Do You Suffer from Worship Fatigue?

    Do you ever get tired of worship? Those who serve in worship leadership roles have good reason to be tired given the workload that comes with weekly worship preparation, not to mention the mental and emotional strain of a kind of forced creativity for which we strive week in and week out. But I wonder, too, if there is a kind of weariness that sets in when we meet week after week with the same people and find our faith drifting into what Thomas Long calls “a jaded sense that nothing of real significance happens here.” I wonder if we even have a notion of what it is we want or need to happen that would indicate real significance in gathered worship, at least from our perspective. What are we looking for? We are all probably familiar with an exhaustion that comes from working hard at something that just never seems to materialize in a fashion that can be seen (or heard) and quantified. Frustration sets in and along with it we just get plum pooped. If we are in a weary state for long it becomes (or may already be) a kind of funk. People around us know something is not right. In a worst case scenario we can slip into a depressive state. We long for a kind of worship payoff to help us know it is all worthwhile. It is hard to sense, especially if we have mixed messages about what a “payoff” in worship might look and feel like.

Like me, some of you may think from time to time that what you need is a break from worship. Those who handle holy things week in and week out may begin to fantasize about Sundays on the beach, at the movies, staying home to read the Sunday paper in our pj’s, or just sleeping as late as we darn well please. Surely there is something wrong with us when we are listening to a so-so sermon and singing worship songs with a band whose artistic goal is to sound like Air Supply. If we were brutally honest, we suspicion that our neighbors are hearing more dynamic stories at the movies, and are listening to whatever music they please after they get back from their casual trip to Starbucks, and that they are somehow richer from it than we will be from our gathering with church people doing church things in church ways. What’s more, we wouldn’t dare let any of those private daydreams be known, lest we lose our position of prominence, or worse yet, our livelihood. Can I get a witness? There is nothing inherently unchristian about any of those activities. In fact they all seem like wholesome endeavors exercised at the right time as a part of a balanced Christian life. If they are more imaginative for us than worship, then perhaps our sense of worship has been restricted by an oppressive pastor, a suppressed imagination, or simply an undisciplined mind or heart.

Those who know much about my work and emphasis with fellow worship leaders and pastors know that I tend to accentuate foundational worship theology, and engagement of worshipers through active participation whether singing or listening. My journey of recent years through worship study, warm friendships, and spiritual walk has led me to a broader imagination and a view of a Triumphant Christ that speaks in alternating waves of whispered tones and flashes of blinding brilliance. One of the real challenges for me in my role relating to churches of so many shapes and sizes and stylistic environments is finding those basic issues that relate across the spectrum of churches. What is interesting is that in focusing on Christ as the center of worship with a relentless tethering to the Word, I find rich fuel for the kind of basic motivation that I think we all are hoping to find through inspiring worship.

A recent Out of Ur essay quoted Walter Brueggemann from his book, The Prophetic Imagination, “We need to ask if our consciousness and imagination have been so assaulted and co-opted by the royal consciousness [popular culture] that we have been robbed of the courage or power to think an alternative thought.” So true! Oh that we can allow our imaginations (and that of those we lead in worship) to see a vision of our triumphant Lord! How can we be anxious for our presentation when the need of all time is to be at rest in what has been done for us in the great mystery of Christ?

Here are some worship fatigue busters for me:
• Realizing that our gathering on Sunday morning mirrors the worship of heaven
• Remembering the church is the bride of Christ
• Being humbled to know we are part of His Kingdom
• Christian fellowship and hospitality expressions whether handshakes, kind words, or hugs
• Biblical reminders of how worship in His presence is made possible, such as

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
-Hebrews 10:19-25
• Biblical reminders of heavenly worship such as in Revelation 4 and 5. Christ the Victor!

Looking again to Long’s commentary on Hebrews we are reminded that ”while we are in the beach chair filling out the crossword puzzle, the faithful in the sanctuary doing the best they can with their off-key voices to belt out, Holy, Holy, Holy, have been gathered by a mystery beyond their own seeing and knowing into the great choir of angels in festal garb and the saints singing ceaseless praise to God (Heb 12:22-23). Things are not what they seem. What looks like leisure turns out in the end to be exhausting, and what appears to be the labor of prayer leads to a ‘safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at last.”

Peace just as new life is in Christ

Explore posts in the same categories: Leading Worship, Private Worship, Shared Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Uncategorized, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors

One Comment on “Do You Suffer from Worship Fatigue?”

  1. Gene Skaggs Says:

    amen, and amen.

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