A recent article was released by John Cooper, lead singer of the Christian rock band Skillet. This article struck a cord in my heart so I thought it might be something worth diving into here on the blog. Let me start by saying that I totally and completely support what Cooper wrote and the direct nature of his words. I couldn’t have said it any better. But I do have a fear of how this will be read, hence me adding my two cents worth.
Cooper’s original article was on Apostasy in the church and specifically among young Christian leaders in the church today. It’s been a problem for a while but idolizing these young worship leaders, singers, bands, and leaders in the church is seemingly on the rise. Cooper took a few sentences to call out some of the more renowned singers and how they left the faith and are now trying to take others with them. The gist is if you’re going to exit do it quietly.
As I watch this article being reposted on social media outlets and fill my news feeds, I’m growing increasingly concerned. My concern isn’t the message of the article but the message of those sharing it. Some are using this article as a way to throw out one type of worship altogether. It’s being shared as if worship that uses a worship leader or praise band is always bad because people have a tendency to elevate these individuals and idolize them.
While this may be true in some cases, it’s equally true of the way some church members view their pastors, the liturgy, the traditions in their preferred style of worship, the way we dress in church and if the pastor wears a clerical (the funny black shirt with white square in the collar) or vestments (robe with the colorful scarf looking things that hang over the shoulders). When we elevate anything that isn’t the Bible in our times of worship then we’re no better off than the group Cooper is addressing in his article. When we say a pastor has to dress a certain way or worship has to look a certain way or we have to baptize a certain way or communion has to use a specific size cup or type of wine, then we have idolized the forms at the exception of the function of worship.
Why do we worship? The answer is simple and it has nothing to do with the pastor, worship leader, hymnal, liturgy, sprinkle or dunk method of baptism, dress of the pastor or the people. The purpose of worship to be drawn into the presence of God in a real and powerful way. It’s to experience all that God has to offer us in his word through the community of believers we call the church. We gather first to receive not a tradition or a ritual or an experience of emotion but the life giving word of God.
If our worship becomes about anything other than Word of God, then we’re doing it wrong and leading people astray. Church it’s time to wake the heck up! I’m sick and tired of the church dismissing people because they do things differently. I’m tired of brother pastors cold-shouldering me because I don’t wear the clerical collar at all or the vestments every Sunday. I will unapologetically tell you that the church and our worship of God isn’t about me and quite frankly it’s not about you either! It’s not about our doctrines or our traditions. It’s about Christ and his life, death and resurrection. It’s about the teachings of Scripture.
If we’re going to get this thing right, then we need to start with the bible. It’s the one unifying force in all of Christendom. Our traditions don’t unify us. Our doctrines are not our foundation. They’re a clear way of teaching what we believe but they must always be servants of the bible.
In the same what that Cooper sees people idolizing these 20 year old worship leaders and looking to them for truth, I see this historic church idolizing and worshiping the how we do it more than the One who gave it to us. People it’s about Jesus and if we’ve made it about anything other than Jesus – we need to repent, run back to the foot of the cross, receive forgiveness, and dive into Jesus’ words. This is what worship is about. Church it’s time to wake up and worship the creator not his creation, the Lord not the liturgy, Christ not the clergy, the Messiah not men. It’s still all about Jesus!