Not so long ago I found myself at a Living End concert. I love the arts, love music and have been a drummer myself for over 12 years. There is something about live music that affects the soul and inspires worship. Everything from the sweat dripping off performers to the deep vibrations in your chest captures your attention and stirs up emotion. From my time at this concert and reflection from other concerts here are a few thoughts:
  1. People want to worship
There is no doubt that parallels exist between the church and culture. Whether a church service or a gig in Melbourne, all people come to exalt something. In the church we exalt Jesus, in the culture we exalt a band, a personality or a talent. In the church our worship is expressed audibly and visibly, in the culture it is expressed in the same way through the content of songs and movement of bodies. Going out the other night proves to me that we all want to exalt something above ourselves. The big question is, “who will we honour, give glory, exalt?”
  1. The object of worship determines the belief and values
It is fascinating to watch a crowd of a couple of thousand people screaming at the top of their lungs the lyrics of the songs. Each song could be understood as a doctrinal statement. Some such phrases the other night included:
  • “I’m not concerned with religion, After all it’s what’s inside that matters most.”
  • “I may not believe in regrets, But I believe in salvation.”
  • “Well we don’t need no one to tell us what to do, Yes we’re on our own and there’s nothin’ you can do”
Each one of these statements proclaims a belief. Each one of these statements are constructed on the basis of values. Our society is just like us, human, and as humans we all make theological/doctrinal statements. The difference is that some are cohesive and some are very poorly thought through.
  1. The Christian isn’t impervious to other beliefs
In my time as a Youth Pastor I have learnt so many things about people and life. A big thing that I’ve discovered is that our culture does the best job discipling the next generation. After talking with various people about some of their favourite bands and what their bands stand for, I have realised that they often defend the beliefs of the band. It is common indeed for young people to even agree with attitudes and beliefs that are contrary to the bible and orthodox christian culture. Quite frankly we have become oblivious to the culture we find ourselves in.
  1. Musical Worship is still an alive and important type of worship
Even my 1 year old son knows this. Whenever music is playing, or I’m beat boxing, Judah will bop to the music. It’s like deep down in his little soul, his heart he is stirred by music and needs to express himself. It is true that as we live life in the sight of God we worship God through every activity we do, however I do believe there is a special place for us when it comes to corporate musical worship. The psalms are filled with commands to praise God with song and music. At this concert the “worship leader” (aka the charismatic front man) would encourage people to sing, to jump, dance and provoke people to raise their hands. The challenge for me is these people in the audience are doing it with all their heart, mind and strength. When we come to sing praise to our God do we do it in such a way that our whole being is moved?
To those who would suggest that worship is an old concept and that we have evolved, it isn’t and we haven’t. Worship is alive and well, the question is which direction is our worship pointing?