Worship. God, I miss it!
It’s been over a year (with the exception of a visit to another church) since I feel like I’ve been a part of a GOOD worship service. The church we presently attend has a two out of five rating in my rating system:
1) Good message
2) Good worship
3) Good people
4) People our age (preferably with kids the same age as ours)
5) Good children’s program
They’ve got the people and the message. We should be teaching our kids at home and you don’t NEED people your own age to go to church with. But the worship. . . the worship just kills us! Its stale and old and totally uninspired. Today’s service for example. There wasn’t a song less than ten years old and most of them were over twenty -five (they print the dates in the programs)! The drummer played one beat the entire service. The vocalists stood perfectly still and stare at their lyrics the whole service. They clapped on the opposite beat and they read a pre-programed scripture between each and every song. Both my knight and I are very musical people. Its almost like nails grating on a chalkboard to sit through a worship service like this. That’s how much it physically bothers me, not mention the spiritual aspect I am missing out on.
Growing up in a charismatic church and being a part of that worship team for so long, I feel I have a unique need for worship. A worship team is (or should be anyway) three steps ahead of the congregation in entering into worship. You’re leading. The congregation won’t go where you haven’t prepared the way. Being on the worship team, I’d always been a part of reaching for that higher high. I also had the benefit of the natural high that can arise from being a musician and playing with other musicians. There is something incredibly exciting about being in that moment where you feel it all ‘click.’ Its an awesome feeling. All that to say, I feel it when the worship is off and I know that I have higher expectations than the average church goer.
Should we go back to my old church? I have a lot of history there. Its got a five out of five on my rating system. The only downside is how far away it is from where we live. Its hard to have relationships with people you can only see for a few hours on Sunday because the drive discourages more. As an added factor in my decision making, my sister recently let me know that the present pianist is stepping down. Am I ready to serve on a worship team again? Especially that worship team? It’s changed so much since I was there. My sister is the only musician left on the team who served with our original worship leader, Ron. We spent 6-7 years learning how to worship with him as our leader. A very inspired worshiper, the rule with Ron was follow. We became experts at ‘hearing’ where the song was going as Ron was always open to following the spirit. We learned to play by ear, transpose to new keys in our head, pull out leads from cds and figure them out on our instruments. Change is hard, but abrupt change after years of continuity is harder still. The last year I was on the team was a ruff one. I had to work hard at not being offended by various changes made by leadership. Even so, I spent the last few weeks on the worship team in tears half the time. Sometimes tears are a part of the worship experience, but not these cleverly disguised ones.
The piano had been my instrument of worship for years. In the six years I had been playing in church, there had been no other pianist in the church. Suddenly there was! Somehow, it was assumed that I would be playing the synthesizer now instead of the piano with the addition of this second pianist. Let me tell you, the creativity factor is nil on a synthesizer compared to a keyboard. I felt like my ability to worship had been stripped. So strong were my feelings, I would literally break into tears during the worship service as I had to listen to another pianist struggle through a song I played for years! I couldn’t participate, couldn’t worship like I had before. After practices, I would cry on the way home in the car, knowing I had just heard a beautiful song with gorgeous piano fingerings, and I would not get the chance to play it. She was a classically trained pianist as opposed to my self-taught ear training, so maybe the switch made sense to leadership. Not to me.
I WAS offended. I knew that offense has no place in the church having seen its ill affect on my mom and our family. That doesn’t mean I knew how to deal with it. Conveniently, my husband and I made the decision to find a church closer to home at that time. I never had to ‘deal’ with the offense. I avoided it. So where does that leave me today? We’re still looking for a church to call home. I know that worship is in my blood, and I will again serve on a worship team. Its just a question of where, when, and how.