Monday, September 18, 2006

More Evidence That Evangelicals Have No Idea What Worship Is

A friend recently directed me to a job posting for a "worship leader" in a Baptist church. Whether or not you have quarrels with that title isn't an insignificant issue, but it pales in comparison to what I saw when I read further:
If you have a calling to reach this generation and the next for Christ and a calling to lead worship for Christ-followers and not-yet-Christ-followers, [name omitted] Church may be the place for you.
The optimist in me is still convinced that these folks don't really believe that "not-yet-Christ-followers" are actually capable of true worship. But it certainly ought to warn us of the theological bankruptcy that appears to be the logical end of seeker-driven philosophy and methodology.


Brandon G said...

Looks like you are being a bit too critical?

Bruce McKanna said...

I hope this is due more to poor writing than poor theology. It would indeed be wrong to assume that non-believers can worship, but I hope that what they were trying to say was that they were looking for someone to plan and lead worship services for the church in settings that would also include those that have not yet put their faith in Christ, and be able to do so in ways that made the faith understandable to both constituents. I think that is an entirely legitimate desire for a man in this role, as it seems consistent with Paul's instructions to the Corinthian church.

Keith said...

I don't think you're being too critical, but I hope you don't mean to imply that fundamentalists as a group have a better understanding of worship than evangelicals.

Paul said...


You may already realize this, but Fundamentalists and Evangelicals are not 2 distinct groups. I am both.

Assuming for the sake of argument that they are (perhaps as movements), surely you realize that there are fundamenalists who don't rightly understand worship and there are evangelicals who don't rightly understand worship.

There is no point even debating which group has a better understanding.

Paul said...


BTW, I don't think you are being too critical.

Keith said...


I agree that "There are fundamentalists who don't understand worship and there are evangelicals who don't understand worship." That was sort of my point.

I also understand that fundamentalists and evangelicals share some history. They are branches off the same tree and share many family resemblences. However, there are also clear differences between someone who sees himself primarily as a fundamentalist as opposed to an evangelical. In the past, and to some extent today, the terms could be use interchangeably. However, there is also a proper sense in which they can refer to distinct sub sets of Christians.

I think we can learn much from analyzing and debating the strengths and weaknesses of various Christian communities.

Ben said...


My suspicion is that it's bad thinking--somewhere between bad writing and bad theology. Would you disagree that there is a widespread plague of thinking that singing songs that praise God are equivalent to authentic worship?

Bruce McKanna said...

Yes, indeed. It's an uphill climb within my own congregation, not because their pastors are leading them in the wrong direction so much as it is that Christian radio and the music industry have more influence in shaping how they think about music. The trend (fad?) of worship music means that most American Christians think of worship in terms of artists rather than congregations.

But back to the question of this job description, I think we would agree that worship services should be opportunities for witness, yet not "seeker"-driven or "seeker"-focused.

You're right. The odds are that this church is messed up in their understanding of worship. I am just hopeful that their use of the word "for" meant that they want to be mindful of the lost among them, while not assuming that the unregenerate heart can worship in spirit and in truth.

Do you see the difference when you shift the emphasis? [Note my line breaks below.]
We want someone who will lead worship
for believers
and for non-believers.
We want someone who will lead
worship for believers
and [worship] for non-believers.

The latter is more problematic, and the ambiguity between the two is dangerous when the difference is between truth and error. This is what I mean when I say I'm hoping it's just poor writing, but I agree with you that it is probably a twisted mess of poor thinking and faulty theology as well.

Donette said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben said...

"Otherwise, why do we include singing at all?"

Good question. I'd kind of like us to remove all singing from all churches. I think we'd learn a lot about where worship has actually been taking place and where it hasn't.

That doesn't mean I'm opposed to music in the church, but it seems like it wasn't nearly the priority in the NT church that it is today. (Consider Acts 2:42, for example.)

To answer your question, my complaint is that calling the song leader the "worship leader" implies that preaching and prayer isn't really worship. It contributes to the misconception that music is more associated with worship than preaching and prayer are. I think you can make a pretty good case that the person doing the preaching is really the "worship leader."

Great to hear from you, Donette. You're WAY far away from hijacking this thread. Missed you guys a couple weeks ago. I think we'd have won with your husband on the field. Well, and some better finishing too.

Brandon said...

(for the record, this is not "brandon g" mentioned above. though my last name begins with g, I would never think of the Paleo as 'critical...'

Anyway, it seems that maybe a fundamental misconception is that the congregation is the audience of worship. It's like we're at a football game or a concert, merely taking it all in. A good word would be 'consumeristic.' Anything associated with this type of 'worship' is absolutely foreign to anything Biblical. If I can borrow the term, the congregants are the 'performers'. (not that they are getting praise, but that they are the main participants.) The pastors are leaders and guides in worship. They make the service conducive to worship, taking away unnecessary distractions that would hinder worship. Ultimately, the audience of worship is God, Creator and Sustainer, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Donette said...

I understand your premise, and agree to a point. But are you saying that we cannot worship through music or that is rarely happens? Because I have been to concerts that were labeled "worship times" and not a whole lot of worship was going on, IMO, but I've seen the other side of the coin, also.

I believe, since God made us with emotions, then it is right to use them. Which is what music usually appeals to. However, they can't trump truth and the Word.

Ben said...


I'm arguing that the contemporary Church (as in today's church, not necessarily a style of music) has put too much confidence in music and too little in the Word. It has deluded itself into thinking that music can be employed to conjure worship by creating an atmosphere and whipping up the emotions.

Here's a link to an old post that quotes a couple guys describing the roots of this thinking. And on second thought, I'm not sure the roots of this thinking are in charismatic circles. My guess is it goes back at least as far as Finney's revivalism.

So I'm not arguing that music has no place in church or that we can't worship through music. I'm just saying that we've grown to make too much of music and tried to make it do things it is theologically incapable of doing. That also doesn't mean I think emotions have no place. I believe that they do, but I'd probably further display my ignorance if I tried to opine.

Donette said...

Ben, you have said nothing with which I cannot agree. So, in non-double negative talk, I totally agree. It just sounded better phrased the first way.

Ben said...


You sound like my sister. It's very difficult for her to say, "Ben, everything you say is totally right." ;-)

PinkAngel said...

Haha...Donette and I probably influenced each other for that year we were roommates.

greg456 said...

Ben, however, has no problem saying, "Everything I say is totally right." Right, Miss?

"Better finishing"...that was a low blow.

Ben said...

It's not like I wasn't thinking of the shot I sent through the football goalposts.