a philosophy of Worship

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a philosophy of Worship

Postby nakedpreacher » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:45 pm

I posted this comment in Petros' topic "Musici" but got no traction there. If my tone was off or something I apologize, but I really wanted the thoughts of others on this. I am trying to formulate a Philosophy (I wouldn't call it a theology as some do because it concerns "our" practice of worship) of Worship which strips away tradition for tradition's sake and gets to the essence of what worship is. I have seen my own denomination go off the deep end in this area and do not agree at all with the practice of most A/G congregations I have visited, but I am still trying to formulate what is right in this area. I have been with most of you for a few years now and have grown to respect and value your opinions on many matters. I invite your comments and criticism of my opinion as well as your own philosophy. I do not have a stylistic axe to grind. I would really like some clarity on this issue and hope that Iron will indeed sharpen Iron. My original comment is below.

In traveling for most of last year we had the opportunity to visit many churches, where ever we were we found a church to attend with only a few Sundays missed. I had the opportunity to see many churches, both A/G (which is what I grew up in) and non-denominational (many of them Baptist churches calling themselves non-denominational). I observed many different styles of "worship" but for simplicity they can be grouped into two very broad categories; Hillsong (or insert other famous worship genre music groups) cover bands, and worship worshipers. One church we attended which fell into the later group repeated songs ad nauseam for a two hour worship service which consisted of three songs, very earnest in their worship but very shallow; I believe they worshiped in spirit but not in truth. Another church we attended for some time, being the former group, required would-be worship team members to submit an audition video before being considered. The quality of the music coming from the platform was very high, however most of the congregation did not participate (I believe it was because they figured they'd mess up the sound).
When I was pastoring it fell to me to lead worship. I invited anyone who wanted to join the worship team, they simply had to show up for practice at 9:00 am for practice before the 10:30 service. I only ever had to ask one person not to come until he had learned his instrument (drums, he had plenty of volume, but no sense of rhythm and confused the congregation). I always said and modeled that our job as worship leaders was to disappear, thus we should strive to draw no attention to ourselves, neither by our lack of skill nor demonstration of its abundance. In worship we do not invite the presence of God because he is already there wherever we gather in his name, rather we are trying to draw the attention of the congregants to his presence and focus their attention upon it. I usually had about 80 percent participation of men and women (there's always more men that don't sing). I found when singing modern choruses that any alternate choruses, instrumentals of more than half a measure, and often bridges had to be deleted (I don't do OOH's) because they confuse people and confused people don't participate. Nothing that we did was focused on the platform, because it's not a stage.
I have, here to fore, said nothing about song choice. We usually sang 5 songs (though that was not a magic number, it just suited service length) a mixture of choruses and hymns. I prefer older hymns (Pre campmeeting revival) because of their depth, though we did sing some 20th century campmeeting songs too. We always did at least one song from the hymnal and several times did a complete song service from it (we projected the words so we didn't waste time turning pages). I often re-arranged hymns to suit available instrumentation. The litmus test was that every song whether chorus or hymn had to contain significant truth (Gods love, holiness and grace; Christ's sacrifice; our sojourn; hope of Heaven, etc. (the Gaithers are wonderful but I refuse to sing "something about that name" because it basically says nothing significant)). I once heard Alistair Begg describe how people complain about song choice, "we sang too many hymns, We sang too many choruses" (different people describing the same service). He said, "Who gives a rip if you enjoyed it, did God enjoy it?"
All that to say this, Any church music must teach or remind us of what we know about God (his character, his attributes, his sacrifice, his grace), it must focus our attention upon his presence and away from ourselves, and it must be led (not performed) in such a way that the congregation has the most chance of connecting with those truths. We learn best when we hear and say (sing) the truth that we wish to retain. Song choice, style, and leading should all serve that purpose.
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If, when we judged others, our real motive was to destroy evil; we should look for evil where it is certain to be found, and that is in our own hearts. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby bn2bnude » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:50 pm

Before people get too wrapped up in this conversation, let me relate my experience (again) and issue a caution.

"Worship Wars" are incredibly divisive, not so much here but definitely in church. 15 years ago I was part of a worship team that would help with hymns, some folk style, and some rock style. The details of the war are detailed here. I sense from some of your text, we'll be on opposite ends of that sort of discussion.

On the other hand, what made me step down from "worship team" at a different church was not the music but several things. One of which was what we call "worship" and shove into a specific part of a service is only a part of worship. Some people worship through the music, some through the message. Romans 12:1&2 talks about us offering our bodies which is our "spiritual service of worship".
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1 NLT)



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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby Petros » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:22 am

I don't know that I do philosophy, but I'm a research elephant's child - I observe, I take notes, I inquire, and I formulate hypotheses.

I absolutely agree that there are all kinds and levels of Worship Wars - people get feisty and combative at the drop of a yarmulke.

That said - here is the thing:

People are various [if you happen to disagree with that proposition we can talk about it outside.

With the corollary, you can't please everybody [but you sure as shooting can displease just about everybody].

One style of worship, a few come, many leave.

Carefully mixed worship styles, a good few stay, some leave.

And the Robinsons support Sunny Acres Community Church and are audible during worship, while the Robertsons go around from church to church with the lantern they borrowed off Diogenes looking for an honest choir and have not found one yet. And I suspect this pattern holds while the world does.
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby nakedpreacher » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:03 pm

bn2bnude wrote:15 years ago I was part of a worship team that would help with hymns, some folk style, and some rock style.


I too was involved in a worship team which split our church at about the same time. (I did not go with the split but stayed to help pick up the pieces that were left.). I understand that this may still be a sore subject for you, but then again we may be able to help each other heal. I will follow the link and take time to read your story

bn2bnude wrote:I sense from some of your text, we'll be on opposite ends of that sort of discussion.


This is what I mentioned when I said my tone may have been off. I did not intend for it to come out as combative and if I have offended you by what I have said, please accept my deepest apologies. I do sincerely respect your opinion. As I said, I have no axe to grind here. If you will point out what I have said that was worrisome I will see if I can rephrase. I do understand that this is a subject that strikes close to home for many which is partly the reason I wish to have this discussion. I believe that I need to refine my philosophy and the best way to do that is to get help from others who can point out the flaws in my thinking.

bn2bnude wrote: One of which was what we call "worship" and shove into a specific part of a service is only a part of worship. Some people worship through the music, some through the message. Romans 12:1&2 talks about us offering our bodies which is our "spiritual service of worship".


I agree one-hundred percent. When I spoke of "Worship" I was using it in the short-hand sense for what we used to call "Song Service". I have had a sense since I was in my early 20's that my deepest form of worship is to meditate upon some truth about God which I have suddenly grasped which I never comprehended before. Many times as a young man I would sit down in the middle of songs while everyone around me was standing and singing and Meditate upon the nature of God, or Grace, or any one of a hundred things which I had just apprehended. While I never attended a Quaker church, I always believed that I would be very comfortable with what they call "free worship". Outside of the church walls I do not believe in the sacred/secular dichotomy; charity, or honesty in business, or hard work are all forms of worship if done in the name of Christ. When we return the tithe, I believe we sanctify all of our labor which we have done to earn our living, and I think it is a healthy way to view it. What I wish to discuss is that portion of the service where we sing songs, or for some of us, read responsively, or as I said with Quakers, sit quietly meditating and wait on inspiration from the spirit. I would like to debate points so that we may learn from each other, but always in a spirit of Love, both for each other and for the one whom we worship.

As for style, I'm really not all that concerned with it, it is determined by instrumentation which is determined by the instruments that people in your church know how to play. I love old hymns because of their depth, however I like rock and blues because of its energy. I am not fond of the modern worship factory and do not think that it is important to sing the latest songs (my old brain has a hard time learning that many songs anyway), but some of the new songs are really really good. I'm probably more eclectic than what came across in my post.

I really do invite CRITICISM (pointing out my errors) of my post and hopefully I will be able to refine both my thinking and my presentation of that thinking. Honestly you will not hurt my feelings regardless of your agreement or disagreement.
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Ps. Loved the Tragedy Ann video. I personally like to do similar things (of course not that extreme) in service to wake people up. This cause no small amount of trouble in the church I grew up in. To clue you in a little to me, my IPod contains POD, Skillet and Switchfoot among other things.
If, when we judged others, our real motive was to destroy evil; we should look for evil where it is certain to be found, and that is in our own hearts. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby nakedpreacher » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:37 pm

Petros wrote:And the Robinsons support Sunny Acres Community Church and are audible during worship, while the Robertsons go around from church to church with the lantern they borrowed off Diogenes looking for an honest choir and have not found one yet. And I suspect this pattern holds while the world does.


Alas Petros, you are too clever to be understood. I had to look it up, but then... :lol:
If, when we judged others, our real motive was to destroy evil; we should look for evil where it is certain to be found, and that is in our own hearts. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby Maverick » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:52 pm

nakedpreacher wrote:The litmus test was that every song whether chorus or hymn had to contain significant truth (Gods love, holiness and grace; Christ's sacrifice; our sojourn; hope of Heaven, etc. (the Gaithers are wonderful but I refuse to sing "something about that name" because it basically says nothing significant)). I once heard Alistair Begg describe how people complain about song choice, "we sang too many hymns, We sang too many choruses" (different people describing the same service). He said, "Who gives a rip if you enjoyed it, did God enjoy it?"
All that to say this, Any church music must teach or remind us of what we know about God (his character, his attributes, his sacrifice, his grace), it must focus our attention upon his presence and away from ourselves, and it must be led (not performed) in such a way that the congregation has the most chance of connecting with those truths. We learn best when we hear and say (sing) the truth that we wish to retain. Song choice, style, and leading should all serve that purpose.


I agree 100% with this.

My personal thoughts right now are that everything in the corporate worship song service needs to glorify God--not the worship team, not the worshipers, but God alone. A lot of times this is done by keeping things simple musically, like just piano or organ accompaniment.

Yet, at the same time, Psalm 33:3 tells us to "play skillfully," so there is a time and need to use one's musical talent, provided that it still glorifies God alone, not the musician. I have heard one of the girls in my church's college ministry sing a beautiful hymn in Latin in church (couldn't tell you what it was though), but it was clear from how she "performed" that she was doing it for the Lord. When I briefly visited another Baptist church in the area with my family, I was inspired by a gentleman who played an instrumental classical guitar piece after the offertory prayer, again, for God's glory.

It's an interesting discussion and something I want to hear other perspectives on.
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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby Petros » Tue Aug 08, 2017 8:48 pm

nakedpreacher wrote:
Petros wrote:And the Robinsons support Sunny Acres Community Church and are audible during worship, while the Robertsons go around from church to church with the lantern they borrowed off Diogenes looking for an honest choir and have not found one yet. And I suspect this pattern holds while the world does.


Alas Petros, you are too clever to be understood. I had to look it up, but then... :lol:


Cleverness? Language freak son of two Classicists - Diogenes was two steps after Peter Rabbit.....
The truth, the stark naked truth, the truth without so much as a loincloth on, should surely be the investigator's sole aim - Basil Chamberlain
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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby jjsledge » Wed Aug 09, 2017 5:13 am

I knew who Diogenes was and I am son of an oilfield worker and variety store cashier.
Those who judge the motives of othere are simply revealing what's in their own hearts. Frank Viola "Revise Us Again" p.89
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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby webmeister » Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:14 am

nakedpreacher wrote: All that to say this, Any church music must teach or remind us of what we know about God (his character, his attributes, his sacrifice, his grace), it must focus our attention upon his presence and away from ourselves, and it must be led (not performed) in such a way that the congregation has the most chance of connecting with those truths. We learn best when we hear and say (sing) the truth that we wish to retain. Song choice, style, and leading should all serve that purpose.
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THAT IS the bottom line...sounds like a philosophy (purpose) of music worship wrapped in a few sentences...very nice. :like:
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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby c.o. » Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:05 pm

Years ago . . . okay, decades ago . . . the pastor at the Lutheran church i attended decided to spend a few sermons discussing the whys and wherefores of a typical Sunday service. He laid the foundation by telling the congregation that the word 'worship' originated from 'worth-ship.' Kinda like 'good-bye' originated from 'God be with ye.' [Petros, feel free to re-educate me on this point as i have no idea whether that pastor is correct; but it sounds like it makes sense.]

In other words, we're there to acknowledge God's worth. We're there to ascribe to Him that worth as Scripture describes it. He's glorious in many respects: as Creator, as just, as loving, as merciful, as avenging, as Judge, as Advocate, as the last Adam, as our Savior, Redeemer. We are not there primarily to "get something out of" the service, but to bring ourselves TO it. If we are truly bringing ourselves to Him in worship, we WILL "get something out of it" regardless of anything else that occurs against or coinciding with our preferences.

You all know without my saying it that God knows our motivations when we come before Him, and He'll know if the soul that is doing a '7-11' song is actually worshiping Him in spirit and in truth. It's not always what we say/sing, but the true attitude from which we say/sing it. All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Our shiniest selves do not compare to God's glory. But out of the mouths of babes He has perfected praise. And He can perfect praise from us older babes who may stumble all over ourselves trying to do it correctly.

Pastors, be concerned first with the character of the soul in relation to God, through Jesus. Real worship will follow, whether Jack and Jill care for the music selection or not.

All that said, though, yes, i have a preference :biggrin: .
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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby Bare_Truth » Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:02 am

Naked Preacher:
In all your original post I did not notice a very important point that the song service can convey if the music lends itself to it. I am speaking of motivation and the actions that ingrain the proper Christian motivations.

The lyrics of a song can induce a motivation or strengthen an existing one. Repetition, particularly rhythmic repetition can serve as a mnemonic device to ingrain a particular idea so that it comes to mind all the more swiftly and strongly when we need it. I am not speaking of vain repetition which is condemned in
In Chapter 6, quoting, Jesus, Matthew wrote:7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
That is a sort of pestering God to try to get his attention or a sort of "paryer of works" in which one tries to impress or sway God with how many times we have said something in prayer.

For instance how many time does the hymn "Onward Christian Soldiers" use the word "onward" Thereby ingraining the necessity of remaining energized to continue striving, much as a soldier must endure hardship, without giving up. Rather than trying to impress God with how many times we said something we are rather showing diligence by ingraining a key Christian thought into or character so that we will gravitate to it when we need that thought. As a student in school we are striving to ingrain that thought that the teacher has given us. If anything impresses a teacher about how much the disciple esteems a truth the teacher has imparted, it is how hard the student seeks to deeply inculcate key principles that the teacher has imparted.

As for mastering our fears that beset us, the hymn "Whom Shall I Fear" and its more contemporary parallel in the song where the chorus repeats many times "I Will Not Be Afraid". Both of those multiply repeat the theme that by depending on God and his promises we can be victors against fears that would otherwise deter us from a righteous or serving stance.

To a point the repetition can condition us to bring a concept forward in times of trouble, and help us to remember our commitment to the one whom we serve to do his will in all things. Although eastern religions have brought the concept of a mantra into our language, we ought not to confuse the concept of what is really a mantra with the whole thought of a complete phrase or sentence that bears an entire complex idea to which we are committed.

If we examine a hymn such as "It is well with my soul" there is a multiplicity of various doctrinal points to be found within the lyrics, but there is also the multiple repetitions of "It is well with my soul" which bespeaks the particular peaceful blessing that we seek but at the same time the multilicity of Christian life features that bring to fruition that general goal. So then as well as "mind training" to bring a particular thought to the forefront of our consciousness, Such a song can put the key thought into multiple contexts where we ought to apply it, or impress the goal or goals that it serves.

Hopefully that edifies in a way that is useful to what you are trying to develop.
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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby Petros » Thu Aug 10, 2017 7:01 am

Kinda like 'good-bye' originated from 'God be with ye.'


That is the story I heard - of course, I wasn't there.

I find myself that church music, like scripture reading, like the things we casually see and hear in the course of the day, contains a grab bag of stimuli that trigger this in George and that in Martha, guiding them in their individual aoointed directions.

At the same time, of course, the music like the ritual can forge the congregants into a congregation with a shared culture and goal and all the benefits thereof.
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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby Bare_Truth » Thu Aug 10, 2017 8:59 am

Along the lines of the point made by Petros, There really are issues of learning style. This is apparent to me as a person that has a "rote memory" like a sieve, a sieve with very large holes!

Along about the 3rd or 4th grade I discovered that I could master the subject of spelling if I learned each word by devising a rhythmic chant of the letters as a mnemonic device. This was especially useful for "silent letters" and diphthongs (e.g. the Gaelic Diphthong "ou"])

Repetition, was part of the mnemonic device that allowed me to remember the chant and the chant was the mnemonic device that helped me to remember the correct letters and their sequence.

So then the multi-word expression of a concept serves as a mnemomic device to ingrain a concept for ready recall from our memory. As such it ought not be confused with a simple mantra that may only be repeated sounding of a nonsense syllable in order to blank the mind in order to quiet it. The purpose of repetition is fundamentally different in those two cases.

------------------------
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/mnemonic?s=t
mnemonic [ni-mon-ik]
adjective
1. assisting or intended to assist the memory.
2. pertaining to mnemonics or to memory.
noun
3.something intended to assist the memory, as a verse or formula.
4.Computers. a programming code that is easy to remember, as STO for “store.”.
-------------------------------
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/diphthong?s=t

diphthong [dif-thawng, -thong, dip-]
noun
1.Phonetics. an unsegmentable, gliding speech sound varying continuously in phonetic quality but held to be a single sound or phoneme and identified by its apparent beginning and ending sound, as the oi- sound of toy or boil.
2. a digraph, as the ea of meat. a ligature, as æ.
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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby Petros » Fri Aug 11, 2017 6:59 am

Very true, likewise the catchphrases and kennings and rhythmic or rhyme structure in most of the traditional song, story, history, and worship in pretty much all people since the beginning. When Adam and Eve told Seth about what happened, they used structure verse.
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Re: a philosophy of Worship

Postby nakedpreacher » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:21 am

I agree that repetition can function as a mnemonic device and in that context is a very good thing. I plan to try to incorporate that into my expression, however there is one caveat to repetition in worship. Excessive repetition can make the mind hyper-suggestable which can lead to us accepting ideas which we would otherwise not accept. I believe that this was what was going on in the church I referenced where the sang 3 songs for 1 1/2 hours. I will elaborate more when I'm not typing on my phone
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