Then comes the difficult part: assessing whether the song I love is really something I can do at church. I'm not talking about vocal range or available instruments. I am talking about the suitability of the song for my church. Now, don't get me wrong--the members of my church love good music. But, they also have standards that are important to them.
If only they had the same standards--then the choice wouldn't be so hard!
Some prefer a very traditional style of music. Some like to tap their toe to a lively tune. There are those who have concerns about contemporary music styles, i.e. the use of drums and guitars, and there are those who play those instruments themselves. There is a wide age range to consider--from children and teens to adults in their 90s. How do you pick something that speaks to everyone?
As I read Chapter Seven in Derwin Gray's book, "Limitless Life" this week, I was struck by a thought. The reason for dilemmas like the one I just outlined is that our church, like most others, has a lot of consumers in it and not enough contributors. There are many who think their church is there for them, when, in fact, they should be there for their church.
Perhaps you've heard these complaints before:
That sermon didn't do anything for me.
The music today was horrible--so slow and plodding (or too fast and too much of a beat).
Can't they figure out how to work the air conditioning?
The greeter didn't stop talking to (fill in the blank) and say hello to me this morning.
Who picked out the flowers for the platform? I hate seeing tropical flowers up there.And the complaints go on. Always with the subtle insinuation that things really need to change or the complaints will be taken to the next level. Or they will stop attending. Or--GASP--they will just stop giving their offerings.
These are the voices of consumers. Members so absorbed with what they are, or are not, getting out of the church experience, that they give no thought to whether it is reaching someone else there. They treat the church like it is a product to be purchased and consumed, rather than like a place to meet with other people to worship and learn about God. If they aren't happy, everybody knows about it. They make sure of that.
I have sat in the pew and endured something I didn't really enjoy. I have wondered "Why?" when it comes to unusual music and strange anecdotes and rambling testimonies. And, I have experienced the Spirit speaking to my selfish heart and reminding me that someone there IS being blessed. I am told that not everything is for me; sometimes it is for someone with different needs than mine.
I'm always a little embarrassed when I experience this reminder and realize the depth of my selfishness and my idolatry.
That's right--idolatry. Because, when the various aspects of the church experience become more important than the God and Savior we are there to worship, we are worshipping at the Idol of Church. This is such a dangerous form of idol worship, too, because it looks so right. I mean, what could be wrong with being concerned about how things are done in the worship of God?
A lot can be wrong with it and it can be very dangerous to let the form of worship become more important than the God we worship.
So, the next time I am sitting in church wondering "Why?", I will look around and remember that someone there is being led a little closer to the God of Heaven. And I will join them and worship Him, too.