1. Worship is the music. Worship is our obedient response to God’s nature and character; that response can be with or without music. Limiting worship to music implies that those who aren’t so musically inclined can’t really worship. We are commanded to worship, and God would not command what He would not equip us to do. Praying, giving, hearing God’s Word, and much more are all a part of worship.
2. Being able to play and instrument and sing makes one a “Worship Leader.” Many times people are thrust into a position out of necessity, whether or not they are prepared. Fortunately, training exists for these impromptu leaders, but if all that happens is filling the position without a biblical understanding of what worship is and isn’t, how what they do fits into worship, and how personal purity and growth in their spiritual life is an integral part of the whole, then the person may only be filling a position, but not really fulfilling the role of a worship leader.
3. The groups up front are performing, the congregation is the audience. Worship is not entertainment, since the focus of entertainment is pleasing the listener, but the focus of worship is pleasing God. Entertainment and worship are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The purpose of worship is God-centered, giving glory to God alone.
4. “After we use a song for a while, we burn it and look for another.” The danger here is a lack of understanding of the biblical mandate in Colossians 3:16 of using music to teach. It is great to learn new songs, but not to use only new songs. Singing only the “latest & greatest” generally misses the fullness of expression of doctrine and is narrow in focus. We learn by repetition over a long period of time. There must be a building of a congregational memory of songs that they can sing by heart and express the fullness of our faith. Multigenerational worship is more than just young and old singing the same songs; but each generation mixing life together in all the aspects of corporate worship over time.
5. “I can do what needs to be done; I don’t need to.... anymore.” The absence of a teachable spirit can poison congregational worship. Being able to play the songs of today does not guarantee skill for tomorrow. There are always areas in which we can grow and improve. God may be preparing the leader for a new assignment, but the refusal to seek help and grow will disqualify the person from the opportunity. [Even with those we train at the Seminary, we desire to instill the heart of a lifelong learner.]
6. “If we build it, they will come”: worship style, etc. The idea of cultural relevance was right, but trying to make worship style the substitute for the Body of Christ personally sharing Christ is wrong. Natural growth is a result of the organism multiplying itself by reproduction; we dare not make a worship service the primary means by which we reach out to the lost. True growth comes from the discipleship of those who have been led to Christ and mentored into the basics of the faith. False growth comes from just “swapping sheep” from another congregation because of worship style.
7. “It’s just not worship unless this person/group is leading/preaching.” When we must have something more than just God and His Word to worship, we are revealing that God alone is not enough. Simply put, we have made that person, group, or whatever an idol in our lives. When Peter, James, and John were with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter was getting caught up in everything, until God’s voice clarified the issue: “Behold my Son, in whom I am well pleased, listen to Him.” and when they looked up, they saw Jesus only. [Matthew 17:1-8] We can easily begin to worship the experience of worship more than worship the Christ of worship.
8. Following formulas more than the leadership of the Spirit. There is a tendency to copy what others have done, even so much as to how a song is shared, without thinking of the context from which it came. Rather than seeking the leadership of the Spirit about the needs of the congregation and how everything fits together with the message to be shared, some leaders just put together what they have heard from the latest conference, without even thinking that the songs were written for the conference and it just won’t sound the same with their group as it did with the 5000 at the conference. The practice of jumping up an octave on the verse or chorus after a bridge may sound exciting, but the true is, few in the congregation can do it, or if they do, they sound as if they shouldn’t have tried. Everyone is not a tenor or soprano. Leaders must know their congregations.
9. The volume of the music reflects the intensity of the worship. When the dB levels push 90 and above the body will begin to release endorphins as an automatic pain response for protection causing the person to have a sense of a “high.” Too easily this physical response is interpreted as a spiritual one, resulting in confusion, not to mention that prolonged exposure leads to hearing loss. [This effect is same for an organ playing over 90 dBs as it is for a praise band, for it is not the type of music, but the dB level that is causing the damage.] Unfortunately, the damage is much like a slow growing tumor that is not discovered until the damage is done and is permanent.
10. It doesn’t matter if the congregation doesn’t participate, they can just follow the praise team or worship group in front and let them sing. The truth is, if the congregation is not following, that is, singing, then the group up front is not leading. Such an attitude can slip into the mindset that the congregation is an audience and those leading into performance. We are to encourage one another as the Body of Christ.