Friday, April 4, 2014

Beware! Here be idols! (worship team edition)

Hello CIC friends! Things have been busy for me lately, which is why I've been absent from the blog, but which is also why I post this today! Because the thing I've been busy with has also finally led to blog content! I've joined a small group of other worship leaders in the Omaha metro area and we've formed a group we're calling the Omaha Collective (Shockingly creative, I know).

Our goal is to equip and train local and regional worship team members to better serve God, serve their church, and serve their team. We've begun recording some EPs (I shared our Christmas EP and will let you know as soon as our Easter EP is available) and our training events consist of both workshops and a worship concert.

But to keep this from being simply a shameless plug (too late, you say?) there was some content from our latest workshop that I thought would be beneficial to a broader audience.

NOTE: I freely admit I took cues from Mark Driscoll's conference message "Ministry Idolatry" and asked myself, "What would this look like in the context of a worship team?"



Fight ministry idolatry. - Idolatry is the biggest barrier to healthy change and growth. When protecting idols, change becomes offensive, frightening, angering, or just plain annoying.
"We think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case. The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life." - Tim Keller 
  • Success / response idolatry - Do you measure your satisfaction in your role at the church by how many pats on the back you get after each service? Do you measure your sense of acceptance in the body more from pats on the back after a service or a resounding round of applause after a song than you do from simply being a child of God? When you see your congregation raising hands in worship during a particularly powerful moment, what does your heart do? This kind of worship member is never willing to take big risks, and is always just playing to the crowd.
  • Gift / role idolatry - Do you find your primary identity in the body of Christ in a role or particular gifting? Is your first response "I am the drummer" or "I am the worship leader" over "I am a child of God and part of the body of Christ"? How would you respond if someone showed up at your church who was even more gifted in the same area? How would you respond if you had to begin splitting time with someone else in your particular role? This kind of worship team is rarely inclusive, because adding new people and elements to the worship team are always threatening to the existing hierarchy.

  • Tradition / innovation idolatry - These are opposite sides of the same coin. Are you convinced that "I/we can't connect to God if we don't do things the way we've always done them"? Or, conversely, "The new ways are the best ways, the old ways are outdated and don't work any more"? When you decide that either tradition or innovation is the new mediator between God the Father and his body (rather than Christ), Beware! Here be idols! This kind of worship is often playing to just one demographic in the church to the detriment of the others (which are often the majority). This idolatry turns a blind eye to the diversity of the body.
  • Routine / comfort idolatry - This is much like tradition idolatry, but without a grounding in church history and liturgy. Are you afraid to venture away from what has been tried, true, and worked before? Would you rather just stay in the pocket and do safe worship for the lowest common denominator? This kind of worship never pushes a body to grow and mature, and never presses in on the places where a church body might be in pain, in sin, or simply lethargic.
  • Leader / ministry idolatry - Do you find think that one particular worship leader, band, or church just has it nailed? Are you trying to do everything they do? Same instruments, same song selection, same band line-up, same hair cuts? This idolatry forgets that you have been placed and gifted to serve your church body, not theirs. What works for their body may not always work for yours, and your church may need something different from you than what they need.
QUESTION: Ask this of yourself: what is the thing at your church, that if it changed or was taken away, you’d be ready to quit?

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