Monday, August 30, 2004

a great conversation about the worship in the emerging church...

here is a great thought-provoking post regarding the modern worship movement in the mainline and liberal traditions of america... but it got me thinking about the emerging church movement and how it is going to be hard to be deconstructing our theologies and even building new ones while still cuddling up to old worship favorites...

so, the challenge is finding/writing songs that will be more inclusive, that will perhaps ask questions, that will perhaps be more subversive, that will perhaps challenge people as opposed to just giving them answers... what about a song that recounts the places in scripture where different characters felt as though god had abandoned them... and the refrain could be 'god where are you? feeling so lost, feeling so numb... i thought you loved me, what am i to do?'...

perhaps that is a little too narcicistic (sp?)... but what about songs that really do affirm god's sense of justice and care for the oppressed?... ala, 'where the streets have no name' and dont just set it up as a song about 'what heaven will be like' (i have done this) but rather 'what god wants this world to look like?...

the modern worship movement panders to felt needs, either exclusive or sappy theology (i am guilty of this as a 'worship' songwriter), and simplicity that borders on naivity... perhaps we need some songs that challenge, broaden our minds, and recognize the complexity of our lives/situations...

perhaps mantras would be better suited?... or something other than music?... perhaps the 'modern worship movement' cannot be transformed into the 'postmodern worship movement'?... perhaps we are holding onto things like stained glass and hymnals by holding onto tomlin, hughes, and crowder?...

just thoughts, but i would love to hear anyone elses... this is a big deal for those of us who touch on 'worship ministries' in our churches... if we are to live by conscience and not be simple convenience, we must begin thinking about these things...

2 comments:

dave p said...

Just a few more thoughts transferring from Adam's blog and picking up some ideas here.

First, corporate worship songs have to be somewhat singable by Josephine Average, which limits the complexity you can build in somewhat. On the flip side, they don't have to be dumbed down to banal worship chorus level either.

Second, in a traditional song format (3-4 minutes, 2 or 3 verses) you can only express so many ideas and trying to communicate too much just muddies the water. And really, you can't stretch a song too far. However, that said, one of my favorite current worship songs is Dwell (Vineyard) which is very simple, has a pretty on target message, and lasts 8.5 minutes. It works really well even at that length because of the musical dynamics (moody atmospheric guitar - very cool).

Third, in larger corporate settings people like familiarity as a group. Introducing even a couple of new songs is always a challenge. The smaller the setting the easier it gets, but how small is that? And what if your setting is already bigger? Then there's just sheer familiarity. People love the songs that were meaningful to them around the time they grew up and/or made a serious commitment to Christ. They want to hear those, and on one hand I'd just as soon help drag them into the future, but on the other hand I respect why the songs are meaningful and powerful for them.

So given those constraints it makes life even more interesting. I think writing local songs is great (and one of our band does that quite well), but ignoring the best of what's out there (from whatever source) would be foolish, too.

Checking out the planning for Emergent Convention 05, it looks like there will be a lot of experimentation and at least a significant move away from worship leader as rock star. Looking forward to that...

Ryan Lee Sharp said...

some really good points... i definitely think that one of the 'goals' (if i may be so american) of a worship leader is to challenge his people in their understanding of god, what worship is, who we are in light of that, how we then interact with each other and the world...

while i think it is good to have familiar songs, i find so many people (myself included) who get in the rut of songs that were once fresh and new and insightful and challenging and hope-giving that are now just tunes that just take us to a place of 'better times'...

we must be able to take our community new places, and this calls for new journals of our faith... and that plays out in new expressions in music... right?...

ah, the challenge of leaving the stale to embrace the fresh, while not sacrificing the soul... hmm...