Unuseful

 

  Worship Pastors, how do you measure your work in relation to the church’s worship?

We live in a society obsessed with utility.  One of the stumbling blocks to giving and receiving Gospel is a prevailing attitude of “What’s the use?”  The dominance of utilitarianism has certainly not been exorcized from the church and thus from its worship.  The obsession may explain the pressure many of us feel who have responsibility for the arts in worship.  Sadly, many pastors and worship music leaders contend with depleted reserve banks of personal courage in the struggle with forces that would turn worship into a means to an end endeavor.  Thus we have music selected to attract people to our church.  We have rooms that announce a higher priority on personal comfort and/or theatrical entertainment than God- in-the-world reflection.  The push for bodies and nickels pushes us to a bent more akin to incantation than Incarnation.

 

One reason art serves worship well is that each, art or worship, in its purest form defies explanation as utility.  Andy Crouch states that each of these “asserts itself as an end – intrinsically, and in some sense inexplicably, worthwhile.”  This does not mean each is not subject to perversion.  To the contrary, we find ourselves steeped in attempts to subject art and worship, or more particularly, art in worship to the idol of utility.  Moving through and past those attempts calls for that which is at the root of salvation itself, namely Christian faith.

 

In its final analysis it seems we would be best to declare the truth that worship is obedience to our Lord Jesus, who said, “this do in remembrance of me.”  It enjoins us not by means of something we do, but by something He has done.  Hearts freed to live in follow-ship, whether during lament or triumphant celebration, find satisfaction in the spirit and truth function that is worship based upon His terms, carried out in a way only He can provide, and indeed has provided.  Crouch further reminds us:

 

What we do in our churches, when we do what we should be doing, is unuseful!  It is better than useful.  The economy of grace overflows with the unuseful.”  Worship, like prayer, brings us into the life of the one by whom all things were made and are being remade.*

 

Worship Music Leaders serving in the culture that lives to serve itself as its own idolic reward (wanting to be in worship where we “get something out of it”), are in need of prayer and support to speak truth to this power much as the prophets who spoke into the idol worship of straying Israel.  Just remember that Christian life sustained by worship is best understood as gift.

What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  (Micah 6:8)

 

*Andy Crouch in David O. Taylor’s For the Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts (Baker Books, 2010)

 

Explore posts in the same categories: Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Shared Ministry, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leader Relationships, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

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