I know right from the beginning this post will create 2 attitudes before anyone gets beyond the title. The first is, “Here’s just another post from an ‘artsy’ guy that’s going to try to tell me that we need to use all sorts of bells and whistles to enhance our worship experience.” The second is, “Alright, bring on the lights, the lasers, the pyro, etc. and let’s blow the roof off of the church.” I hope that by the end of reading this post, both sides would be at least provoked to explore the middle ground….so here goes.
Last night I had the opportunity to see Rascal Flatts and The Band Perry in concert. If you’re opposed to secular music, I know that I’ve just turned you off, but bear with me. The point here isn’t about secular vs. sacred music. It’s about technology and it’s effect on our experience in worship. From a sheer production standpoint, this show was incredible. Lighting, video images, staging, and sound all came together to create an experience for those in the audience and it was pretty cool to watch it unfold.
I have heard it said that technology is ‘distracting’ in worship and that people can’t worship with all the technological bells and whistles going off. This secular concert proved to me that this statement is simply wrong. Worship (although not of God) happened in this event and all the technology in place only enhanced that ‘worship’ experience. Part of me was saddened by the fact that of the 8,000 or so in attendance, most were not even aware that ‘worship’ was happening. Whether the idol was the self-gratification of a good time or the hero worship of a group of human beings that happen to be very good at what they do, worship was in the house.
Here is where the more traditionally minded person would say something like, “That’s why we don’t need any of that stuff in our worship service. It puts all of the focus on the people performing.” Those on the other side would argue, “The atmosphere that technology helped to create in the room, allowed people to forget about the other 7,999 people in the room and engage in the experience.” I could honestly say to both sides that in principle, they are correct. Now let’s explore the middle for just a minute.
God asks us to give all that we have to Him, right? Some are gifted to play instruments and sing, some are gifted public speakers, others are gifted craftsman. We always hear it said that you don’t have to be on the staff of a church to use your gifting for God’s glory, yet many, for fear of ‘replicating the world’ would not want someone who is a gifted lighting designer, or set designer, or sound engineer to use their gifts because maybe we aren’t quite sure what to do with them.
I am of the belief that if someone is gifted to do lighting design that it is more than possible for them to design lighting for our worship service that doesn’t put the emphasis on those on stage, but rather helps to turn our hearts and minds to God simply by allowing us to forget about the others in the room. I know I seem to have my most enjoyable moments in worship when I can concentrate on the vertical aspect of worship and make it all about me giving glory to God w/out even thinking about those around me.
I am a worship leader. I lead by worshiping, not cheer-leading or giving commands like a drill sergeant. It is my responsibility to lead people into God’s presence. Here’s the thing: I can’t make anyone worship. I can however use all the tools in place at my church to create an atmosphere that allows people to focus on God and simply worship. Are you using all the tools that God has given you to enhance your own worship experience both personally and corporately?