true: Men don’t like to sing. Get over it.  Oh, they would happily belt out several rounds of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” with a bunch of other guys, but join in emotive, soul revealing ballads?  Sorry.  Oh, they would happily do what Jesus and his disciples did—sing ONE hymn and move on. But that is not what we ask of them today.  We ask that they stand and sway and sing at the top of their voices like pre-pubescent girls at a Justin Bieber concert.

Have you noticed that a lot of guys come to church late intentionally?  They want to limit their exposure to the thirty-minute (plus) songfest.  Add the fact that the keys of the songs seem to be getting higher and higher, as though written for an Ethiopian eunuch, and you can begin to see why so many men just stand and stare during the song portion of the church service or attempt to avoid it altogether.

One of the reasons our church inGreen Bay, Wisconsin, can get 1,000 men to show up for a men’s conference (something churches many times our size don’t seem to be able to do) is because we clearly advertise: No hand holding.  No crying. No SINGING.

“You don’t worship!?!”

Oh, we worship at our men’s conferences—we just don’t sing.  Remember, singing is only a form of worship.  It is not, in and of itself, worship.  If we would begin to limit the “emotive” requirements imposed by so many churches, we would start to have greater success reaching men for the kingdom of God.

Conclusion

Moses lifted up a serpent in the wilderness.  If anyone was bitten by a snake, they only had to look to the serpent of bronze that Moses lifted up and they would be healed.  Cool miracle, right?  You would think the people would have celebrated the miracle and worship God, wouldn’t you?  But no, they took the serpent of bronze and started to worship it as a god instead.

Throughout the centuries, people of faith have been tempted to get their eyes off of God and focus on things that don’t really matter—like worshiping a bronze snake.

I fear we have made too much of the music part of our expression. Musicians are not spiritual just because they can sing or play. Singing can not take the place of true repentance and commitment to God, and men do not have to act like excited “Bieber fans” in order to worship God.

I love music.  I always have and I always will. Singing is great.  It is Biblical. It has its place. Just don’t make it into something that it is not.

Mark Gungor is the lead Pastor of Celebration Church, a multi-site church with 5 campuses, based in Green Bay, WI.  He is also the author of the best-selling “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage”. 

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97 Responses to “Attention all Worship Leaders, Musicians and Singers!”

  1. Steve says:

    Just read your post on worship leaders. Not impressed. I’m sure you wrote this to be provocative but all it did is made me angry, not intrigued. I am a music director at church and have found just the opposite to what you’ve found to be true. I found that most of my friends won’t go to church because the sermons are too long and boring. Now I know that you teaching pastor types like to hear your own voices like politicians do so that may sound untrue but it’s not. Wait, you’ve already checked out and probably aren’t going to read this anyway like most lead pastors who know everything so I’ll just stop now. Gotta go practice my Justin Beiber solo for the week.

      • JANE says:

        Ephesians 6: 12
        for we are not fighting against flesh and blood but against the authorities and rulers of this dark world.

        the word of God gives life to every people who will listen, hear and obey them, and live by them but to those who neglected them will suffer and will be lost.

        God is omnipotent! all powerful. omniscient, all knowing God!!!
        to Him be all the Glory!!! honor and highest praise!!!!!

        • ODE HENRY says:

          thank you very much jane you spoke my mind. steve is just being jealous of worship and praise leader

    • Edward says:

      Those of us up front are sinners like everyone else. We can “paint our cup white” on the outside like Jesus said about the Pharisees, but we’re still sinners. Anyone who looks to us musicians for “holiness” are looking at the wrong thing. You should be looking to Jesus for that. We’re not worthy.

      I have been a Christian musician in church for all my life, and I’ve never considered myself to be anything more than a dude who God has given musical talent to. I’m blessed to be able to use that talent to make music to and for God, but to think I have some kind of “anointing” is folly, presumptuous, & prideful.

      I need Jesus just as much as anyone in the congregation. (And they’re a congregation, not an audience!!) And I have to slay the dragon (the pride I take in my musical talent) every day.

      Please stop putting us musicians up on a “platform”, thanks.

    • R. Case says:

      Dear Steve,

      As a committed believer of Jesus Christ, and a church attender, I find a lot of what the blogger here has said to be true.

      Much of the time ‘worship,’ the singing part of a service on a Sunday, is more like a modern day rock concert. It’s loud, the leader is more interested in being on American Idol, the songs are not familiar or edifying and lack little semblance to what is actually written in the Bible, or they incorporate hedonistic and atheistic based songs into the worship set. And then there’s the obligatory “buy my worship cd” on the tables in the back or in the lobby to purchase.

      Am I coming to church to support your ‘ministry’ or to grow in my faith?

      When supplementary books, cds, videos, and ministry tapes are lauded alongside or even exalted above the bible, it cause me to question as to what the real purpose behind the pastors and worship leader’s motivation for being onstage or behind the pulpit.

      I’d much rather sing a couple of songs that lift my spirit or expound on the greatness of God, than to sit through a 30+ minute concert in the the dark.

    • Terry Eibeck says:

      My god I didn’t even get all the way through the article. It’s easy to see that this guy AKA Steve is angry and overall just miserable. I mean get real I’ve been in church services where that entire service was nothing but singing AKA worshipping. Sure there are some stail worship Services AKA singing that’s just part of it. But to say that singing isn’t a part of Worship is just bogus= just outright stupid.

  2. Tim Wright says:

    Great stuff. Spot on. Thanks. (One minor quibble: Our Jewish friends are facing the same challenges. They, too, are losing men. Just spent a couple of days with two Jewish guys, one a Rabbi and one a Synagogue leader both of whom affirmed that their faith, too, is devoid of men.)

  3. May says:

    I liked what you wrote very much and I totally agree, I have a son who does this ‘coming in late thing’ all the time! We need quiet times so we can hear the voice of the LORD. we are also very restricted time wise in our services. Going to ‘church’ has to change, just as the living out our being a Christian has to change. Thanks Mark for trying to wake us! In His service, May.

  4. Cara Louise says:

    I really appreciate your thoughts here Mark, and it makes me feel even more blessed to be a part of the little church of which I am a member which has a lot of the same thinking you do!

    • Fred Smith says:

      The fact you are proud of being a part of a small body of believers is concerning. I hope and pray that was just a typing error. As believer, we should all be seeking to grow our church.
      Matthew 28:19
      King James Version (KJV)
      19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

  5. Kathy says:

    Thanks for your great insights. I also love music and love to sing and can appreciate that not everyone does.
    I am grateful for all the ways I have seen people in our church worship God with everything they do between noon on Sunday and 9 AM the next Sunday. I am noticing that I can’t get through a week solely on the 90 minutes I spend singing and listening to the teaching even though it is consistently very good. The commitment to God, and the worshipful ways that lives are lived in the people that I deal with during the week is what helps me make it through. They are not perfect, but are real and honest. And I’m sure the Bible says to always rejoice in the Lord, not just for 30 minutes once a week.
    Thanks again Mark. Take care.

  6. barry nolan says:

    WWJD ? as the writer states ‘ever noticed that no place in the Gospels does it ever record that Jesus and his disciples rocked back and forth, raised their hands and sang at the top of their lungs for 30, 40, 60 minutes or more? In fact, there is only one record of them singing at all. They sang ONE hymn and moved on.’ … from this, ONE hymn is what should take place if we follow Jesus’ example… or is that what Jesus really intended?

    the writer is not talking about replacing anything but ‘music worship’; it appears to be a ‘dulling down’ of the overall worship experience. suggest having ‘one hymn’ at any church today and follow the result. this ‘one hymn’ is how the writer opens and closes the dialogue.

  7. Woody Davis says:

    Excellent blog Mark. One caveat: It is not true that men don’t like to sing. Anyone who’s been on a team bus going to an away game has heard a bunch of guys start singing without any prompting. Guys in the military do the same thing. In every culture around the world men sing without any prompting from the women in their community. As you hint at, it’s primarily the content & style of the singing that’s the problem. Yes, there is too much of it in today’s contemporary services, but that would be less of a problem if there was greater variety, including challenge and a call to action, for example.

  8. Dalena says:

    Nail. Head. Hit square on! Love it! Sometimes I think I’m a weirdo or anti-church b/c I prefer to skip a large portion of the singing. Yes, I come in late, for that very reason! Thanks so much for writing this. God bless :-)

    • Paulette says:

      I have to agree with Dalena. Whilst I have sung both in the secular music arena as well as the Christian it is the latter which seem to think singing in church for way longer than the Pastor is preaching is ok!! It is not. Temperance folks temperance. I am showing this Mark to all the musicians, praise, worship team leaders I can find. Surely they will eventually see the light! and it won’t be the funky glowing danceball of a disco night!

  9. David says:

    I am a man aged 61. I enjoy the music experiense of the church service. Well performed christian music puts me in a good mood to truly connect to God. Someone that sang off key would disrupt that feeling. Maybe thats the wrong way to think about it, but that’s how I feel. I have noticed the key has been moving upward out of my range, and I don’t sing bass. I agree the worship leader should not be exalted. I do believe most have been given a gift that most of us don’t have. Granted Satan also has good musicians on his side. I believe angels really sing in heaven. Psalm 150:1-6. Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with the tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

    I believe that sounds like a band on the platform, playing music loudly. Every other being in his sanctuary should paise the Lord as well, maybe with his breath.
    In Christ, David

  10. collin says:

    I really enjoyed this and it gave me some interesting food for thought. I also think that the style of music by the “worship leader” affects the church overall as well. Too slow and we are all bored and too fast music and you lost everybody from over 30 from coming to the church at all. The style of music becomes the central point, not the preaching. Not what the church does. We end up separating the church experience into two pieces – the pastor (preaching) and the worship (music) and we have to like both.

  11. Wayne says:

    A very well-written and truth-filled article! It articulated many things that I’ve thought for a long time, but don’t say because I don’t want to be a “wet blanket” and dampen others’ enthusiasm. The part about men coming in late to avoid the “songfest” especially struck home with me. I’d gladly hang out in the hall until the song service is over, except for one thing: My family and I like to sit near the front, and it’s hard to find seats together if I don’t go straight from my Sunday school class to the sanctuary. So I’m one of those men who stands and waits for the “show” to end so I can get into an attitude of worship without all the noisy distractions.

  12. Allan says:

    I read your piece, top to bottom. It is a compelling article and I personally long for the older hymns; the hymns that both teach us, much like the scriptures and stick in one’s mind and are easily recalled like scripture. My question is, what can we do about/with today’s “worship” that is so loud you feel it in you skeletal frame via the amplification sometimes nearly the size physically of a small automobile.

    Music in a worship service that reaches the heart can be very moving and meaningful and not require swaying, jumping, waving or any other animation other than the the heart felt thankfulness for God’s blessings, presence, moving of the Holy Spirit. It’s in the hear of the hearer.

    I’m reminded of Promise Keepers events where as many as 60,000 men happily sang hymns and choruses,…..what happened. Something has definitely changed during the past ten years or so and I believe, not for the better.

    Thanks for sharing on FB

    • Daniel - Aussie says:

      Good one. I’ve been to a couple of places in Sydney (couldn’t call them church) where they played it so loud that you couldn’t hear yourself think. You had to yell to be heard, and it was the regular morning service.

      Why do they think that the music has to be so loud that they even supply earplugs for the toddlers? They realise it’s going to damage hearing! Will they eventually provide healing services for the hearing damage?

  13. ML Carter says:

    Wow, great article. Thanks for turning the light on for me. My husband, who loves music, is not a singer and would like to skip the “song service” part of our church services. We long to learn to really worship.
    I love the song we actually sing in our song service some Sundays (hanging my head here, I really love this song) “When the music fades…”, a great song, but why am I standing here singing about not singing and then feeling really emotional and thinking I have been worshiping? (’cause it’s all about me, it’s all about me, Jesus).
    Both us us grew up “in church” but have yet to experience real corporate worship as far as we can tell. We are praying to learn.
    Thanks again for the insight.

  14. Vicki says:

    I have been a “fence sitter” for many years but I know God has never let me out of his sight. I am sure he must have a sense of humour to keep watching over me!! I came across your site when my husband “shared” an I-tunes with me on Facebook – “Men’s brains vs Women’s brains”. Not so strange you might think – because it is a funny clip – but my husband has no faith whatsoever! We have survived nearly 40 years together and I trust we have many more to go. It would be good if we could share our future with a mutual faith in God but, what will be, will be! In Jesus’ name, thank you for your support. Bless you, Vicki

  15. Hal says:

    I’ve read your post and agree with you—as a PK I’ve been part of the music ministry in one way or another (choir or worship team) and you’re spot on.

    What makes me sad is Steve’s negative comment: he did not even try to see the point. He saw a return to real worship a threat to his “ministry”. They have already decided that worship should be entertaining and sermons are boring. Yes, some speakers would do well to learn how to deliver a sermon… but lots of things that are worthwhile don’t always have to come off as entertainment.

    Another mistake which, I think, which was not delved too much on in your post is that people think that the singing that one is most comfortable with IS the true way to worship. I’ve seen people getting angry that there isn’t enough hymns, or choir pieces or a real organ. I’ve seen people froth at the mouth and call worship “dead” if there are no drummers or “worship leaders” available (notwithstanding what Christ said about two or three gathering).

    I’ve seen too many musicians who use the altar or the pulpit to showcase their skills rather than actually LEAD the people in worship. Wesley’s rules for singing, actually, seems to have been a great way to prevent all this (especially that bit where one should not strive to be heard above all the rest), but we use the worldly model of having our performer/worship leader up front.

  16. Dan Hodge says:

    Mark, thank you for your bold statements about the nature of worship. The rush to be entertaining in a church service has pushed aside the true meaning of worship. I am thinking that our time has seen an increase in bottle-fed babies when it comes to worship. When persecution comes, what will the rock-n-roll crowd do then?

  17. Art says:

    Wow…do you believe singing can be part of the “worship” part of a service?
    I disagree with your premise that men dont like to sing…i dont believe that this the major reason why men arent in church. (I have served in more than one conservative church…with hymns and a definite lack of the “touchy feely” songs) The mens involvement in the church wasnt any better than any church with Contemporary music.
    our music leaders are up front every service…are they expected to be pastors? I have never been involved in a church where this was the case. I believe you are describing situations that are occurring in churches where there is more emphasis on creating a “worship” experience that wont offend anyone.

  18. Daniel - Aussie says:

    Mark, Thanks for your ministry.

    This fetish for music disturbs me… What is the appetite they are creating by saying that the music has to be … [insert descriptors] … before it can be worship?

    Too loud is like Too much of anything… eg: Too much food makes you fat. We have to be carefull that we are not just simply creating something for our own desires – because this is walking after the flesh. We need to walk after what the spirit wants, and this can only be found in his word: the bible.

  19. Rhonda says:

    This has nothing 2 do w/marriage, but AMEN!!!!!! I’m so glad you’ve said this Bro. Mark. 4 over 20 yrs., I’ve wondered if I was being unspiritual because 2 be honest-I don’t like singing. When I was a kid, we did maybe 3 or 4 hymns & moved on & I’ve wondered why it can’t be that way now. But, I didn’t grow up charismatic either so I thought maybe that was why-my husband grew up charismatic & I was the 1 who had 2 “convert” & got criticized by ppl in the church cuz I wasn’t emotive. I didn’t raise my hands, etc. I’ve shown up late many times 2 avoid this & have told ppl that I prefer prayers, confession, repentance & sermons. I especially get tired of singing the same chorus of a song over & over (no joke-@ 30 mins. or so). Thx-I no longer feel I was being disrespectful. I’ve also heard many wives say their husbands r late cuz they don’t like all that singing & have heard many men sheepishly confess that (not just agreeing w/their wives, but many men say that independently). This is indeed welcome information

  20. Chad says:

    Mostly agree with it. If we try to develop a religion that appeals to men because they don’t have to be emotionally vested, it will be full of guys who only want to talk about what makes them happy (sports, hunting, fishing, work) and don’t know how to connect with God. Teen Challenge is all men, with singing, which helps break down the superficial walls that all guys have.
    I agree that the concept of singing as worship is out of balance though. I think our church gets it, for the most part, but it would be good to keep an ongoing discussion of this topic with the worship leaders.

    • andy says:

      one of the best mens group i was part of did what you mention for about an hour: pizza, cars, fishing, you name it
      and then, for about another hour, we would explore some relevant topic, and often one would open up a wound (issue, temptation etc); the rest of us would acknowledge that and move on
      it is my experience that men can be deep and thoughtful, open and brave; and when that happens, many are blessed
      but it’s not easy for us taking risks, especially if the environment is unfamiliar
      we seem to connect better to real-life settings, and after we’ve fellowshipped in work, sports etc
      i realize this is not relating to the core of the article, just trying to raise awareness that not all men fit in a (pink) box

  21. Jaimie says:

    I understand the point you are trying to make here, but I can’t say that I agree. While it is sad that so much of the church has made “worship” into something that is anything but worship, the music portion of the service can definitely contribute to a person’s drawing closer to the Lord. The songs we sing should cause people to stop and honor the Lord and turn their focus toward Him. While it may not be a new testament example, David certainly spent a lot of his time playing music and singing to the Lord. Jesus said “My house shall be called a house of prayer”. Much of the music portion of a service (at least at my church) is prayer both spoken and sung. I don’t recall Jesus saying “my house should be a house of teaching” though we absolutely should teach. Also, whether it’s right or not, the congregation does tend to look at anyone on stage on Sunday morning as being a leader of sorts. That being said, musicians and singers should absolutely live by a standard of holiness if they are going to represent the church. Whether or not it affects their “anointing” or not is trivial in comparison to the fact that they are being watched and associated with a ministry as representative of that ministry. To allow someone to have that position and then live like hell just makes a mockery of what we believe. If a musician is in it just to be a musician, they should find another outlet. Music is a beautiful expression that can and does move us at a deep level. God did ask that we worship him with all our souls and emotions as well as the rest of us.

    • Sherri Hampton says:

      I appreciate your perspective, Jaimie, and have a lot of the same thoughts. Especially that whoever is on stage is being watched and there should be a standard of godliness.

      • Edward says:

        Those of us up front are sinners like everyone else. We can “paint our cup white” on the outside like Jesus said about the Pharisees, but we’re still sinners. Anyone who looks to us musicians for “holiness” are looking at the wrong thing. You should be looking to Jesus for that. We’re not worthy.

        I have been a Christian musician in church for all my life, and I’ve never considered myself to be anything more than a dude who God has given musical talent to. I’m blessed to be able to use that talent to make music to and for God, but to think I have some kind of “anointing” is folly.

        I need Jesus just as much as anyone in the congregation. (And they’re a congregation, not an audience!!) And I have to slay the dragon (the pride I take in my musical talent) every day.

        Please stop putting us musicians up on a “platform”, thanks.

    • R. Case says:

      Being ‘above reproach’ seems to equal being ‘perfect’ or filling Jesus’ shoes.

      No one should try to fill Jesus’ shoes, he already did it, and did it perfectly.

      Would you rather have someone who is honest with their life struggles, but loves God, the people around them, and is kind lead the church?

      or…

      Would you have someone who appears to not sin at all every single day out of the year?

      “If we claim to have not sinned, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

      We all sin on a daily basis. Not one person is righteous of their own doing, we are because of the blood of Christ. Nothing you can do can ever equal or repay the blood of Jesus. No matter how hard you try, you can’t possibly say the right thing or do the right thing to every single person or your neighbor and your own family day in and day out. You will fail. But the blood of Jesus covers all faults and sins. It’s not a safety net, it’s an encompassing and compassionate out and out full search and rescue team for you every single day. The truth is, without him, we’re drowning surrounded by sharks and there’s no dry land.

      We can’t hold people to a standard we can’t keep ourselves.

  22. Justin says:

    I understand the sentiment of this article, but the abundance of bitterness and church-bashing is a bit much. Clearly there is some beneficial truth in the article, but be careful going on such a rant. A lot of this is misguiding & negative. Wondering how much good will result from such a negative, bitter, church-bashing article.

    • R. Case says:

      A lot of what Jesus said about the Pharisees and the Sadducees could be considered ‘church bashing’ and ‘negative.’

  23. Maureen says:

    I think what you wrote about worship and worship music in churches today is very true – our focus in worship must be on Jesus! You can worship Jesus without music. You can praise him just by shouting His Name! You can do so much without words! The music is a mode of expression – but I think you are correct that we have not quite reached the level of worship desired in our everyday lives. Worship is a lifestyle – not just songs we sing on a Sunday.

  24. Neil Cadman says:

    While I think that there are some important truths in this article, nevertheless I disagree on several points. Firstly singers must be godly to be able to fulfill the following, “… I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” 1Co 14:15 Men do love singing, but they do not like submitting to a worship leader who often is often bullying the people to sing hi/her way and is not in the Spirit. He is is insisting that people idolise him/her. Many cannot sing at all and just imitate rock stars. They do not like submitting to foolish repetitive songs that have no content but are just mantras. Men will sing traditional hymns sincerely and are one of the main reasons they go to Church.Sound Biblical preaching, praying and singing all edify, drawing one closer to God.
    A sound Protestant Church does appeal to men because it is manly. The Roman Catholic Church is a woman’s church. probably also the Charismatic Churches because they are based on outward appearances and women are more likely to do anything to be noticed. Many of these churches are just pick up churches.

  25. Adrienne says:

    I grew up in the LDS church, where they focus on reverence. Traditional hymns. Its all I knew. I always wanted to experience a christian church. Experience the “worship”. Being a singer myself, I was excited to “feel the spirit” through a different musical experience. Although it was impressive, and fun, I found that I prefer the reverent worship instead.. Its definately slower paced, not as fun, and not a big production. But its what I prefer. I wear a dress, sing hymns, and I love it. These are all opinions. What works for some, may not work for others. I say, if you feel closer to god rockin’ out.. rock out. If you feel closer to god singing, How Great Thou Art … then that’s fine too. To each his own. God loves us all the same.

  26. Jacob Kristensen says:

    I agree on most parts in this blog post, and this is also something that has occupied my mind as of late.

    The highest form of worship is likely to do the will of god, and that can also include singing.

  27. phyllis says:

    I have always thought that I was sinning because I felt that the music was to long. My daughter also refuses to attend church because of the music. This is the first time I have hear a pastor talk the truth about music in the church. Most churches put on such a concert that it takes away the real feeling of why you are there in the first place. My main desire is to hear the word of God. I want to hear the teachings of the Bible. I went to hear Joyce Meyer and this woman that was sitting next to me kept saying and repeating, ” teach us, teach us.” She wanted to hear her preach the word, and stop the joking and singing. I want to hear the word of God and what it teaches. I also do not like the way some singers dress. Maybe I am old fashion but I think the performers should dress appropriate, sexy dresses, tight pants, are inappropriate. These young
    performers need a lesson on how to dress. I would always go to church late because I can not sit for half an hour standing and listening to music. I would usually read my bible while the music was playing. My family would look down on me for being late all the time. I am in another church and they only play three songs and then the sermon starts, and most of the time the preaching is great!!!

    Phyllis

  28. anna says:

    i like your way its quite different from what we have here in pakistan. i am lookin forward to watch your more videos

  29. Chris Spark says:

    There were some valid points in this article – one charismatic church in the UK said they now practised a six-fold ministry, including the worship leader, but thankfully cases like these are rare. However, to suggest as some of your previous comments do, that your article is “filled with truth” is a step too far for me.

    Essentially your main concern is that some of the things practised in “worship” are not found in any depth in the new testament. However, a lack of evidence for something is not a very sound case for evidence against it.

    For example, 30, 40 or 60 minutes of singing is not seen in the NT, but neither is 30, 40 or 60 minutes of listening to a preacher. In fact, the word preacher only occurs once in the whole new testament and is a description of Noah in 2 Peter 2 – so let’s not have preachers using your logic. There is only one reference to pastors, yet many churches are led a a pastor – hardly a biblical model!

    There are 139 references to teacher(s), so they must be ok – but several of these are OT, and all but about six are about teachers of the law opposing Jesus or his followers. One particularly long sermon resulted in someone falling asleep, falling out of a window and dying – hardly an anointed message! Three occurrences of evangelists just about equals the references to singing, so using the same logic, they are out too. Then let’s get started on tithing, meeting on a Sunday (one reference) and what communion actually was, and very soon, we will have written off just about every church practice we indulge in!

    My own understanding of all this is simple – worship in the OT was joyful, loud, awe-inspiring, reverend and glorious – worship in the NT ought to be even more so.

  30. Sherri Hampton says:

    First let me say that I agree 100% with this article. I am a musician too, and appreciate the perspective here. It needs to be said! My only thought I’d like to add is that there should be some sort of spiritual standard for the music leaders in the church, because they are leading God’s people in an expression of worship. Not the only kind, I agree. But I get so frustrated and tired of all the flirtation and carnality I see “behind the scenes.” While these folks certainly shouldn’t be put on an unrealistic pedestal (which I know they already are), they should be held to some sort of standard by church leaders (especially the main music leader). Psalm 101:5-6 “…whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure. My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; He whose walk is blameless will minister to me.” Music in church is a form of ministry, tho not as “lofty” as our culture makes it, and leaders of any kind in the church should have a true heart for the Lord.

  31. Christian Winther says:

    Interesting article.
    About Men and Church – Hymns vs psalms
    I used to sing and Bach made some good scores for Bas singers, it seems to me that a lot of modern praise music written for a tenor voice or female front singers, but I have experienced, songs at services where you just want to shout (sing) all your lunges can do and there is no concern if we hit the clear tune. This is a masculine type praise that I like. But how is this type of singing established ? Now I’m doing sound in hour church, so the sound volume, the song, the effects, the tempo, the amount of front singers? and so on. Can you give a suggestion on how to make this work. ?

  32. andy says:

    I fully agree. It has bugged me for a long time, some things i could put a tag on, so it’s not all new.
    i’d suggest a point 5: some of the lyrics have phony theology, a lot of it very me/man-centered or me/man serving
    and we’re much more prone to remember lyrics than sermons
    sometimes i catch myself humming songs I KNOW are off theologically; can anyone relate?
    fully agree with the description of role and requirements of music leader(s)
    the “worship leader” is given very much stage time, but in my experience is often poorly prepared
    that might be part of why so many lyrics focus on me and not God
    brave of you Mark, guess some of us will appreciate it
    and some will just love it

  33. Kenn says:

    Mark is correctly scratching at the surface of a large underlying problem. Reading ‘Pagan Christianity?’ by Frank Viola opens one’s eyes to see the enormity of our deceptions.

  34. Mark says:

    I completely agree! My church’s version of singing seems to focus much more on the PERFORMANCE of the worship leader and choir than on actual worship.
    However, there is one aspect of the modern church song service that you failed to mention. Volume. I have had the opportunity to visit a number of churches over the past few years and speak about a specific ministry. Now I grew up with rock music. Music does not have be be quiet for me to enjoy it. But it seems that modern churches are not happy unless the music vibrates you out of the seat. I take ear plugs to church and the music is still too loud. Turn it down people!

  35. Shelly says:

    I have heard my own worship leader get flack over me liking this article on Facebook. I won’t apologize for my preference or cave to the pressure of others. But what I get from what they said, is that their heart is being challenged on what their heart condition really is. I agree pretty much with this article; maybe about them men not wanting to worship…not so much by my experience. The men I am around have a heart to worship and it blesses me all the time. But everyone has an opinion, not everyone will agree with you. My heart is to worship my God. For me…the loud noise…the bone rattling bass and the screeching into the microphone just doesn’t do it for me. It pulls me out of worship and makes me want to leave church. I wear earplugs 89% of the time, so I can tolerate the noise, but sometimes I am driven out of the sanctuary because it becomes so physically painful I can’t be there. How can someone worship God in a setting that pain is force ably driven into your body against your will? How come worship has become a painful experience for the sake of “keeping up with the times?” I can see why most of the older generations have left the church to worship in their homes. We are separating the congregations by doing different kinds of worship services; and thereby loosing the unified body of Christ because of music. Please get back to bringing the volume down to a reasonable level and lowering the bass to a tolerable level. Then everyone can worship together as it was meant to be. And then we won’t need healing for our hearing in the future!

  36. LEGEJU M EFUETNKENG says:

    in worship, not only do we revere God; we do extol him for who we know him to be and also, we express our deep love and emotions for him.
    these realities and affections are expressed in our own words. these words can go on forever so long as we have breath and a host of them.there is no harm putting these words in music and singing them for endless ages.
    worship in a service is collective and individual at a time. meaning if Mr. A is tired of singing, he can yet pray or meditate while the rest of his brethren get lost in God through their music.
    talking about prayers, they can be sung too.thanks giving and appreciations, adoration, confession or supplication.
    the songs do not offend the most high.
    besides adoration is a deep admiration and affection which is the source of heart felt emotional expressions that many at times are sung in our worship services.
    besides i will want to categorically say here that the fact that most of our worship leaders are not upright doesn’t mean it can be normal or should be so.
    God does not take pleasure in every melody.check out Amos 5:23 -24 “Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. 24″But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.…”
    let us allow Gods people worship him as the Spirit leads them Rom 8:14. not as we think they should.
    BLESSINGS

  37. Brian Nelmes says:

    Mark,

    I enjoyed reading your article. I have been struggling with this pattern of worship and this unscriptural elevation of the worship leader. As a pastor of a church I have to deal with the pre-Madonna’s and those who take ownership of the worship. You mentioned your men’s conf. with no singing….what alternatives to singing do you use?

    brian

  38. Lynette says:

    One thing you forgot to mention Mark, is the dressing of the worship team. Tight fitting clothes, cleavage… I often wonder whether people do get distracted by this fashion show. Is the worship team drawing people’s attention to God or to their clothes, sense of style or bodies??? Confusing

  39. brian says:

    so instead of being like a lot of pastors and just putting a problem out there… do you have a solution?
    a solution for all the career worship pastors? and worship bands?
    are worship pastors in sin?

  40. Pastor Dan,D.Th. says:

    Dear Mark,

    I would agree with the initial statement. One of the original words for worship in the bible in Ancient Hebrew is shehhah. In our modern western culture worship is an action directed toward God and God alone.

    But this is not the case in the Hebrew Bible. The word shehhah is a common Hebrew word meaning to prostrate oneself before another in respect. We see Moses doing this to his father in law in Exodus 18:7. When the translators translate the word shehhah they will use the word “worship” when the bowing down is directed toward God but as “obeisance” or other equivalent word when directed toward another man.

    There is no Hebrew word meaning worship in the sense that we are used to using it in our culture today. From a Hebraic perspective worship, or shehhah is the act of getting down on ones knees and placing the face down on the ground before another worthy of respect.

    BUT…

    I would totally challenge and disagree with the thought that discounts a form of shehhah utilizing a “Baring your soul” through music and even dance. This is a very biblical way to prostrate oneself before another in respect in a spiritual sense from a Hebraic perspective. To believe the way you conveyed your thoughts would be to throw out the Psalms, Proverbs, and much of the Priesthood of David including David.

    The heart of God is to use those things that draw mankind closer to Him into relationship with Him. Music is a language that can and does do this. I would agree to disagree with your position as I feel it is exegetically incorrect. Thanks for your thoughts though. Be blessed.

  41. Lisa Reyes-Smith says:

    I am so glad that I had a chance to read this, I am struggling with the worship this at our church, we are a new plant that just had our first service on January 19th 2014, but before this my husband was called by God to leave a our big church to a very small one and having to adjust to quite a bit of changes one being the music. I am not music leader, I cannot read music I just sang in a choir for 4 years in our old church and was lead to do music for this church. I have not a clue and really getting stressed out, I have a man that is willing to help, but here is already and issue about hymns vs contemporary, so please allow me to get any help from you that I can. Thanks

    Lisa Reyes-Smith

  42. Barbara says:

    AMEN. My husband and I are active, serving, “on fire” disciples, but we often decide to arrive late to church for just the reasons you mentioned: discouraging “worship”.

    I have been so frustrated with overuse of mediocre music during church services that I Googled “Do’s and Don’t for Worship” and pulled up this article. I read it through, agreeing with all you wrote, and only at the end did I realize YOU were the author…!( My husband and I are huge fans of your work. We own the “Laugh” DVD set and show them to friends regularly. We even have Flag pages. Like you, I’m from the FUN country.)

    Mark, I’m truly amazed that churches aren’t more aware of these issues and what a show it’s all become.

    We’ve visited at least 8 different churches in the last 6 years, and in my observation most of the “worship” sessions are about showcasing a mediocre (and too loud) band performance, which for me is a real distraction from connecting with God in a meaningful way.

    I’d even be glad to prayerfully sing along, if I could figure out the words or follow the toneless “melodies”. Seems most of the focus by the worship band is on what works for THEM, and not what works to bring the congregation to unity in the Spirit. I suppose the good ‘ole psalms and hymns many of us know and love are too simple and “old-fashioned” or “boring” for musicians these days. Too bad, as the sound of a cappella voices singing in harmony is deeply moving and unifying.

    As a communication professional, maybe I’m blessed (or cursed) to be more sensitive to what does – or doesn’t work to help build a bridge of personal communication with God, but I wonder if more pastors and churches are beginning to understand these issues? What kind of feedback have you gotten on this article from pastors?

    Thanks for your heart and your willingness to take risks and follow Christ!

  43. Jon says:

    Ok, I am a worship leader at a church of about 150. I do share some of these thoughts, but certainly not all. I believe we need to look at what scripture says about worship. What is worship??
    Worship honors God, it is directed toward God, and it requires involvement. True worship requires us to lower our selves, and raise up God. I agree with the fact most people consider singing worship. This is were teaching from the worship leader or pastor has to teach what true worship is. I understand most people like to sing as a form of worship, I do to. However, I tell the congregation that we need to worship every day, not just on sundays. We worship as we pray, we worship when we get in Gods word, when we have oppertunity to witness, and we feel the Holy Spirit giving us the words to say. It is a personal relationship with our Lord.
    We are commanded to worship in spirit and truth, john 4:22-24.
    “You worship what you do not know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
    We are also told in Mark 12:30 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strenth” that sounds pretty heartfelt to me. And in corporate worship time I believe we should have this.
    Now I do believe it that there needs to be a balance of contemporary songs and Hyams. There are also many contemporary songs I will not do during worship time because I dont see it is scriptual.
    As a worship leader, it is my job to teach what true scriptural worship really is. It is all about Christ, not me, not music, not the pastor. Christ. I am just a servant helping those who have come, to come into the presence of the Lord, Through song, and prayer, and Gods word. It is your personal relationship with the Lord that will allow you to come into His presence.
    Others have mentioned the lenth of worshop time and dress code.
    For me, I play 4 songs before preaching time, and 1 at the end. I find this to work well. And dress code, we have a fairly modest dress code, I belive we are to set an example as worship leaders. I can say that if someone came dressed provocitvly, I would not let them play. I dont believe in being legalistic, I came from a church that was legalistic, I want to serve a church that is scriptual.
    “Only let your your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel”Phil 1:27
    “I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit.” Eph 4:1-3
    May God bless.
    Jon

  44. Kathy says:

    I came across your page and read it.
    I have had my eyes, ears and heart opened up due to our worship leader. This has truly changed my life. By seeing him pour his heart and love for Jesus out with such passion, it’s not a show it’s pure from the heart and I am so grateful God has used him to show me. I guess I am different, I give, serve pray and worship.
    Have a Blessed Day

  45. Herman Bradley says:

    I can see clear the point you make about music in the context of statements you mention! I can appreciate your observations …. So then what is the biblical definition of worship? Would like at some point your take on worship in Spirit and Truth!
    Thanks
    Herman

  46. Cindy says:

    I agree with this article – my husband doesn’t like to go to church because the “worship” (singing) lasts so long. There were five looooong songs yesterday and I feel like you’re expected to sing along and stand the whole time. It’s an ordeal for me, partly because of hearing problems which make all the musical instruments sound like a jumble of noise and also because I can’t carry a tune in any case.

  47. Hans beck says:

    Look, l agree. Worship is not a fast or slow song – strings, or even raising ones hands, it’s an outward expression of what’s going on in the heart. ” out of the abundance of the heart ……..”
    I worship my God because l love Him.
    Great article.

  48. Adam says:

    Only a fool complains and doesn’t give a correct response in how to worship “the bible way”. If your have the correct way to worship then explain??? Don’t just be critical because your annoyed by how others worship. In order for others to learn you must teach the correct biblical way to worship so all may understand. All you did is prove that you can murmur and complain. Philippians 2:14

    • R. Case says:

      I believe he is stating the problems.

      The solution is implied.

      Per section of the blog here and the correct response:

      1: Worship is more than singing songs, it’s how you live your life.

      2: Don’t put the worship leader on a pedestal. Pretty simple.

      3: Singing in church doesn’t make you a better Christian, grace and mercy come from the gift within Jesus Christ. Your atonement is within the blood of Jesus, not whether or not you sing during ‘worship’.

      4: Dudes don’t like to sing a whole lot. Do one song. You’ll probably compromise and do three, but if the blogger said three, you’d do seven.

      I hope that has helped you find the solutions, although they are probably not the ones you were looking for.

  49. Precious says:

    Thank you very much Mark for clearing things up.Jesus says we shall know the truth and it shall set us free.We indeed do have the wrong view of worship,i am part of the worship team in my church and yes i do also get to ‘lead’ worship now n then,my challenge has always been that we are result attached and expect people to be rolling on the floor and falling off of their seats and when that doesnt happen it is sugested that ‘worship wasnt anointed’ that day,and that is a result of someone eithr in the team or the leader itsel is ‘unclean’ thats y the ‘Holy Spirit’ couldnt move or flow freely.This realy sets me free and removes that pressure to ‘out perform’ anyone.Thank you

  50. Nicon says:

    Hi, I am from Guyana, SA and I just came across this article and I must say it is speaking my thoughts. I have been in and still is in the Worship ministry over fifteen years and I have these concerns myself. Though this is certainly not the case for all Churches, I am concern that people are placing more emphasis on Worship leaders or great songs or fancy songs and GOD seems not to be the Object of focused attention. Blessings!

  51. anonymous says:

    I happen to disagree with point number 2 and 3. Depending on the worship leader, they actually make it easier to worship God. You can have somebody that is a great singer but there is no anointing, as well as you can have a not so great singer and the anointing of God falls. When somebody gets on stage to sing (unsaved) and people begin to raise their hands and worship, like you said it’ll be because of their personal relationship with God and of course the real Christians will worship in spite of, but it will be evident when a “Real Christian” gets on stage and begins to minister through song because the whole atmosphere changes. It is evident when the Holy Spirit resides in a person. You will see it when they sing, dance, preach etc. A worship leader has an anointing of their own aside from the pastor and they are still vital to the body of Christ because they even make it easier for the pastor to bring forth the word.

    • R. Case says:

      It’s not the singer, it’s the relationship between the congregation and God. Probably on that day,the people were more open to God and his communion with them, it has nothing to do with the singer. I’ve seen people led by some of the most koo koo christians and the ‘annointing’ falls, let’s just say that God visits the congregation in a profound way as a whole. It has NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING to do with the singer. It is wholly based on the individual’s relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m going to blow your mind, you can have a profound relationship with Jesus outside of church. Yep, that’s the truth. There’s a reason the veil ripped when Jesus was sacrificed. You don’t have to go through a priest anymore to reach God. He’s not contained behind a curtain in some building, he is with us. You don’t have to have the pastor’s approval to serve God, your act of worship is how you live and commune with Jesus Christ and the people around you. He never leaves us, is always there, he sees everything. The only thing that stops us from being with him, is whether or not we choose to accept the gift of sacrifice. That’s the truth that scares the crap out of pastors, and yet is the fundamental glue for Christians. Yes, we need each other, but we depend upon Him.

  52. JANE says:

    john 4:24

    God is spirit and so His worshipers must worship Him in spirit and in truth!!

    we are not just to sing, we are to worship!

    God is looking down from heaven if who really is worshiping Him in spirit.

    • R. Case says:

      I think you miss the point of Immanuel. God is with us, not looking down on us. He is here amongst us, living in those who have accepted his sacrifice. Jesus is with us, not apart, but the Holy Spirit is with us. If you have stated that Jesus is Lord, believed in your heart and confessed with your mouth, he isn’t on some cloud, he’s with you, always.

  53. Calvin says:

    Amen brother amen, I thought my wife and I were the only ones left who understands that worship is not music. I am a musicians too and have played in many Church services. But that’s is because I can play with skill. Every time I read what Abraham said to his servant, “wait here while I and the lad go worship” I have never heard Abraham say let’s sing a few tunes first. He was about to cut off the head of his son as an act of worship. I will share this article in many places. Thank you for being obedient and speaking the truth. Calvin Hogue D.D. pastor of LyfeMinistries

  54. Don Dudley says:

    Hey Dude

    You are so right on with this, it sounds like you been hanging around with me and the Holy Spirit. You have voiced my very sentiments, you must be part of the remnant.

  55. Clint says:

    I kinda agree with you although as a man I worship the Lord with song. David praised the Lord with music and many times in the Bible it talks of worshiping the Lord with music. David spoke about leading the procession before the Lord with music and of course His wife Tamar got jealous of the way he dan c ed before the Lord so I don’t know what to say. Yes God should be the center of anyone servings life. The heart is what matters and playing music is definitely a good way to serve the Lord but that’s just one aspect in a total walk for Christ. It has nothing to do with being a Christian but don’t think for a second that God doesn’t want and deserve amazing music because He does. He created I it. Christian music is vastly under utilized as far as the potential in my opinion. People always under achieve at it. Maybe that’s because all of the really talented go secular but God surely would want amazing music from a true worshipers heart. At least I think so

    • judy says:

      I agree. What do you think of someone who is part of the worship group and sing just to look good. Gets up when they want and say today I don’t feel like singing and sit… Isn’t this absurd …. It is a bad idea of what a worshiper is to other sisters and brothers isn’t it? I’ve got upset because being a worshier isn’t something you want to do one day and the next you act cold and tell ppl its not something you want today… Respond pls. Thank you. Loved what you posted.

  56. Jan says:

    This is a great insight. It is also very humbling. I’m a worship “leader” in my church, and have made my living in cover bands all my life (which I still do).
    I was just thinking today that people finding their way to God is kind of like a maze, and we can either help point people to Jesus, or distract them into a dead end — if my band has a good gig, or even if people really like the worship team & myself, I wonder if they’re focusing too much on the band or team, rather than God. I’m still trying to figure out how to gently accept a compliment but keep the focus on the Lord. (just a side note, you’d be surprised how many people like talking about God in bars, and appreciate being prayed for.)
    Thanks for opening my eyes to a new way of thinking about this!

  57. Haru says:

    “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.”
    Romans 14:13-14
    ” because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
    Romans 14:18-19

    I have nothing against anyone or anything in this site. What bothers me is when I read some comments that sometimes lead to harsh arguments. I believe that true worship is being able to live in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Thus, we should not pass judgment to however we prefer to worship our God. Remember, brothers and sisters, take what it is good and leave what is not. Everyone has a point, we just need to see it, live it. There is no need for fights and arguments. Let everything that we do be done in love, for our God is love. God bless everyone.

  58. judy says:

    Hi mark, first thank you for posting. It is true I was part of the worship group at a church in ca I use to go. Now we have moved to another state it. And at this chur h I have been attending. The pastors wife and my family have talked about me serving here which is great but not too long ago. They separated me and told me that I have a nice voice but do not meet their expectations.. I have never heard of this…I was crushed because I didn’t know to worship god I had to have standards.. It is heart breaking.. Totally misinterpret who God finds a worshiper.

  59. Sharon Potter says:

    I love your music is not worship blog. I want to print it and share. I don’t see a print button to click.

    I really wanted to say RIGHT ON !!! Bring back real worship.

  60. Errol Oscar says:

    We must continue practicing and enjoying worship through music as this is what we will do in heaven all day, all night.
    After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “ ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:1-11 NIV)

  61. Chetachukwu says:

    Mehn…I don’t know what we’re saying, really. Can we just leave these matters that don’t matter and keep winning souls to the Kingdom, whether you’re a singer or not, we one time or the other sin against God… and His Anointing still works, which explains the fact that only those that DO THE WILL OF GOD will enter His kingdom.
    Please, I beg us to love everything that pronounces Jesus as Lord and promotes trust and obedience to God. Singing is a gift of ministry please, it’s in the bible…1Cor12:5″there are different ministries but one Lord” if i have the grace to minister or preach in psalms and spiritual songs, and win souls unto God, what is the question of whether singing is a gift or not? and the Celine Dion play cannot happen…people’s emotions might be manipulated but their souls can’t be changed, this is only done by the Holy Spirit! No matter how good you are musically, you can never do exploits in God’s kingdom if His anointing for that “Ministry” doesn’t rest on you, we are on different callings to different ministries for the sole purpose of evangelism and revival of the church by one Spirit!
    If we have no love, we are nothing however so please eliminate a this disguised antagonism towards worship leaders or singers PLEASE! God bless you brethren, Amen.

  62. dutchjuice says:

    Wow, a mens gathering without singing??
    Sing unto the Lord a new song…
    Make a joyful noise unto the Lord…
    Enter His gates with thanksgiving…
    Come into His courts with praise…
    just to mention a few…

    David was a man after God’s own heart, he had musicians and singers 24 hours a day ministering to the Lord..

    Just the fact that some churches miss the mark on the essence of worship, doesn’t mean we can rob people from one of the most beautiful forms of worship…
    I guess you are creating “seeker friendly” mens gatherings?
    I like your raw style but with this is not one of your most successful blogs…

  63. Jamie says:

    I read this blog and thought about it for a week. I agree with some of the point of view, but not all of it. I recently read a book called “The Insanity of God”. The author of the book is a pastor and missionary who spent a number of years interviewing believers who live or lived under persecution. When reading their stories I was struck by how much singing and music was a part of their stories. I think about a man in Russia who was imprisoned for spreading the gospel during the Soviet era. He was put into one of the worst prisons with 1500 hardened criminals. The first thing Dimitri did every morning was to sing a “heart song” to God. The other prisoners would throw feces at him and hurl insults. The guards would beat him. He did this faithfully for 17 years! At a particularly difficult time far into his imprisonment, the guards were going to march him out to shoot him. As they were taking him out all 1500 prisoners stood to attention and began singing Dimitri’s heartsong. The guards were so shook up by this that they took him back to his cell and he lived on to tell his story. I think of another Russian who composed 600 praise songs in prison, songs that are sung by believers in Russia today. I also think about a Muslim person who received a vision from Jesus and found the other believers after overhearing hymns being sung inside an orphanage he was passing by. Music can be a great comfort in suffering and a powerful witness. It is also an expression of praise and worship that has the power to reach the heart in ways that words cannot. It is also an act of surrender and submission to God. Maybe that is why some of us men are uncomfortable with it. The angels in heaven express worship to God through singing. Music and song like almost every good thing can be corrupted, but I don’t think we should stop singing to our Lord because of that. If you don’t like the worship songs on a particular week, sing your own heart song to God next to your bed.

  64. Fayb says:

    Firstly let me say altough i really nonreally like music and could dance all nite im neither amuscian nor singer so inhave no expert knowledge onMusic except i know my notes sound tone accustic acopella etc iv a natraul ear for.music nd can know when u new song out will be a hit idk how perhaps it jus my natral instinct or being dyslexsic lol but yes im dyslesic perhaps the spelling nd grammar gives it away. Oh well so be it!look at. themany talented dyslesics Steve jobs ,Ford, Casuius Clay Owner of Ikea. Sorry stray of point jus a tad. So i come to my point. Yes i do think that Worship is not music nd singling.alonre but ot has its place. Like whdn giving Thanks nd Praise to Gods Holy Name. I aslo thing that expression of Heart. Of joy.is also a.part of the Worship . However it may just come.to this Its not what we but how we do it I attend both pentecostal chjrch and Ur British more reserve style of worship church and i do think how we Worship is or cannbe a cultueral thing. The Britss on a whole are mostly a reserve bunch English British i mean its not lkie the states onece u born in America youbare American Be ot A African or Asian American im afraid in England if u happem tonbe of .lets say Caribbean decsent but in born in England u classifed as British nf not English Yeah go.Figure.! Anyhow back to my point Just as in the rock style church concerts we sed .to day whichnare nondoubt attractimg a youngrr generation is that even in the less chararesmatic church you have a so called worship leaders that lead the “congregation” in to prayer or just berfore the Rev or Vicarcome to give his or her sermon. “Oh greay song wonderful oh such an anoiting great.man of God” nd i be like really how so then i say to self perhaps they know this guy or not..So my overall point is that it can.nd does happen nd not jus in the “Charamatic churchs but also in your more conventional nd.conservitive one. In fact i was a church that i happen to vist from time to time whee it was a little od more like a heavey rock in the sence of ahysteria reaction from particpant in the congrgation of which on.several.occasions id.icame.out service.into the lobby of which i sat down nd iask my self what are you doing here Fact.is.i lkie music i really enjoy a good sound hi.notes and all hey a lille bass can be good i guess what.im reallynsaying evrything in moderation right? Err.not so much like younsaid in ur blogg its about Worship nd what is worship Yes its reverance holy nf accetable before God Almighty i confess i ve cought up nd a little side tracked in thses Concert style of “so called worshil” becuse of the way music can nd does emote feeling of nostaglia elation Q Remains is to the Glory of God and is Our Lord getting his AirTtime. Or.on the eltated emotions of Music! As Christans shoudnt wr Worship in Truth.nd Sprit. Oh by the way icame upon ur site cuz i reallynbad bout being at.that service more so cuz i felf something in mybsprirt wasnt right nd felt.uncomfortanle for allowing.being there also inever did like the screaming nd very loud shouting and tje.running around the.Church as some pentecostal.or Chamsstic Churchs do.but also can get.boead with less up beat tempo Songs of praise but hey thats on.me but ones i really like thr best are the ispirational ones the ones where the singer.or songer writer has had a battle in life a struggle witj their Faith or converted drug dealer who life is demonstrated bynthe words of his or her song On How Christ saved How they came to know Christ where Christ is at The Centre of it all Where the Heavens Declare he is God nd The cryss out Hallujah songs like those pull at mynheart.strings lol Another.fav How Great Thou Art nd the Class8c Amazing Grace.So yh Lets back to Ita True Worship of God in Our Church Service nd.leave the Concert style Church service for excatlynthat A Gospel Concert.No probs tjere write. Oh by the way i found ur blogg intersting nd like icmat to this like late at nite infact after Church or shuld one say Church Service in Concert were thd.rasing of hand nd screaming nd jumping reminded you of a pop rock reaggae Gospel all rolled into one like Concert. SMH yep i had to askGod to forgive me.ijust felt something wasnt right.and iasked my self wasnit all about him did i reall Worship our Lord jesus christ or did i jus lev when the screams nd shouts got.loud.nd pplel started running around the.church .as.if something was chasing tbem or was it that ihad sensed that this wasnt Worshipnin Truth nd In Spirit.

  65. Erica says:

    I do agree that being on stage as a worship leader doesn’t make you more anointed or connected to God than another person, although i do strongly believe that those represented on stage should have a high level of commitment to their faith… they should mean what they are singing, as they are modeling worship connection, I believe that being authentic and believable is essential, which completely goes against what you said about musicians only needing skill and nothing more. Provocative and thought provoking.

  66. Dude says:

    Just because the Bible only records one incident of Jesus and the disciples singing a hymn, doesn’t necessarily mean that it only happened once. And nowhere does it say we should limit our worship to just one hymn.

  67. Zachary Smith says:

    I am a “worship leader” and I agree 100%. No wonder I have been feeling so fatigued lately. It’s all these unreasonable expectations and notions that I am dealing guilt over. It’s so much simpler to just call me the “lead singer guy”. That’s all I really want to be anyway. I don’t wake up with bluebirds on my shoulder a lot of the songs I write are about struggles not necessarily victories. I can’t sand to listen to music or listen to teachers for that matter that are 100% happy go lucky, soccer mom christian radio stations, etc. I learned a long time ago to stay away from people who have all the answers. Cut the crap and call it what it is guys. Our culture demands a rock show every Sunday. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that either, just do a good job and make sure it’s done to the best of your ability. If you don’t someone else will. Call it “An Evangelistic Presentation of Gospel Truths Through Music” if it makes you feel better. Don’t overspiritualize it either. If you want to truly worship, give up something and spend the day in prayer. I wish I could play music at this Gungor dude’s church! What a relief it would be. The people who are upset on here need to let go of pride thinking that they are more special than the door greeter or janitor.

  68. Zachary Smith says:

    Crap! I wish I had used spell check on my prior post. I was so charged up I clicked the submit button before reading what I had typed! Good thing some of our greatest Apostles were simple, ordinary, and uneducated men who/whom? had simply just spent time with Jesus.

  69. Kiriah C says:

    Gosh, this has been refreshing! Thank you for your honesty. I’ve been frustrated with my praise team for the same reasons. We children of God need to pray more. Praise teams sometimes causes people to become egotistical and proud. We forget our purpose. It’s not about us. It’s about Jesus.

  70. Angie says:

    I have grown up all of my life in small churches, as we moved from town to town. No one should be expected to give a show every Sunday or to live up to unreasonable expectations. However, eventhough no one is perfect whoever is going to lead the singing should have a sincere life of devotion before God. Can’t just say,”Hey folks, follow me as I, well, whatever with Christ. I can play and sing well. That’s not going to effect your worship today,” cause, eventually, it will effect something. I’ve seen it all too and I do believe that you can go from one extreme to another.

  71. Ian says:

    There should be NO STAGE, NO SPOTLIGHTS, NO HIGH VOLUME, and worship team members should dress decently. Actually, in church NO TIGHT PANTS OR REVEALING CLOTHES. NO ONE can tell me that they have NO PRIDE playing an instrument on a stage. Ur a liar. Put the worship team at the back. And play hymns as well as modern music. I would NEVER attend a church where the music is loud, and im a heavy metal drummer not an old person……… No wonder the church has no power. We have walked toooooo far down the road of comprimise….. “Come out from amoung them and be ye seperate from them” …….. Remember…?

  72. Ann says:

    Wow – lots of food for thought there and many points with which I agree. However I don’t agree that songs are getting higher and higher. Since we have access to CCLI’s Song Select and worship leaders can choose any key they like, female worship leaders in our church in the U.K. have followed the general trend against using head voice and we frequently find ourselves diving into nether regions below A. I long to be released back into the comfortable part of my voice between G a fifth above middle C up to D but it only happens when I am leading worship and then I get told off afterwards. We used to use that range all the time in the seventies before women started wanting to sound gutsy all the time.

    And in those days In the church we were part of, nobody led worship. People would start singing songs spontaneously from the congregation which was seated in a large, inward facing square. We would repeat songs a lot but somehow we always knew when we were singing the last repeat and would just stop. Worship was the only focus as nobody was in front ‘performing’. Even the musicians were scattered among the congregation.

    I played the piano sometimes in a corner of the square but was very much aware that my job was to follow the congregation rather than lead it. I have never known worship like it since. Even the preaching didn’t follow the normal pattern. Someone would stand up and share something for ten minutes, spontaneously, and someone else would start singing another song. Then someone would stand up and speak for twenty minutes – or one of the elders would hold the floor for a long sermon.

    It was like putting together the pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle – all the pieces seemed to fit together and by the end you would know exactly what God had been saying to you that morning. Just as though we were an orchestra being conducted by the Holy Spirit. It took a decade for us to adopt the present style of worship with worship leader and band, which might be musically very impressive but much easier to sing mindlesslywithout any real worship.

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