Coming Back to the Heart of Worship
As the semester nears its halfway point and the weather begins to crawl upwards of a constant 40 degrees or less, the words “spring break” evolve from whispers of a distant future to full-fledged conversation. The unofficial halfway point of the semester is, for me at least, a time for reflection as I take a moment to stop and contemplate the semester.
However, this time it isn’t about my plans for spring break.
Instead, my heart is reflecting on chapel.
And not just the typical crunching of numbers where I figure out how many skips I have left and how I can most effectively spread them out, as most of us do, whether you admit it or not. No, this time, I can’t help but think about the worship in chapel and what it has become.
First, a disclaimer: I am in fact, in one of Cairn’s chapel bands, On The Way. With this said, it should be noted that this is written from the lens of both being up on stage as well as standing amongst my fellow Cairn students in the audience.
Personally, I have felt a shift in the attitude about the worship.
I hope I’m not alone, and if you too have felt this shift, I would encourage you to pray about it as well and search your own heart as I have had to do about my own attitude towards it.
Worship has always been something I’ve gotten excited about throughout my life. Music is one of my favorite things and I love that God provided it as a way for us to praise Him and as a way for us to come to Him. However, recently, I feel as though we have twisted worship into something that does not elevate God, but rather promotes ourselves. Again, this goes beyond just those up on stage. We are all responsible, regardless of what role we’re playing. Each role is significant.
What worship seems to have become at Cairn is a competition.
The race to see who can be “Cairn’s band” is trivial and incredibly self-seeking. This is obviously not an official title, but the way people attack the bands based on performance is disconcerting. Comparisons of, “They didn’t sing it as well as ______,” or, “I liked how _________ did it.” Perhaps the most tired phrase I’ve heard is “*Band 1* already played this, why is *Band 2* playing it?”
The comparisons are endless. I heard these comparisons before I joined OTW in October, but I was aware of so little. Upon joining, the things I have heard are alarming. I’ve heard rumors about the personalities of my own band mates and the kind of people that people assume they are, though I know we’re not the only band dealing with this.
But I’m not writing this to dispel these rumors: “To each his own,” as the saying goes. Nothing I write will change your mind anyway.
What I AM writing this for is to call for a sense of unity and to step away from the danger of comparison.
I know, we’ve heard that mantra before, but before you close the browser, please read on.
The question becomes, “What can be done?” Two things must be addressed in order to improve. First, to the musicians: If you are in a chapel band for Cairn, I ask you to be honest with yourself and ask what your actual goal is when you are up there. Are you there to promote yourself and display your talent in a way that draws people away from God? Or are you there to humble yourself along with your fellow brethren in front of the Almighty? I admit I struggled with this initially and still flirt with it; it is a daily struggle that you must constantly be aware of. It never ends. We are sinful beings, and as a result, pride can take the reins often.
Before taking the stage, I would encourage you to pray for your heart to be humbled. I’m still getting into this habit, so you can hold me accountable as well. We need to re-prioritize as musicians and recognize where our gifts first came from and thus, who are we honoring in the end with them?
Now, to those in the audience (myself included), a rhetorical question: Where should our focus be? It is disheartening to be in the audience and hear people jump on somebody’s mistake or a mix-up of lyrics. If you have friends in a band, absolutely support them, but don’t let it be something that comes first before Christ. We so quickly will disengage and criticize, and again, I am absolutely guilty of this. My question is why?
There is beauty in this. We are so flawed, even in our very worship, and yet God still accepts it, and in fact, desires it. It is such a wonderful picture that perfectly sums up our relationship with our Savior. He longs to hear from us, whether we’re on-key, hitting the wrong note, or losing the rhythm for a second.
So if God accepts this, why can’t we?
Worship is intended to unify us as a community of believers that celebrates what God has done for us. It’s about time we embraced this. The lasting question is, “Are we willing?”