By Bob Burroughs
There are some pitfalls in worship. Sometimes, things go wrong at the right time. We try hard to overcome these obstacles as they appear and try to patch them as best we can with temporary solutions, but some may keep reappearing. It is frustrating, isn’t it?
Here are three reoccurring pitfalls:
1. Traditional/contemporary. I had conversations with two gentlemen who are at the extreme ends of the concept of worship in today’s churches.
The first gentleman is 70 years of age, lives in Virginia, is healthy, strong and does an amazing about of farm work — the difficult kind, with cows, planting and harvesting hay and much more.
He is a believer and loves God. He is very frustrated at this time in his life because he cannot find a church that meets his spiritual needs, so he has quit trying to find a place of worship and goes only rarely.
My question to him: “Tell me what it is that keeps you from finding the church in this area that fits your needs?”
“There is one church that we love to attend,” he said in part, “but it is 30 miles away, difficult to get to often and we feel we would not have any church community, living 30 miles away.”
“Churches near us are in two categories,” he continued. “The music is either so loud that my ears ache when the service is over or so ‘high church’ it is blandly boring. I get little from attending. I love to hold a hymnal and sing. I love to hold my Bible as the Word is being read. So, I’ll just communicate with God on my farm!”
The second gentleman was in his late 20s. He is a professional businessman. I asked him why he liked the contemporary service.
“I love our contemporary service; the louder and more exciting, the better,” he said. “I can praise God best in this way. The traditional service is so boring. Who wants to hold a heavy hymnal and sing when one can look on a screen for the words? Maybe when I get much older, my worship experience may change, for now, bring it on!”
I don’t think traditional worship folk will ever truly accept the contemporary worship concept, and the contemporary folk will never accept the traditional style of worship. “Blended worship,” to my thinking, tends to offend both sides.
2. Lack of planning is a major worship pitfall. Scripture tells us over and over about the preparations that went into their worship experiences: dance, instruments, singers — lots of all three, and this just didn’t happen. It had to be carefully planned. We do the Lord a great disservice when we do not plan worship carefully, and ask His blessing in the process. Worship is truly an art form.
3. Same-old/same-old. As worship leaders, we should never get into the habit of doing the same-old/same-old in worship week after week. Never just change the hymn numbers and rely on the order of worship that fits your needs. Worship is not about you. Worship is about God — and His people.
Changing the order of worship often is healthy. It keeps the people on their toes and extends their interest in the worship experience. If your worship leaders do the same order every week, Sunday after Sunday, they need to be called on it and asked why they never do anything creative, innovative or out of the ordinary.
Pitfalls of worship: there are more. What think ye?
This commentary is adapted from an excerpt in Bob Burroughs’ new book, What Think Ye? It is available from Amazon.com. Autographed copies are available directly from the author, for $19 plus $2.47 postage – total $21.45 – at 213 High Meadow Court, Greer, SC 29650