JESUS CALLED – HE WANTS HIS BODY BACK

Body of Christ This may sound overly blunt, and some may think does not even need to be said, but under an unction to do so, I need to posit that the church’s worship is not a proving ground for trying out a song, seeing how people react to new lighting effects, a cool video clip illustration, or a hymn arrangement. I am certainly not proposing that none of these innovations be used in worship. I am cautioning that one of the many ways Christian worship is stolen away from its sacred purpose is when it becomes utility experiment with the means rather than unadulterated focus on the ends. We are not gathered to market a worship product to consumers we dub “worshipers.” We are engaged in eternal sacred practice with the Bride of Christ to the glory of God.

 

The church is a body. It is not just a compilation of individual worshipers, but rather, She is a local expression of Christ Himself. The picture is pretty clear in the New Testament. See Romans 12:3-8 where the church is identified as “many members, but one body, and individual members one of another.”(vs 6) We are the Body of Christ joined to Christ in salvation. (Ephesians 4:15-16) We are “one body for we all partake of one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:17) We are one body and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27) Shall I go on? There are plenty more where those came from. Just Google something like “the church as body of Christ,” or similar, and read awhile. What’s more, the Head of the Church is Jesus. She is His Bride in preparation for the Great Wedding Feast (Revelation 19:7-9, 21:1-2). And the Bible teaches that the Groom is divinely jealous (2 Corinthians 11:2).

So let’s think about the atmosphere of our worship environments. More pointedly, for those of us who design and lead in aspects of worship, let’s evaluate our theology and ecclesiology compared to our practice. Is it clear that what we are doing is in no way focused on platform personalities? Is there an understanding and fleshing out of our oneness as many members, one body? Are there ways we help to make Christ’s Presence known from the very beginning of worship, and continue through to the last note and beyond even to the sending out? How much of our worship genuinely engages persons, and invites participation of the whole person – mind, body, spirit? Are we careful not to over-associate body participation (clapping, raising hands) with those things that draw obvious acclaim for platform personalities? The atmosphere, attitudes, spirit of our songs, and attitudes of those who preach and lead in worship shape much (probably far too much) of the ethos of worship which shapes us into the kinds of believers we become. So let us think about how our worship prompting helps to shape our worshiping body into one faithful Bride adorned for Her Husband. Are we helping the many members – one body – to engage in a collective spirit of worship that will please our Lord?

In Music Making

I have been re-reading research on ways music-making affects us. Studies showing that music elicits response of the emotion and intellect are a plenty. Even further indication is given that those who make music are more affected than those who simply hear it. It is of little wonder as to why music and singing are addressed and commanded more in scripture by far than any other art form. Put simply, singing in worship is a big deal! The strongest encouragement for individual worshipers to participate is for others to be participating. In our corporate worship singing we must foster a culture of singing. Fostering such is not likely done by projecting 100+ decibels from the platform, but rather by methods that build an expectation that everyone in worship sings as integral part of worship engagement. Let the congregation hear the congregation! You know – admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Body Movements and Facial Expressions

The old adage of “monkey see monkey do” has some application here. Neurologists have discovered the process by which our brains recognize a person’s body language and facial expressions. It seems we have mirror neurons in our brains. Our brains see someone engaged in action and expression and we begin to sense the related emotions. We mentally imitate the muscle movements of others and sense the related emotions. “Some of our motor neurons mirror another’s actions, as well and prompt us to perform our own actions.” If, for example, we see someone raising hands as part of their worship and we sense genuine expression it is likely that we will sense the emotions that accompany that expression. The result may be either to encourage us to join in the raising of hands as expression, or to sense the emotions connected to that act. The same is true of facial expressions. Smiles elicit smiles. Sadness elicits sadness. Older theories implied that such reflection of others was rooted in rational, conscious processes. New research shows a more involuntary subconscious imitation that draws us toward mirrored response. As the many members-one body gathers to worship our individual body language affects one another, and thus the collective environment may well message an atmosphere of freedom and hospitality.

Marva Dawn reminds us, “We don’t go to church, we are the church and go to worship to learn how to be the church.”[1] Brian Wren says, “In the act of singing, the members not only support one another, but proclaim a community of faith reaching beyond the congregation that sings.[2] This is the body of Christ at worship.

[1] Marva Dawn, A Royal Waste of Time: The Splendor of Worshiping God and Being Church for the World, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1999), 256-257.

[2] Brian Wren, Praying Twice, 93.

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

One Comment on “JESUS CALLED – HE WANTS HIS BODY BACK”


  1. Reblogged this on thinking worship and commented:
    One of the wonderful things about blogging is that you sometimes cyber-meet someone who is a partner in the work God has given you. Paul Clark Jr. is the Director of Worship and Music ministries for the Tennessee Baptist Convention. He is wise, well-spoken, and well-read, and he writes one of my favourite blogs on the internet. The following post is a good reminder to us of what worship is and what it should not be twisted toward.


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