James K.A. Smith wrote "An Open Letter to Praise Bands" in which he shared some strong concerns with the practice of "leading worship" (a role which I currently hold). His three central cautions were as follows:
- If we, the congregation, can't hear ourselves, it's not worship.
- If we, the congregation, can't sing along, it's not worship.
- If you, the praise band, are the center of attention, it's not worship.
But then Luke Larsen from Mars Hill Portland wrote an insightful response (though without three simple titles with a nice alliteration):
- Trying to define what makes something “worship” in terms of anything but the posture of your heart toward God is stepping on some dangerous ground as far as I’m concerned . . . to say that playing music loudly is somehow keeping congregations everywhere from worshiping God is going too far.
- Is it not possible to worship without singing at all? Is it not possible to worship in utter silence?
- If we are not mature enough to be able to be led by another human being to Jesus and not worship that human being, perhaps we shouldn’t have pastors speaking at churches either. Why not just play a recording and have everyone worship to that?