April 11, 2008

Accidental Worship

A friend asked me a question a few weeks ago that I've been thinking about ever since. Why do we let Nashville drive the kind of worship music we use in our churches? And while my mind chews on that question, I sometimes hear songs, like this one, that sound a lot like worship* to me (even if it was written by one of them seculars).

bird in hand, by owen (mike kinsella)

you know what you are to me
don't make me say it over and over again
it's way too late
or much too early
you know how I get
when I'm left alone to my vices
like the grown-ups did when I was a kid

I said: I'm a bird in your hand so take me as I am

you know what you are to me
don't make me say it over and over again
my left hand, a part of me
it stays late to clean up my mess
when I'm sick of all my choices
like the grown-ups I grew up with
angels and addicts

when I put my arms around you
I mean it
when I'm too drunk to stay up with you
I mean it
when I slam doors 'cause I'm pissed at you
I mean it
when I put on a suit and say "I do"
I mean it

*What does it mean to say something "sounds like worship"? I think what I meant when I thought those words is that it sounds like some of the things I want to express when I enter into worship, in a way that I want to express it sometimes. But even the question itself assumes or implies that there's a standard of worship music that our worship songs have to conform to. Big brother is watching, and his name is Chris Tomlin (or Christ Tomlin, as a friend used to accidentally type on chord charts all the time, somewhat ironically).

Don't get me wrong -- I have nothing against Chris Tomlin at all. But he's not writing worship songs for your church or your community. He's writing songs for large rock concerts, with worship lyrics that are accessible enough to appeal to a large, wide, heterogeneous audience. Incorporating some of those songs into the worship of our churches can connect us to the wider Christian world in some ways, and that's great. But I understand the concern that some people have about letting that pre-canned, wide-and-thin worship dictate all of the music we allow in our churches.

I will end this post with a HMMMM...


Anonymous said...

um, if your talking about Brian writing "Christ Tomlin", that still happens ;)

Bill said...

some good thoughts bro.

i'd like to hear though what you think would really differentiate a 'localized' or 'organic' worship song from a 'kingdom' worship song.

does it have the name of the hometown in it? does baltimore worship really sound any different than nashville worship?

i'm with you on having churches use worship songs that originate from their own community - i just worry about the pendulum swinging back the other way (currently saying that nashville stuff is the 'best' worship we can do) to where people might ignore some great worship simply because it is from a record label.

i don't think that's where you are coming from at all - just the thought that others might be at that point worries me some.