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Dear Worship Leader, please play to impress…


I recently read a disturbing statement in the book Worship Evangelism by Sally Morgenthaler.

“We are not producing worshipers in this country. Rather, we are producing a generation of spectators, religious onlookers lacking, in many cases, a true encounter with God, deprived of both the tangible sense of God’s presence and the supernatural relationship their inmost spirits crave.”

Sad…but true. Worship for many has become a spectator sport in many churches. Why? I think the key is within what we have made worship – a show.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve led worship at small churches with little resources and large churches with a very impressive and passionate Worship Arts department that strived to provide something “more than a song”. That large church is high-tech…but doesn’t miss the point of true worship. The churches I am referring to have become so focused on being the next Hillsong, Saddleback, or New Life church that they forget what true worship is.

Let’s take a minute and hear the story behind a worship song that is still played in churches across the world today.

There may even be readers of this article that have sung the song time and time again with “feeling” but without conviction. These guys had it figured out. It wasn’t about the sound system. it wasn’t about the video, it wasnt about the cool flashy guitarist, and (this may come as a shock) it is not about the cool goatees and spiked hair that we all have.

So what

is the solution? Do we can the video? Do we pull the plug on our sound systems? Do we all sit in a circle? Perhaps. If all you have gotten at this point is that these things are bad…then you are still behind. The issue is that, when we forget that these things are meant only to augment an already alive worship…we lose the heart of worship.

The solution is that we need to play…and worship…to impress our congregation and ourselves.

“Hold on now, Jason! You just went on a rant about who we take too much stock in the entertainment aspect of worship and now you are asking us to try to impress people?” Absolutely! Just as we are, at large, lost as to what worship means…we become unaware that there is another meaning for impress. Here…let me demonstrate:

I was impressed by the exhibits in the Holocaust Museum. Seeing what happened and hearing stories from people that lived through the holocaust impressed the memory within me.

See the difference in the use of the word? I am not asking that we play to show off to our congregations…but rather that we play so that God’s word may be more easily impressed upon the hearts of worshipers. An audience will forget a song or a sermon by the time they reach lunch – but will not soon forget the Spirit that they may recieve from a true worship experience.

Let’s get back to the heart of worship. After all….it is all about Him.

(This is a “got worship? REWIND” article from September 2009.)

2 thoughts on “Dear Worship Leader, please play to impress…”

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  3. Kevin Riner says:

    Yeah, being a word person, I totally get what your trying to say. I went through Dwayne Moore’s online worship school and he used the same sentiment when telling us we needed to be impressive.

    I agree with your whole post. Good stuff.

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