I visited a mega church when I lived in southern California. I don’t want to tell you the name but it rhymes with Baddleback. During the worship a couple sang a duet. It rocked! I felt like I was at a Broadway musical. (Actually, I’ve never been to a Broadway musical but if I ever am, I hope the quality is as good as what I heard that day.)
I’ve been to plenty of other churches since then. I often hear music that is just fabulous; guitars, drums, keyboards, tambourines, flutes, piano, singers…. My home church had an electric violin for a season. What a beautiful sound!
I’ve been to other churches with not so great music. I’ve mentioned the above instruments to them. “Oh, we don’t do that here. We don’t want to turn worship into entertainment.” Substitute, “Oh, we don’t want to sound too good. People might think its entertainment and not worship.”
It drives me mad that there seems to be this belief in some churches that the value of worship goes down when the quality of music goes up. This leads to the unofficial credo many churches have regarding worship and quality: they must remain separate.
We value entertainment that has quality. Bad TV shows get cancelled and shows that are good get picked up another season. (I know this isn’t an airtight argument. I’m still lamenting that NBC dropped Life and Friday Night Lights deserves a full season every year, but I digress.)
But Mad Pastor, this is worship we’re talking about, not entertainment, we can’t confuse the two!
I’m not confused. The reality is worship is entertainment. The purpose of worship is to entertain God. To bring him glory. To bring him our best. To put a smile on his face. To remind him that he is the most important thing in our life. We gather on Sunday to entertain God.
I do not believe in the separation of church and quality. I think the church should be the place where we bring our best to God. Our best song, our best behavior, our best attempt at entertaining him. Why should we go before the God of all creation, the one who designed music itself, and not bring him our best? Why do we think that the best should be reserved for the “entertainment industry” and the rest be given to God? (Should I be concerned about being too good of a preacher? Maybe I should make sure my sermons aren’t too entertaining?)
Worship ceases when we think the service is put together for us. When we praise the singer we are worshiping the singer and we are thanking him/her for entertaining us. But when we praise the One who gave us the gift of singing, we are worshiping God. It’s our job during services to focus on the right thing, it’s my job as a pastor to keep us aware of that.
What do you think? Should churches hold back on the quality of their services for fear that it won’t honor God? At what point has a church crossed the line between worship and a talent competition?