I spent this past weekend at winter camp with my church’s youth group. It was a great weekend to get away with four other churches and have camp with almost 300 people. The campground was great even though it wasn’t the most state-of-the-art facility. The chapel in which we held our large group meetings offered few of the amenities that most churches consider standard these days. The chapel had a sound system and projectors but that was about it. There weren’t any stage lights, fog machines, moving backgrounds on slides or elaborate stage and lighting designs. Yet, in spite of those missing components, we were still able to worship God through music.
I love worshipping God through music; it’s one of my very favorite ways of connecting with the creator of the universe. For some time now, though, I’ve noticed that worship services have moved away from simplicity toward complexity. I am not one of those who thinks that moving backgrounds and elaborate lighting designs have watered down our worship of God through music; I think that any way we can help usher people into God’s presence is worthwhile. Ambiance and setting have an impact on how easily people can let go of themselves and truly worship God. Sometimes, though, the techie inside of me feels like I can’t really worship God unless I have all the trappings of a modern worship service.
Then I spend a weekend worshipping in an old building, under fluorescent lights, and I’m reminded that worship has very little to do with me or the ambiance, but so much more to do with God and his glorification.
It is weekends like the one I just had, hearing 300 voices filling a room praising our one and only God, which remind me that worshipping God through music is not as complicated as we make it out to be. God gifted us with the ability to worship him through music; music allows our hearts to connect with his in a different way than reading the scriptures or hearing a sermon. And that’s all worshipping God through music is: our hearts connecting with his through the medium of music.
It’s a simple thing that we can complicate with everything else we add to it. Lights and sound and moving backgrounds and lasers and fog machines – all of those aspects of a modern worship service are secondary to the primary goal of drawing nearer to the heart of God. If all the aspects of a modern worship service help cultivate hearts to better connect with God’s, then I am all for them. But in the end, if our worship services and the songs we sing are an end in and of themselves, then we’ve missed the point and we’ve left the amazing gift that God has given us in the box. God gave us the gift of music so that we could glorify him; we should strive to honor and use that gift to the best of our ability and for its intended purpose.
How do lighting, effects and other worship technologies affect your ability to worship God through music?