Friday, September 25, 2009

Most Worship Music is WAY Too Simplified

Last night my church hosted a concert that featured Christian artists Meredith Andrews, Andrew Witt, Chris Sligh, and Aaron Shust. Shust is known for his contributions to modern worship, and Sligh is more known for having been a contestant on American Idol.

What struck me throughout the evening is how focused on worship music these artists seem to be. I understand the need for the Church to be able to engage with their creator in a spirit of worship, and since music is one of the easiest ways to do that, artists that record worship-themed music is a sensible thought. However, what I didn't really care for was the overt simplicity in their songs. I found a lot of the songs sung by the artists last night (especially the ones they'd penned themselves) spoke about worshipping God in very general, grand terms. "Praise Him because of what He's done" is a vague statement, but apparently good enough for thousands upon thousands to think it's a great line. Maybe it's just the writer in me talking, but I would hope that people would be able to connect with God on the aspects of His nature, and not just his nature as a whole.

I've written songs that focus many different aspects of God's nature, but I tend to lean on the side of specifics. I've written a few that deal with Him as one bite, but those didn't seem to generate the same stirring within me as the ones where I take just one aspect of His nature and explore that in the song. One song I wrote is based on the scripture that says the praises of the saints are a sweet fragrance to the Lord, and how I want my life to reflect a worship that He responds to in that way. I wrote one dealing with being alone with God, one about wanting to know God's with me even when I'm not alone, one about having to be dependent upon God for His provision in my life, one about His joy being the source of my strength, one about His omnipresence, one about the ferocity of His glory, and one about His promise of eternity to us.

Why did I write these songs? In most cases, it's because I experienced something with God that dealt with just one device in my life, something that made me realize that God's hand reaches even into what seems like the smallest corner. In other cases, it's because I wasn't as close to God as I wanted to be, and I was looking for an answer or a guiding hand. And having grown up in church and having studied the Bible for years since I was a kid, I already knew that God is mighty, and that He's glorious, and that He's worthy, worthy, worthy, so very worthy of our praises that sometimes -- just sometimes -- the knowledge of those generalized statements are simply not enough.

I wanted to know God more. So I decided to dig deeper.

To me, God is so much bigger than the latest worship song/radio single would lead us to believe. And yes, while God is a majetic and glorious God, and there could never be one word to describe just how grand He is, I think that fans of Christian music and modern worship fail to recognize the singularities of Him. It's not an attempt to put God in a box or to pick Him apart, but the Bible says so much about God and His ways that while there are still some mysteries about Him, we do still have a pretty good blueprint of what He's all about. And if we concentrate on one particular area of Him for a few moments, maybe it could bring about a revelation, a new understanding of Him in a way we'd not perceived or grasped before.


My wife was working one of the merchandise tables, and she asked me near the end of the night if I was planning on buying any of the artists' CDs. I told her no. Andrew Witt impressed me with his energy and his willingness to work for what he wants (something not readily found in most 19 year olds), and I would have bought his CD for that reason, but I wasn't struck by anything in the worship of the evening that I hadn't heard before, and I didn't feel like hearing what I'd heard before over and over again.

I know, I know. I should record some of what I've written and get it heard. Learn to play guitar or piano better than I do now and start playing out. Get connected within the music industry. Yeah, I should.

It's time.

There Is No Box.
Zach