Let me begin by saying, I had no idea who Thom Schultz was until today. An article I saw on my friends facebook wall from Schultz’s blog, “Holy Soup” was disappointing. Ultimately, Schultz’s mentality creates division in the church and pulls people away from God rather than pointing them to the Cross. His article Why they don’t sing in church anymore makes overarching criticism of the church as a whole. Judge not my friend lest…you know the rest.
Why is anyone looking around and observing at church anyway? If it’s the first time, I get it. You’re soaking it in and experience something different, maybe for the first time. But that isn’t the tone or lens his article is written through. This author, his perception, and those paying more attention to their surroundings than focusing on the reason we can fill our lungs with air to worship the Creator in the first place is part of the problem. Worship isn’t a spectator sport.
The perception Schultz echoes in his blog is the result of a lack of focus on worshipping the Creator relentlessly whether the conditions are perfect or not. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not arguing there might not be some aspect of this in some churches. But that isn’t my concern or focus. I can’t control that. If you don’t like the house of worship you go to, leave. It’s as simple as that. Go somewhere you like the volume of the music and the song choice. Go somewhere that doesn’t have a spectator feel to it. But isn’t Schultz’s view on “spectator set-up” less a reflection on the church and more a reflection on the condition of the spectator’s heart? If you don’t like where you go to church, go somewhere you feel called to be. Somewhere that feeds you, that grows you, that challenges you, and creates God-centered community and worship.
When my wife and I moved to Texas, we prayed and searched for a church home for this season of our life. We visited over 12 churches in the Central Texas area from November 2014 to February 2015. We did not feel called to any of them. Finally, one of my Soldiers told me about a church in Georgetown in February 2015. After one service, we knew that church was where we were supposed to be for a wide variety of reasons. Not because of the building, the church isn’t the building. In our church, Celebration Church, we saw Godly community. We saw pastors that care and love everyone in their church body. We didn’t see perfect people. We saw grace in action. We saw professionalism and excellence in the way the worship team lead into the church body into the throne-room of God. Not because every note played was perfect, but because their heart and their effort was centered on the Creator. Those devoting their time to the ministry, most of which are volunteers, cannot control what others are doing in their church body. However, they can control their own attitude, actions, and community they create to reach the lost and brokenhearted.
I applaud any church that is committed to excellence and professionalism in praise and worship and every aspect of the ministry God has entrusted them. God always deserves professionalism and our best, especially when reaching the lost and leading the church body into worship. Worship is about more than just singing and raising hands. It is an attitude of the heart whether at a physical building on Saturday, Sunday or Wednesday or walking down the street. Worshipping God is about worshipping like King David: undignified, unaware and uncaring of what anyone else around him thinks. We don’t worship when the conditions are perfect, when we feel like it, or when everything is just the way we expect it to be, that mentality is entirely too fickle and emotionally driven.
Schultz’s article is disappointing because it echoes a problem that begins and ends with the condition of the heart. No church is perfect just as no pastor is perfect. It is okay to examine and see if the pastor and church’s teaching lines up with the Word of God as stated in Acts 17:10-11. But it is not our job to criticize. 1 Samuel 26:9 says, “Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed on and be guiltless?”
Leaders at any level of ministry need our support and prayer. If you are called to a specific church, be part of the solution, not the problem. Volunteer to serve and make it better. Support and encourage the pastor, pastoral staff, and ministry team. Don’t just point out what’s wrong with the church. Pray for your church. Do your part. 1 Peter 5:2 says, “Be shepherds of the flock…eager to serve.” If you don’t like the worship team because they “perform,” go to a church that doesn’t have a performance-based worship team on stage. Or better yet, if you have a gift or a musical talent, do your part to serve, help change the culture, and lead people into the presence of God the way He intended. But if you don’t believe me, check out what Billy Graham has to say on the subject. At the end of the day, we worship because God is worthy of our praise and it’s the least we can do. It’s not our job to criticize what isn’t exactly the way we want it to be in our local church. If we do, we risk offending the very One who is worthy of our praise.
The views presented above are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its components.
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