Poverty at the center of worship

The band has to sound good. Great singers. We are to give our best in worship. The sound has to be close to excellent. We have to carefully attend to the culture of our church so worship fits the people who come. As I reflect of worship, my experiences in the past and what I see around me, I can’t help but notice how “wealth and riches” is some sort of theme through out most of it. Not “money” but rather a general idea that our worship has to be rich and wealthy” in talent and performance and that it is to bring something very similar. Our relationship with God, through this worship experience will be rich and wealthy as well. I have to confess, if I am honest, selfishness took over for me. I started out trembling and humble, having played in a secular bands for years, nothing famous, but still, music had a stench about it for me, it didn’t feel clean. I spent a day in 1991 with a man who challenged all that in me and I slowly started to approach the idea of maybe participating in the worship band. So I did. I must say that it was great. Exciting and I learned a lot about worship, not just music. Over the years however there was a change from worship music as a response to God and His beauty and power towards worship music as simply a tool to grow the church, or excite the church or a magnificent display of “wealth and talent”. I got swept up in that and remember sitting in my living room, writing songs, thinking to myself as a great song idea came to mind, “this could totally be on an album”. Anyways, now then as I struggle with the “wealth and riches” thing I find it hard to not be suspect towards my self and situations when that is displayed. So I have started to wonder if at the very heart of worship, at the very core, there needs to be a sense of poverty, a true, authentic sense of that even our best, most well put together worship set, played by magnificent musicians, or for that matter, our best liturgy or whatever, falls short, if it is not a response to God, if our lives does not display as least a failed attempt to surrender our lives completely to God, and whatever our vehicle of worship is, it is about God, His glory not ours. I have an easier time letting music be the vehicle of worship if my daughter, who just started to play guitar, plays with me or if the kids of our church play with us on all kinds of instruments. I have had people say that this would be horrible distracting, and that is just the way I like it. I am not distracted by that at all, when it comes to worshiping God, however my ego and frail musicians need to shine is distracted and that’s just good.

I am haunted by the story about Jesus and His disciples sitting people watching at the temple. They watch the two guys praying. You know the story. One is loud and excited, well-worded and colorful, “rich and wealthy”, the other one on his knees in surrender, to me an example that an honest expression beats a well put together one anytime.


Anyways, maybe I’m just getting old, but watching 5000 teenagers at a Christian concert go ape crazy doesn’t convince me at all that that this is a response to God. 5000 teens go ape wild at an Ozzy Osbourne concert as well, it could just be the music.


~ by Rickard on October 30, 2007.

One Response to “Poverty at the center of worship”

  1. When it comes to worship leading, it seems to me it’s hard to be “spiritually raw” and “professionally polished” at the same time. And I’ve noticed in worship settings, larger and smaller, that people often respond better with (i.e., are “led by”) those they have a relationship with who might not be so skilled as musicians or vocalists, than with those they don’t have a relationship with who might be highly gifted/skilled in music.

    When we know a leader’s story, the choice of songs and the emotion that comes out during the songs connects in a way that I don’t think can happen in other settings. With unknown leaders, whether from in our group or imported from outside, they more often become commodities we consume, not leaders with whom we enter into worship. That’s not to say that unknown commodities are bad leaders, only that in the long run, authentic local/indigenous known leaders trump unknown professional imported performers. (And I think the same goes for all roles in Body-life settings.)

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