Worship Culture…or a Musical Petri Dish

Okay, so I haven’t been blogging in a while.  Oh, I’ve had plenty to say.  However, most of everything that I’ve had to say would have gotten me in trouble…or would have put people and things I love in an unpleasant light…or would have shown you just how much wallowing in my own frustration I’ve been doing.  Look, it ain’t pretty, but it’s true. 

Anyhoo, while I’ve been keeping my mouth generally shut, the blog has had its 1,000th view, which is pretty awesome!  Thanks for reading!  It matters to me that you find something worthwhile to read here and that this isn’t just about me dumping my thoughts out for the world.  Of course, there’s plenty of that here as well.  So, let’s get down to blog business, shall we?

Ever found yourself clearly out of sync with the culture around you?  Then you’ll have a good feeling for how last week went for me.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about culture lately.  Culture and values.  How values translate into culture when we embrace them, individually or as a group.  If values create culture in an organization or a business, then it stands to reason that values would impact culture in a church and in church ministries….like worship/music ministries. 

There are two platforms for worship ministry, or at least two that I’ve seen so far.  There are probably more.

  • Platform 1:  Strive to lead people into worship and to worship within the companionship of your team.  The deep joy that comes from being a musician will be enhanced by making music within a worship context. 
  • Platform 2:  Be the best musicians you can be, use the best equipment, and strive for beauty through music.  Seek excellence and people will be drawn into worship by it.

Maybe either platform is effective.  All I know is that I found myself squarely seated in one corner and the worship culture I was immersed in this week squarely seated in the other.  It was uncomfortable to say the least.  And now I’m trying to decide if I want to put myself into the ring for another dose.  You see, I know that you start to resemble the people you spend time with.  You can’t help but begin to adopt their values, be influenced by them, conform to them.  Just who do I want to be?  Would I be following a God-driven opportunity designed to stretch me/grow me, or would I be lowering a standard because the gig is pretty sweet?

I’m also finding myself quite at odds with American worship culture, i.e. the way the contemporary church has adopted the same youth and beauty standards of American culture.  How often do you see your average over-45 female singing in a worship band?  Now compare that to how often you see a hot-looking, college-age female there…and usually singing back-up to the male worship leader somewhere between 20 and 45.  Even the general music industry has Tina Turner.  I doubt Tina would get an audition at most contemporary churches.  I mean, come on, she’s 70.

All this to say, what are we doing?  Is the point to worship God or isn’t it?  Isn’t the rest just…temporal fluff?

Who are we worshipping, anyway?


5 responses to “Worship Culture…or a Musical Petri Dish”

  1. Suwannee Refugee says :

    I find the church (and corporate worship) to be enigmatic. Living in community is always difficult and, I think, even more so in church-the-building community.

  2. Daysi says :

    well said Jen.

  3. antlike says :

    Temporal fluff…yes. Churches split over worship styles and people choose churches because certain styles make them feel good. One person’s “perfection” serves as another person’s “abomination.” God looks at each one’s heart. May your heart be truly devoted to and stayed on your King.

    You are correct. We do resemble the people with whom we spend time, as God’s Word says, “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm” Proverbs 13:20, (NIV).

    I guess it’s like in the Indiana Jones movie where we all have to, “Choose wisely.” You will.

  4. Joseph Shelley says :


    I know you and I are very different in a lot of ways – especially in the area of music – and worship. Not to say that those differences are bad…I believe, and very much pray, that God works through each of us through our uniqueness, and individual gifts; of course, when we allow Him to do so.

    That said, I have to say that, for what it’s worth, I agree with your article 100%.

  5. antlike says :

    This Scripture also has really helped me in similar struggles, living and worshipping with believers who are very different from me. From the very early church, this must have been an issue that needed to be addressed. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” Ephesians 4:1-2, (NIV).

    However that works out, we need to “make every effort to keep the unity!”

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