Worship Bands

Here at Word Alive, we have been treated two several very professional worship bands. I do not know if these are professional or semi-professional, though their quality would warrant this. Several musicians on a range of instruments, singers with beautiful voices, their own, home-composed songs. It was a pleasure to hear them and I was able to worship God through their ministry. Yet I would not wish to have a worship band on a regular Sunday. I know this view is not shared by all who will read this and attend our chapel, but I shall seek to be diligent in my explanation.

Worship bands indicate performance. When I go to a concert, the artists perform to me, displaying their talent, justifying my ticket price. Worshipping God is not a performance, it is something that all those present are invited to do. They are not just to ogle and gape at the experts, be it the choir in the chancel, or the band of the stage.

Worship bands celebrate talent. God has blessed people with all sorts of gifts and abilities, yet public worship is not the place for such talents to be displayed. On the Lord’s Day, it is Christ’s character and ministries which should be celebrated, not our own. Of course, a preacher’s or pianist’s talents are on display, such as they are, but a godly preacher and pianist will seek to detract from none of Christ’s honour with excessive flourishes or needlessly personal anecdotes. Talents should be used and celebrated, but public worship may not be the correct venue.

Worship bands make beautiful worship. “That’s how it should be”, you may retort. I would beg to differ. Traditional Protestant worship was deliberately plain. Unlike the gaudy Roman styles which it replaced, the simplicity and austerity of the music and building drew away nothing from the sermon’s import. Old Testament worship was indeed more ritualistic and beautiful, with the priests’ special dress and the temple’s grandiose architecture. The New Testament worship that replaced it had none of this, and was a heart-felt response to all that Christ had done.

Worship bands remind us of secular entrainment. They might give the impression they are there to give us a good time, which is not helped by their love of demanding rounds of applause (for God, of course). Worship is our desire to give God a good time, such as it is. We should enjoy worshipping our God, but this is only ever a by-product.

Worship bands provide alternative foci to the words they sing. The instruments, the dress, the exuberant and winsome personalities that invariably shine, risk making the words of a secondary importance. Any good tune may do this, and many poor-quality lyrics are improved by a neat melody. Yet focussing entirely on the words, especially ones based on scripture.

My last point, for which I offer little comment is this: why are they invariably young and good-looking??

Although I believe angels may attend our meetings for worship, they are not permitted to reveal themselves nor to audibly participate. Such beauty and majesty would over-awe us and detract from our worship of Christ. Worship bands are like angels: great to see and hear, but not now.