Noble thoughts on worship – part 2

Posted: September 6, 2007 in Church, Music, Perspective

I’ve been thinking more about Perry Noble’s blog post, “8 things I think every worship leader should know.”  His 8th point, in particular, comes from his (NewSpring’s) worship leader, Lee McDerment:

#8 – Place God’s dream before your own.

The church is God’s dream…not your worship album! Jump into a local church and build something eternal instead of being so freakishly obsessed with you!!! Lee and I have met so many talented musicians who spend time trying to “make it” when they should be partnering with the church in developing fully devoted followers of Jesus.

I had a conversation recently with a band member about this very thing.  He and I were discussing the personal musical ambitions of friends who wanted to pour all kinds of time into their own individual “Christian” bands.  These guys spend a lot of time writing songs, practicing together, and dreaming of – ultimately – “making it big” as musicians.  The band member I was talking to was even asked by some of them to skip out on his Sunday morning responsibility to play for us so he could go record with them in the studio.  “That’s what I’d do,” they said.

Fortunately, this guy is so committed to what we do that he won’t be skipping out on us any time soon.

As I sit here reflecting on this conversation and the post in Perry’s blog, a few questions come to mind: 

  • What if we poured our time and energy into the worship band at church just a fraction of the time and energy that we want to pour into things of our own ambitions – whether it’s music, photography, gaming, surfing the internet, or simply goofing off? 
  • What if the church’s ambition – to reach people for Jesus Christ in the most creative, innovative, and effective ways possible – became OUR ambition?
  • What if we owned the vision?
  • What if we merged our creative energies and processes (practicing, songwriting, studio time, etc.) with those of the church?

What I’m talking is what Lee/Perry said:  “Partnering with the church in developing fully devoted followers of Jesus.”

That doesn’t mean I’m against people’s personal projects.  I myself was involved in a high school “Christian heavy metal” band my junior and senior years in high school.  It was fun.  It was part of my musical experience and the learning process of working/playing with others.  Besides, girls liked guys who played in bands, and since I was too scrawny for sports, that was my only real option!  So, in no way am I suggesting that such things are ‘wrong’ or something like that.

However, I also think it’s fair to ask the questions I just asked – especially considering that the real odds of “making it” (or even making an impact) as a musician are pretty slim.  So – what if people, instead of pursing their own personal interests, dared to partner with the church to make Jesus famous?

… 

I think this “partnership” doesn’t come naturally to people for a couple of reasons (and I’m really speaking to Christians here).  First, there’s still a mindset in our culture that our church “life”and our personal “life” are separate things.  In a consumer-driven culture, church is something you go and do for an hour on Sunday morning (and maybe another hour during the week for small group or mid-week service if you’re really spiritual).  We consume the experience like getting a #5 value meal at the McDonald’s drive-thru.  Unfortunately, when we view church this way we miss out on the possibility that church is meant to be something much more.  It is meant to be a family of people working to carry on Christ’s work in the world.  Consider Acts 2:42-47:

 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Now that’s a group of people sharing life together and working hard together.  Church for them is not a commodity or even a religious exercise.  Church – their community – defined who they were and what they were doing – serving God together in love.  Their personal life WAS their church life!  And God blessed them by adding to their numbers.

Imagine what would happen if people today embodied that kind of thinking.  What if our entire lives – including our talents and ambitions  – were caught up in Jesus and his mission to save the world?

 …

Another obstacle to making God’s agenda a priority over our own is our own selfishness.  In some way, we may purposefully or inadvertantly seek personal fame and/or fortune in such a way that God really is not our target.  What we think may be our own personal “music ministry” may, in fact, be nothing more than an “American Idol-like” ambition to attract attention under the guise of being a “Christian” or worship performer.  It’s one thing to glorify God; it’s quite another to glorify ourselves.

I think this especially tough for people who play onstage somewhere or dream of playing onstage.  It’s easy to fall into some sort of “rock star” trap where you think people are there to see you.  After all, you’re the one holding the guitar or singing or playing the drums.  When the crowd applauds, you feel good.  When everything’s ‘clicking’ it’s easy to think you’re the next best thing since Eddie Van Halen played Eruption live onstage.  Dreams of having your own CDs and crowds of people spending money to see you in concert may even pop into your head.  When I’m caught up in the euphoria of the moment, it might be easy to think I’m some sort of finalist on “Crosspoint Idol” and all the people in the room are my “fans.”

Um…no.  It’s about God, not me.

To those ambitious-types out there, I pose one question:  “Do you want people to see you or do you want them to see Jesus?”  We’re there to glorify God.  If you’ve got talent, make this your dream, too – to see God glorified!

If you partner with the church – make God’s agenda your agenda – then, maybe, your music/talent could touch more people’s lives than you thought possible – not because you’re super-talented and ‘rock-star-worthy,’ but because your talent and the talents of many others all working together helped make a difference.

… 

As always, I appreciate what the guys/girls in our band contribute every week.  Nothing I’ve said here is meant to imply I see this as a problem with someone who already serves.  However, I do wonder how many people out there “doing their own thing” have not yet stepped up to serve and share their talents to help reach people and make them fully devoted followers of Jesus?

I challenge you to make God’s agenda your agenda.

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