Who or what is worship for?

This is by way of a quick commentary on a video that Banksy has posted (tying in with some conversations that we’ve been having). Here’s the vid:

I would very much want to endorse the second half of the vid, especially the link between pastoral care and the leading of worship (that’s why you can’t have lay presidency – doh!) and the fact that, if you pitch worship towards people who aren’t members, then the worship doesn’t have integrity.


I think the first part of the vid is one-sided (not untrue, just not the whole picture). Who is worship for? That is, what is the centre of gravity? The centre of gravity must be God, otherwise it is not worship, it is entertainment, some form of self-stimulation. Worship must have (MUST) have an irredeemably other, prophetic and even judgemental quality about it. It is a fearful thing to come into the presence of the living God.

It is therefore perfectly legitimate for worship to be found strange, off-putting, weird or bizarre to begin with. If the worship is real, if the Spirit is present, then the worship won’t just be strange, it will be strangely attractive, and people will be enabled to enter into and share in the mystery. This may require that worship does not change with contemporary fads, it means resisting a collapse into worldliness, it means giving a full respect and weight to worship that has been found valid through time, what CS Lewis called ‘Deep Church’.

However… that being said, the speaker on the video does have a point. It is perfectly possible for worship to lose touch with the Spirit through being embedded too far in its own fundament(als). The word that I have found useful for striking the right balance between a worldly trendiness that lacks God-centred integrity, and a broken down ruin that has only memories of the divine glory, is this: enable. Right worship enables the congregation to come into the presence of God. There is no set way of achieving this – all sorts of ways can ‘work’ – it depends entirely on the gathered believers, which is why the second half of the video is spot on.

The question is: what will enable THIS community of believers, gathered together, to worship God in Spirit and in Truth? What will enable them to enter into the great mystery of faith, in a way which feeds their soul and enables them to access spiritual medicine? The answers change according to time and context…

See also:
Tearing Down the Curtain
The Role of Music in Worship

One Artist meme

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, answer these questions. Be as clever as you can. You can’t use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It’s a lot harder than you think…

Pick your Artist: Martyn Joseph

Describe yourself: Liberal Backslider

How do you feel: I have come to sing

If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Vegas

Your favourite form of transportation: Walk down the mountain

Your best friend is a: Gift to me

You and your best friends are: Contradictions

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called: Whoever it was that brought me here will have to take me home

What is life to you: This fragile world

Your current relationship: My love, my life

Your fear: Nobody loves you anymore

What is the best advice you have to give: Kiss the world beautiful

I would like to die: Carried in sunlight

Time of day: Let’s talk about it in the morning

My motto: Yet still this will not be

Wake Up!!

“This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13.11 NLT)

Inspired by reading this before taking a service this morning.

Fifteen songs meme

1) Turn on your MP3 player or music player on your computer.
2) Go to SHUFFLE songs mode.
3) Write down the first 15 songs that come upโ€“song title and artistโ€“NO editing/cheating, please.

1. Must I paint you a picture – Billy Bragg
2. Way Down – Elvis Presley
3. Pater Noster – Gesange Aus Taize
4. Exsultate Deo – Westminster Cathedral Choir
5. Beethoven symphony #2, 1st Movement – Berlin Phil (I think – conducted by von Karajan anyway)
6. See now he sleepeth – from Mendelssohn’s Elijah
7. Track 20 from Carmina Burana
8. Smackwater Jack – Carole King
9. What you never know – Sarah Brightman
10. Tahi Nei Taru Kano (Maori Folk Song) – Kiri te Kanawa
11. Glory to Thee, my God this night – King’s College Choir
12. Pumpkin and Honey Bunny/Misirlou – Pulp Fiction Soundtrack a particularly entertaining jump in mood ๐Ÿ˜‰
13. You can’t lose what you ain’t never had – Muddy Waters
14. What is love? – Haddaway
15. Space Walking (demo) – After The Fire

No tags.

Of Ministers and Musicians

A colleague picked this up at a Diocesan training day, but I haven’t been able to find it on the web. I thought it was worth sharing more widely.

The Minister’s perspective:

PULLING TOGETHER: I want to know that you are fully behind me, that we share the same vision. I’ve heard of many situations where the musicians have been a major impediment to the growth and life of the church. They’ve developed their own empire. When the rest of the church has wanted to move forward, they’ve dug their heels in or even split the church.

LOYALTY: As leader, I expect your loyalty and respect towards the leadership team. I am legally responsible for the church and nothing can change that at the moment. The decisions I make with the leadership team are made for the good of the whole church. Some things you may not approve of, but please don’t be tempted to gossip or foment rebellion in the camp. The musicians are a powerful force within the church and if they begin to pull in a different direction it can be devastating.

TEACHABILITY: I want to be able to ‘speak into’ your ministry โ€“ to make suggestions and comments about the way things are done so that it matches the whole thrust of a service or the worship in general. I’d like to be able to suggest certain hymns and songs without feeling that you disdain my comments. I’m not particularly musical but my opinions deserve a hearing.

SERVANT SPIRIT: Servanthood is an important qualification for ministry. Whatever gift we have, it must be used to serve others in the body of Christ. I wish to serve you and help release your full potential in terms of personal growth and ministry. I expect you to have a similar attitude to me, so that together we will be able to serve and build up the body of Christ here in its worship and mission.

MUSICAL BREADTH: I want to emphasise the need for musical diversity within the church. We are from many backgrounds and age groups. We have many different needs in worship, therefore we need a similar diversity within music for worship. While I know you value certain styles of music above others, please don’t dismiss other preferences if different from your own. If you rubbish the style, you can rubbish the person too.

KEEPING UP TO DATE: I expect you to keep abreast of the wider worship scene, and to ensure that the congregation is introduced to that music which the wider body of Christ is finding relevant. I don’t want our church to be cut off from the mainstream but I’d like to maintain some quality too. I want us to develop our own distinct musical repertoire which reflects our needs, our priorities.

APPRECIATING MY PERSPECTIVE: Please realise that I have to keep an overview of everything. What you see as the most important priority at the moment may not be so for someone else standing in another position. Please trust me in the decisions I make.

BE A MODEL: I acknowledge the tremendous gift and potential for music in worship. You and the whole music ministry can be come a model and inspiration to the congregation โ€“ an embodiment of worship, a sample of what the body of Christ can be.

The musician’s perspective:

AN OVERALL PERSPECTIVE: I need you, as leader, to hold the wider vision open for me. I can easily get so preoccupied with the music and worship scene that I forget that it is just one area of ministry. If you and the other leaders are clear about the overall vision, direction and emphasis of our church, then I can develop music and worship styles which reflect and serve it.

VISION: If the leader hasn’t a clear sense of direction, how can anyone follow? I believe your role is to guard the vision God has given for our church. Other service gifts like music can then fit into the context. For example, a church with a strong evangelistic calling might have music which emphasises that commitment.

MUSIC CAN’T DO EVERYTHING: I don’t appreciate it when people expect music to glue the whole thing together. Effective worship has much wider implications. For the music ministry to function properly, I rely on the whole body of Christ being well formed and nurtured. Music may reflect a healthy body, but it can never be a substitute for it. Don’t force on me the whole responsibility for making worship happen within the congregation.

VULNERABILITY: Leaders operate most effectively out of weakness โ€“ that is, the acknowledgement that without God they can do nothing. That doesn’t mean leaders should be inept, indecisive weaklings. It means they should have a vulnerability to God and to others, a softness of character which God has effected through life’s experiences. People identify with weakness: it allows others in so that sharing and bonding may happen.

EARN MY RESPECT: I will submit to your leadership, but I’d rather do it out of respect than out of obligation. You will earn my respect particularly by admitting that you don’t have all the answers and by your willingness to acknowledge mistakes. When I summon up the courage to confront you over an issue about which I feel deeply, I hope that you won’t be dismissive. Don’t let feelings of insecurity put you on the defensive and prevent you from listening to me. I hope that you would do the same for me โ€“ I want to grow as a person and as a disciple too.

FACILITATING: Many of us within the church have very specific gifts. As the overall leader I look to you for the ability to facilitate them and allow our ministries to flourish for the good of the whole. We don’t expect you to be gifted in every direction, but to provide continuity and oversight, a covering under which we can operate.