REMOVING DISTRACTIONS TO CONGREGATIONAL WORSHIP PARTICIPATION

  In the process of sculpting it is said the artist subtracts all material that is not a part of the final product of the art.  So we can imagine Michelangelo as he sculpts away at his famous statue of  David, or his Pieta`, and continually focuses to remove any part of the material that he thinks distracts from the appearance of his vision of the biblical characters.

Perhaps those who serve in worship leadership roles in the church would do well to consider a similar artistic mindset when planning for a service of Christian worship.  What if a clear vision of Christ were the obvious sole focus of all leaders in worship.  Surely in that scenario all that does not reflect and reveal Christ would be stripped away.  Some current commonly used evaluative measures might indeed become more convicting than useful in designing services of worship if our measure were more purely to make Christ seen and known.  If our grasp of worship as Gospel witness, and church as bride of Christ were more clear perhaps gathered worship would serve to more fully engage worshipers in active participation whereby Christ is lifted up, and less in distracted self-absorption, where self awareness simply leads to distress.

He must increase, but I must decrease.  (John 3:30)

I will leave you to chew on how much of your own worship planning becomes distracted with desire for personal “success,” the push of people, a pastor, other staff members, or some other motivational disruption.  Indeed, most of the areas mentioned below find their very root in the same.  Nevertheless, here are some areas where distractions seem to occur in present-day worship practice, especially in the evangelical church, where worship design and practice are left to staff.  Perhaps you can add to the list for further discussion and consideration.

 

  • Too much of a “good” thing

A great organist or a kickin’ worship band can misunderstand their role, thinking of themselves as performers rather than as support to aid worship singing, or during times of music ministry or offering.  This usually thwarts the would-be singing worshiper to either become enthralled with the performance or simply to be overwhelmed by the predominant performance or volume.

 A well-meaning spiritualized lead-in to a song can over-dramatize a moment overwhelming worshipers with a sense of ineptness if they are not in a similar state of emotion expression.  Focus in these instances can be misplaced on the emotion itself, the feeling evoked.

 The overuse of technology is another tendency especially when hardware or software is new to the planners or users.

  • Poor execution by musicians, technicians, and/or ministers

Music poorly played distracts would-be participants.  Music that is too slow, too fast, or just simply wrong can distract worshipers from expressing the worship intention of a song.

 Whether microphones that are muted while a leader attempts to speak, or projected lyrics are not changed in time for worshipers to keep up with a song or reading, these distractions last beyond the moment of the faux paux, and can frustrate others on the leadership team as well.

 Ill-prepared ministers who seem caught by surprise, and sometimes even cover mistakes by blaming others are distracting by demeanor as well as by the actual immediate problem itself.

 Mature Christian leaders are well aware that our adversary works hard to bring about distraction in the worship environment for herein His doom is most clearly forecast on a regular basis.  It is therefore crucial that we seek to fervently follow the way of Christ, the way of the cross, in our faith, our attitude, and our relationships as we prepare for the powerful engagement of regular Christian worship.

Note:  Trevin Wax (of Lifeway’s Gospel Project) has made me aware of a book that is written anonymously that seems to address some of our self-obsessions, and thus perhaps may well speak to us in roles of worship leadership.  I have not yet received my copy and therefore have not read anything but the few quotes listed in Trevin’s blog, but I encourage you to research the same for its potential value for you.  The book is Embracing Obscurity: Becoming Nothing in Light of God’s Everything.

Explore posts in the same categories: Church keyboard players, Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

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