Each Wednesday in What Memes Mean, Kirk Bozeman questions the significance, humor, and subtexts of viral videos, memes, and other Internet fads.
Modern worship leaders have a knack for incessantly reminding congregations that real worship is more than just cool music and singing songs on Sundays, which is the general message of this video. Sometimes these reminders are a constant thread in morning worship diatribes, with Romans 12:1 reluctantly breaking its way in towards the end. I’ve often wondered if worship leaders realize how ironic they sound when they say these sorts of things, and if they worry at all that they may eventually argue themselves out of a job (because they basically just help us sing songs on Sundays).
I think the point these worship leaders are trying to make is, “There is a danger here that you will simply sing songs on Sundays that make you feel good, but then leave here and do as you please. All of your life is worship.” This is valid, and at some point we all need to hear this. However there is a danger that, in this discussion, the word “worship” gets muddled and slung about between contexts until I’m not sure we’re really saying anything that makes sense. Are we talking about singing or actions, or both? How does singing connect with the rest of our lives, and in what way? I’ll give a bit of my view, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Music is a unique and strange thing in itself, and singing with a crowd to the God invisible is even stranger. Congregational worship is unavoidably a somewhat passive experience, an act of personal listening and enjoying as well as participating. This is not like most actions, it doesn’t really “connect” with them on the same level, and I would say music is in a class by itself. It is certainly in the context of “all of life”, and the usual “all of life” rules apply – “all of life” should be lived to the glory of God. But it’s not fair to place it side-by-side with the daily grind. It is too unique, transcendent, and strange an activity to be treated the same way as these other things. It has its own set of problems, as well as its own set of joys, all of which could be explored in-depth.
I disagree with some of the thinking behind this video, though I can’t disagree with some of its implications. It’s not that we think too highly of music at the expense of our sanctification, it’s that we don’t think highly enough of it, or at least don’t view it correctly. All of life is to be lived to God’s glory, we aren’t to simply sing songs to feel good, but we should emphasize that singing songs holds a unique place among life’s God-glorifying activities.
There is still more thinking to be done on worship music. Some of these thoughts so far may be considered simple reflections, but I’ll stick by the idea that music is inherently different than most actions. The strange (and beautiful) grace of music is something to be treated with reverence and sanctity – biblically, it will be a constant part of heaven. Let music be music, let pepole sing because it’s fun. It’s not like our other activity, stop muddling it in with everything else.