Dialogue on modern worship (PPT lyrics and content)

A recent dialogue with a reader seems worth sharing in this forum.  My interlocutor’s words will be in indented, in regular type; and my replies, in italics.

It’s a shame to even need to offer suggestions on how to put words on ppt.  (See here for the reference.) I wouldn’t want to encourage anybody along that path.  I am sick & tired of other people’s choosing for me what I can sing or what I can’t.  I should be able to make that decision!

A big part of me agrees!  Recently, on a couple of occasions, I’ve completely given up when lyrics only were displayed … it’s embarrassing to me to guess which direction the melody goes, or which notes are dotted and which aren’t, so it’s better not to sing and just to listen to the thoughts, as I’m able.

However, the reality is that some will do words only, and they need at least a principle or two to help organize the words visually, so that the thought will come across.  Think of [a close-knit, spiritually connected, familial group] singing “Day Is Dying in the West” together, and if the punctuation and layout are done well on the last stanza— ” … on our eyes let eternal morning rise”— then it helps.  The music wasn’t necessary in that setting, but the words-only layout could help. I’m NOT encouraging words-only as a matter of general practice, as you know—only acknowledging that it does and will happen.

Incidentally, one of the best things you’ve ever said along these lines is that in our day, we might just as well display music only, with the disclaimer that everyone knows the words!

Total disagreement on that praise team mess.  (Reference here.)  The WORST part is if they are in front where I have to see them.  Augh!!  Distracting to the utmost!  Always.  I can see slurpy, super-pious, swoony sensationalism on TV, if I care to.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been in a place where an ongoing praise team effort has affected me, or not affected me, on a weekly basis.  More of my experience is spotty.  Again, I feel it incumbent on me to acknowledge that praise teams happen, and will continue to crop up in “our” churches, and where they do, I sincerely believe the distraction factor is more temporary than I think you are willing to admit.  On the flipside, the aural/sonic “really helps the sound of the singing” factor is also more temporary than most are willing to admit.  More or less, the effect of the praise team period is termporary, just like any other human methodology.  Overall, it’s overrated, and, to be frank, if Lawson Road develops one, it’ll probably be more distracting to me than to just about anyone else!

I’ll just ask you to accept that a few praise teams in my history (a Nashville Zoe conference, for instance) have indeed influenced my worship positively.  I’m trying to be fair-minded here, but personally, these days, praise teams don’t do much for me, either.

Not sure about the “new” song list carrying so much good worship thought.  Oh, yes, many do, but so many are SELF-centered.  “Here I Am to Worship” is one of the worst . . . and such inane music to carry a theme about ME!

Please rethink this. . . .  Just because you don’t like some of the expressions and songs doesn’t mean they don’t have valid worship content. Ever since I first heard it while in Kansas, “Here I Am To Worship” has been no more than a middlin’ song in my repertoire, but I do think it’s viable and valid.

One helpful direction in this area would be to remember that your primary experiences may not be the norm.  You might have visited more churches in your travels than most people know exist, and your experience is broad.  But you may not have called to mind the poverty of most people’s worship-content vocabularies.  Rare is the “Holy, Holy, Holy” or the “Day Is Dying.”  Rare is the “Jesus, the Very Thought” or the “Lord of All Being.”  So I find “Here I Am to Worship” a few levels above what most people get.

OK, maybe “Here I Am” could strike one as self-centered.  But try to think of it as a sincere offering of a vulnerable soul to a great God.  You have to start somewhere.  It’s kind of like “Just as I am …” which never did much for me as an “invitation” song, and many of my crowd mocked the are-your-palms-sweaty emotional appeal that often accompanied it.  But as a song of worshipful approach to God, it’s not that bad!  And, at least for me, neither are the words that say, “I am here to worship You.”  “I am here to bow before You.”  “I’ll never know how much it cost to see Jesus on the cross.”  “I am here to worship You.”  Can you see any of this, even if you don’t like the punctuation or the number of times the word “I” occurs?

If not, one more try on my part … I remember an exercise you might have heard me mention before.  It’s the summing up of worship into 5 words … into 3 words … into 2 or even 1 word.  One other person’s effort at summing into 2 words was something like “I love” or “I adore.”  Mine, as I recall, was “You are.”  A combination of those –recognizing that He is, and then responding, “I adore” or “I worship” seems entirely on target to me.

Please share your thoughts. I read every comment.

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