Question: I’ve been noticing a trend in my church. More and more, the time designated as “worship” is being taken up by repetitive choruses with little content that would actually promote worship. Also, shouldn’t at least some time be given to worship in prayer—not petitioning God but praising and thanking Him? Today’s “worship” allows no time for individuals to express publicly or even silently from their own hearts personal worship and praise to their Lord. This disturbs me. Am I being too critical?
Response: You can find what we have said on this subject in the Reprints for August and October 1992, July 1998 and March 2001. I am often grieved as a church’s “worship team” leads the congregation in shallow, repetitive choruses about worship but without real worship. My heart cries out at the spiritual poverty of those who so earnestly repeat words such as “we’ve come to worship you...to praise you...we love to praise you...to worship you...we lift your name on high,” etc.
Worship is not words about worship but about our Lord. Praise is not saying “we praise you.” We worship and praise the Lord when we speak or sing of who He is and what He has done that causes us to bow in wonder and worship—something largely missing from contemporary songs.
Is it the catchy tunes which cause so many groups to replace with shallow, repetitive lyrics the old hymns so rich in sound doctrine (and which evoke true praise and worship)? Consider these few lines from two of the many comparable hymns unthinkingly abandoned. The words “worship” and “praise” do not appear, but hearts are bowed in both:
Son of God, ‘twas love that made Thee
Die our ruined souls to save.
‘Twas our sins’ vast load that laid Thee,
Lord of Life, within the grave;
But Thy glorious resurrection
Showed Thee conqueror o’er the tomb;
So the saints by Thy protection
Through Thy work shall overcome....
O Head once filled with bruises,
Oppressed with pain and scorn,
O’erwhelmed with sore abuses,
Mocked with a crown of thorn!
O Head, to death once wounded
In shame upon the tree,
In glory now surrounded
With brightest majesty,
Thou Lord of all, transcendent,
Thou life-creating Sun
To worlds on Thee dependent,
Yet bruised and spat upon!
O Lord, what Thee tormented
Was our sins’ heavy load;
We had the debt augmented,
Which Thou didst pay in blood....
Sadly, many of today’s young Christians—including the “worship teams”!—have never heard such stirring words, and as a result are suffering from spiritual malnutrition.
And, yes, surely there ought to be a pause in the singing for those present to offer up to our Lord in their own words the praise, worship and thanksgiving overflowing from their hearts. But today’s concept of “worship” seems to be nonstop repetitious singing with little content, and often the louder the better. We need time to think—and we need to have something presented that is worth thinking about deeply!