We don't downplay music in our gatherings but we have tried to re-learn worship as being first about a lifestyle and secondly about a heart that is longing for God. We call this heart-driven worship.
We developed this term out of the conviction that most worship, as in "times of worship," is music driven. In other words, congregations begin to worship and praise God when the praise and worship music begins. When the music ends, the worship ends as well. In many cases, the praise and worship experience is very much dependent on music to move our hearts toward God.
In the extreme, we find ourselves more excited (towards God?) when the music is really good, and not as excited when the music is mediocre. We sometimes find that our worship intensifies when the music crescendos, and then dies down as the music fades. In this way, we have learned to allow music to determine our worship experience and have even become dependent upon it.
We have decided to challenge this with the concept of "heart-driven" worship. This means that we want our worship to come out of our hearts engaging by faith with the reality of Jesus' Presence in our midst. So... sometimes we facilitate this with music but sometimes not... We don't want to be music dependent or driven. We learn to use simple spoken expressions of worship, quotes from Scripture, personal thanksgiving, even silence to express heart worship. In this way we learn that worship is all about the inclination of our hearts toward God in love and adoration.
As we re-captured this sense that worship is more about the heart than about music we found that we could express and experience worship more naturally in all parts of our life. We also discovered that, even if we did enjoy worship WITH music, that the music didn't have to be "good" by performance standards. Just scratchy, untuned voices with or without an instrument became very, very adequate because our hearts were driving the worship... not the music. In fact, we have come to appreciate very non-talent-oriented musical expressions and enjoy the raw desire behind the music more than the musical ability.
Hamo challenges us even further after conversing with a non-Christian who simply was not a music lover. He asks this question:
If its not part of his life to sing 'pre-faith' should we expect him to do it 'post-faith'. Is singing an essential biblical requirement for worship or is it a cultural expression that can be taken or left depending on context?...
There is a LOT of singing in the Bible - music has been called the 'language of culture' - but must churches sing?
Some have said 'once you know Jesus you can't help but sing'. Maybe that's true. Maybe we should expect new believers to pull in and become like us in this way?...
Do you think?...
Or have we become so attached to our singing that we just can't conceive of worship taking any other form?
Good stuff to think about.
Don't get me wrong. I am personally a lover of music in all and every form including most forms of secular music. I just plain love music. Yet it seems to me that worship and music have become intertwined in a way not intended. Worship is what all of life is really about. Music simply facilitates it.