I love this article for at least three reasons:
- It starts off in Ft. Wayne, IN, which is my old stomping grounds.
- It’s written by Ted Kluck, who is brilliant AND funny… two things I often try but fail to be.
- He has some great thoughts about worship and worship leading, from the standpoint of someone who isn’t a worship leader (but is a worshiper!).
Here’s a quote:
I’m visiting a church in small-town Ohio.
The lights are off, and there are candles burning somewhere, I think. There’s a giant screen up front with the Relevant magazine willowy font that is requisite for churches trying to appear “hip” and “edgy.” In front of the screen is a worship band in which every member has his/her shoes off, and is standing on an area rug, John Mayer-style. This is the kind of thing that would normally be snicker-worthy, except that the band is great and the lyrics are meaningful.
I know full well that meaningful to one guy may not be meaningful to another, but by meaningful I mean lyrics that remind me of my sinfulness/brokenness yet show me a Redeemer. They aren’t the sort of worship songs that make me feel like I’m skipping through a field of poppies with the kind of 80s-bearded Jesus who looks like he played third base for the Phillies in 1984. Nor are they the kind of songs that make me feel like I’m solving Africa’s groundwater problems with bandana-wearing Activist Jesus.
“Your blood has washed away my sins, Jesus thank you.”
They’re the kinds of songs that remind me why it’s important for me—a 30-something white guy from the Midwest—to stand in a church and sing. Something I would never normally do.
“The father’s wrath, completely satisfied. Jesus thank you.”
They’re important because the singing is an act of worship—an act of remembering what Christ did for me, what it means, and why it’s important.
It’s important that somebody lead me in this, because I wouldn’t do it on my own. It occurs to me that when the lyrics are significant and the intentions feel pure (worship), that I care very little about what the person doing the leading looks like. It could be a 92-pound guy in painted-on jeans (like it is today), or a Ken lookalike in khakis and a golf shirt like it was in 1989. Or neither. I appreciate what you do, worship leaders, even though you’re sometimes easy fodder for jokes, and you’re also usually the first guy at church to get complained-to about something (see: not being able to make everyone happy, all the time).
It also occurs to me that I enjoy this, without irony. That this isn’t just the thing I must endure before the 45-minute sermon. I’m having an experience (whoa), and what’s more, I like that experience. I’m being reminded that you can like something and have it also benefit your soul. This has to be at least a partial definition of joy. There’s joy in the fact that my sin is paid for, and that I’m invited to the table.
Oh yeah! There’s a fourth reason I love this article! It gives me a chance to plug the fact that Ted Kluck will be speaking in Cookeville on Friday, October 11, as part of the Humanitas Forum on Christianity and Culture. He’ll be speaking on topics related to a book he recently co-authored with Kevin DeYoung called Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion. The book is excellent (read my review here), and I’m super excited to get to hear him talk about it in person! As with all the Humanitas events, admission will be free. I hope you’ll come! I’ll post more details about this and the other speakers lined up for this Fall very soon.