It's Time Out for the Worship Police
Yeah. I said it. It's time out for those of you who try to police how people do praise and worship. I recently was on Periscope and I had to talk about this topic because it's increasing the division within the body of Christ. I saw so many comments in a particular attacking how people who need lights and this type of staging are vain or seeking the spotlight, selfish desires, or just the club experience. Wow. Have we become so ignorant of the actual foundation of worship that we become the police on how people worship? The comments made me realize how divided we are on things that don't even matter. There are souls to be saved and we are making complaints on how different churches express how they worship. I see a crowd with a stage with tons of lights. People with small thinking major on the minor and minor on the major! People said that we shouldn't need all of the effects to worship God. Worship God how you want to worship God but don't put down how other people worship just because it's not your way. I remember going down to Atlanta for Passion 2015. Matter of fact, I found a clip of the intro to the entire conference. I've placed the video below. I was shocked on how much thought went into their praise & worship experience.
I was amazed and my eyes were opened at how many people were jumping up and down praising and worshipping God. There are some that would probably never step foot inside of that arena because they looked down on those who added tons of lights to the stage and jumped around. However, what I saw was beautiful. When I returned back to my local church, I was even more filled. We don't have the huge stage with tons of lights and different colors. However, we rejoiced unto God in our own way. I don't think that churches feel as if they need the lights to enjoy God. It's the fact that in any large church you are going to find a huge lighting system because that's almost necessary when it comes to production. I really think that many people have extremely small minds. Just because you don't see it doesn't mean that it's against God's order. If you have ever been on the production side of what goes into television or the tech team at Hillsong, Bethel, The Potter's House, Willow Creek, you will see an amazing team of people. If you are a creative in the church space and actually are IN the space and are KNOWLEDGEABLE, then you are aware of websites like Pro Church Tools, ChurchMag, Church Marketing Sucks, ChurchProduction.com and so forth. These are resources for churches in the creative space. There are people that want to have the word FREE in lights on the stage to really cement the message of the night.
Here's a perfect example below.
Your church may use a projector or screen monitors. Your church may not have any of these things. However, don't condemn the creatives in a church that have these resources. I don't even know why we are comparing pictures. That's like taking a picture of yourself and matching it to a stranger and then asking who is the Christian? I love how whoever made the church meme didn't add any additional pictures and took it at face value. What about these questions: What music were they playing? What was the theme of the night? I can guarantee that the club had alcohol and the church scene didn't. I'm also sure that they had an altar call asking if people wanted to know about Jesus at the end of service. But no...you just want to take two screenshots and past them together.
I believe that we should never judge something at face value unless the message is clear. Comparing these two photos does not make it clear whatsoever. People are crowded together facing a stage. Maybe because there aren't any church pews and you don't see any ushers, you may see it as a problem. I believe we need to look around the world and see how people worship in their own ways. Let's do an activity really quickly. Look at the pictures below.
If we were judges on how people worship, the first photo would probably turn you off. Ewwww..Red lights and people in a crowd. The lights aren't of God? Well, now look at the pictures that were additional to the first picture. It doesn't look like a club to me. I don't see women in short skirts and a bar. I see people gathering together to worship God in their own way through their own expression. Let's look at more photos of people worshipping God in their own way.
This is the beauty of the church. Look at how diverse people's worship styles are. That is the beauty of worship. We all have our ways of tapping into the presence of God. Our different cultures also play a large part of it. For the African American Church, the praise/worship styes are completely different from say a pre-dominantly or even multi-cultural praise/worship experience. However, don't judge in ignorance. Look at it from through the eyes of a loving God that loves to see His children praise Him in their different ways.
As a creative myself working in my local church, I almost took the meme personally because I know people who labor each week in their church and are in charge of lighting at their church. These people are experts at stage equipment, lighting, and just overall production. They have gifts and talents to contribute and they enjoy using their production skills to bless the church and the body of Christ. If you want to worship God without any lights and stage tech/production elements, that's amazing. If you do, go ahead. We get so tied up in finding the issue that we don't actually see the blessing in the diversity within the body of Christ. People worship different ways. I will also say that I see this division especially in the black community when it comes to seeing how other races worship God.
As an African-American myself, I've often seen other people who look like me put down how other Christians worship who are of another race. They say: "They worship just how people do in the club". You're throwing rocks at air by saying that. Just because you worship in a still form and are quiet, doesn't mean you can condemn how another worships. I will never forget when Tasha Cobbs released "Break Every Chain". This song that she did was a cover and had been previously done by Jesus Culture. However, the song originates from Will Reagan & United Pursuit in 2009. So the song was done by the Contemporary Christian field first which is predominantly caucasian. When Tasha Cobbs released her version, what I saw as far as the reactions from others was sad. People (African Americans) said that her version had more "oil"/anointing on it. I will never forget when I told someone that I preferred Jesus Culture's version. They had a fit. They said that I didn't recognize where the anointing was at. This goes back to the church picture and the club having lights and then the church having quality lighting and stage production and the Christians are having a fit. What would you prefer? A dirt floor with nothing but hay and some animals from the manger to make sure that people had humble spirits? We have to really check ourselves. What I saw was that the people who really need the prayer are the people who post pictures like this continuing to promote division in the body of Christ. We need to wake up and stop being petty. Let's look at the Word of God for some biblical backup.
John 4:24- "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
Romans 12:1 - "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship."
Psalm 100:1-4 - "A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!"
The purpose of praise and worship is for the heart to connect to God. People connect in their own ways. What we should be concerned about is if people are connecting to God. That's it.
I've heard people say: The church doesn't need lights like that. Why should churches have lights flashing everywhere? This is not the club.
Well let me ask you a few questions:
- Why do churches need cameras or video streaming? "The church is not supposed to be on display for the world. Are we conceited with seeing ourselves on screen?"
- Why do churches need computers? "Leave the technology out the church."
- Why do churches have dance teams? "Young people don't need to be dancing in church. This is not a club."
- Why do churches need to be on social media? "We're in the world but we're not supposed to be of it."
- Why do churches do chicken dinners? "The church is not a restaurant. The church is the church."
- Why do churches need a website? "The church is where people gather. If people want to come, they will find us. We don't need to be on the web like the world does."
- Why do churches need a stage? "The church is not a theatre. It's the church."
- Why do churches need sound systems? "Last time I checked, the people in the bible didn't have a sound system in order to gather to praise God. Moses didn't have a stage or a sound system."
- Why do churches need all of these groups and ministries? "The bible never talks about having Sunday School or having a Teen/Youth Group. We're conforming to the world!"
- Finally: Why aren't you more concerned about the lost souls out there in the world?
The enemy wants us to be focused on the wrong things instead of pouring our energy into what really matters. My church doesn't have a huge lighting system. However, it would be awesome to have one so that we could really put on our church plays in a very professional way. I would also love for us to have an awesome tech and production team so that when we stream online, the lighting was just right for the cameras that was spreading the gospel around the world! However, we don't have these things so I'm content with what we have right now. As our church grows, I will be sure to see how other churches are promoting their own way of being diverse in the Kingdom of God. Just because a fish swims differently than you doesn't make it less of a fish. As long as we are swimming the right way and pushing forth the Gospel, you are my brother and sister in Christ! I may not dance like you and on some things, I may not get down with the lights. However, I'm glad that you are in church and enjoying God. I'm so glad because there are so many people lost in this world and it's a pleasure to see you in church. You could be anywhere else but you in the House of God and that's all that matters.
Lastly, if you want to know if a church is like a club, you don't need to judge their lighting. You probably need to listen to their teachings. That's a better way to judge. However, I think the church as a whole needs to go back to winning souls and stop judging things that don't even make sense nor matter to God. You may be personally offended due to your thinking. However, this is why I tell people to travel. Get around some people who don't look like you and don't worship like you. It will expand your thinking and you won't put God in a box that's based off of how you do things.
Now, I'm going to end this post with a favorite song of mine called God's Great Dance Floor. I believe that Heaven is going to be one huge place with people praising God. Now excuse me. It's time for me to to start jumping up and down because God is soooooo good!