SHOULD WE GET PUMPED UP FOR LENT?

little ol lady thumbs up  Trevin Wax is a dependable writer-thinker with a consistent ministerial perspective.  Currently Managing Editor of The Gospel Project at Lifeway Christian Resources, he maintains a pastoral tone in his blogs, whether addressing the church, or culture.  He has an important perspective in this week’s posting, entitled, Get Ready for the Most Super Ordinary Sunday Ever!  I will not re-hash the whole thing here, but rather encourage you to click the link and just read Trevin’s remarks – a very applicable reminder, especially to all who claim leadership responsibility for Christian worship.

Inspired by Trevin’s article, I do want to address our thinking about worship’s aims, especially as we come upon the Lenten season, and ponder its prospective effect on us as worshiping people, and perhaps double down on Trevin’s sentiment, begging Pastors and Worship Ministry Leaders to carefully consider what your publicity verbiage says about your liturgical ethos, which all churches have, by the way, whether we choose to think of it in that way or not.  In other words, what we advertise, in some sense projects an idea of what we think about God, how we imagine His relationship with us as His people, and what would-be worshipers can expect to find should they choose to join us for worship.

A fundamental question every pastor and worship ministry leader must surely ask regularly is simply, “What is the aim of our worship?”  In the gathered worship environment, “Where are we seeking to lead people?”  Often it appears to me that leaders have made worship’s aim a common emotional sentiment.  This is most especially true during the music portion of many gathered worship services.  The objective is trying to help people feel a certain way through common experience.  Love is an emotion in this piety.  Granted, well-meaning leaders are hopeful that such emotion will lead to broader followship, but liturgical anemia sets in as focus that rests on experience by its very nature is anthropocentric (human-centered).  Friend and mentor, Lester Ruth, speaks to the need for a more theocentric worship derived from God’s own Trinitarian nature and work.  Heavy responsibility, and perhaps a most challenging struggle, ends up in the lap of music leaders, who must select from the plethora of songlists that are wrought with the piety that implies we will please God with our emoted affections.  Some of the most popular songwriters write books, train “worship leaders,” and shape theological perception around the idea of “touching the heart of God” through these emotions.  Many of these writers have little or no theological education, which is alarmingly ignored by many church worship music leaders, and pastors.  Far too often there even seems to exist disdain for the introduction of formal theological scrutiny to be exercised on songs that might be a hit, or that we just plain like.  Ruth quotes one Christian Worship Music industry executive who explains, “When listening to songs for the first time I try to turn off my brain and turn on my heart.  A song can break all the normal rules of songwriting but bear such a touch of God that you can not ignore it.”[1]  Senior Pastors and Worship Music Ministers would do well to reclaim their crucial role as filter for the songs placed on the lips of worshipers, and to pour over the long term trajectory of the worship of the people they seek to lead.  Our worship shapes our relation with God.

We are rapidly approaching the Lenten season in the greater Christian community.  Historically this is a season of personal and congregational spiritual assessment and introspection.  Certainly we will all likely observe the events of Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter in some fashion.  Perhaps a longer period of preparation is once again in order.  Americanized evangelical independence has led many churches further and further from the historical norm of seasonal worship observations. Perhaps, however, this might be a good time to more carefully evaluate the aim of our worship, and help lead our people toward a higher recognition of inter-Trinitarian dynamics, and the activity of God within the economy of salvation.  Perhaps it is a good time to evaluate song lyrics and the piety they engender of a people who may have become long on feeling and short on discipleship.  Perhaps we need less time telling God about our worship, and more time seeing Him as Who He is and grasping a sense of what He has already done.  Singing can help us!

In publicizing our opportunities for worship, whether through social media, websites, mailers, or other forms of advertisement, we are also indicating something of our view of the God we worship.  This year there is a movie out that may well aid our opportunities to connect culture and God.  Having seen the movie, do we really want then to convey our response to the Son of God as “pumped?”  I appeal to us to consider carefully the reflection we offer as to how we relate to our Triune God.  When the tempter escorted Jesus to the Holy City and to the pinnacle of the temple he tempted Him to throw Himself down that He might be rescued by the angels and not strike His foot upon the stone.  Jesus stood the test and resisted temptation.  I fear that in keeping with an ethos we sometimes project, Jesus would have needed to have jumped, so that worshipers would get “pumped up.”  God forbid.


[1] Lester Ruth quoting in The Message in the Music: Studying Contemporary Praise & Worship, pg. 39.

Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, 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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4 Comments on “SHOULD WE GET PUMPED UP FOR LENT?”


  1. Amen and amen!

    “….The objective is trying to help people feel a certain way through common experience. Love is an emotion in this piety. Granted, well-meaning leaders are hopeful that such emotion will lead to broader followship, but liturgical anemia sets in as focus that rests on experience by its very nature is anthropocentric (human-centered).”

    Emotion is important, and must be connected – but we can do nothing without a solid grounding in the word, and without music that is likewise solidly grounded. Thanks for writing yet another blog post for me to share with worship leading friends!


  2. […] Paul Clark follows up on my blog post about “super-ordinary” Sundays by asking – Should We Get Pumped Up for Lent? […]


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