REALLY?????? COME ON NOW.
I had a friend from twitter send me this subject for a blog… and after praying about it, I felt that I might be able to shed some light on the subject and so I began to write this. The short of it is that this person had a friend say that she didn’t like church worship because it was “ALL FAKE”. This is the best response I could drum up to that thought process…. hope you enjoy:
Worship being fake is a weird statement. Of course there are always people who have a talent for being more dramatic than the rest of us, but at the same time there is a truth that no man can know the intentions or heart of any other person… no one but God knows the true intentions of our hearts. I do think that this raises a very good point. Is worship real anymore or is all just an exercise? Something that we just do. I submit that worship is both. Now before you die of a heart attack let me explain.
Would you say that a person who spends time in their bible even though they don’t really want to is a fake? No, you would say that they are exercising discipline so that they may better know the God that they serve. Likewise, what about a person who studies for an exam even though they don’t really enjoy the subject matter… so that they can get the degree that they want. Are they a fake or extremely wise in working through the difficulty to gain what they desire… a knowledge of the subject. What about a person who hangs out with people that they are nothing like in an effort to know them and therefore share the gospel with them?
I find it funny any time a person uses the idea of “hypocrites” as there thesis for their frustration with a group of likeminded people… especially when it comes to the church. Ultimately when a person goes to the extreme of saying that ALL people are one thing or another, they are completely off base… it’s an impossibility for all of us to carry the same beliefs…. “They are all just hypocrites in there just fake worshipping Jesus.” Then I have to ask… how is anyone in the room more hypocritical than you?? If you’re a believer trying to make sure that the hearts of all people in your church are pure, then you have already become one with a heart that isn’t pure…. after all the bible does specifically say not to judge lest you be judged. That’s the thing… we can’t get around our fallen state. We all know that we are all guilty of sin in our lives…. and when we start pointing the finger at worshippers because they are all in when it comes to worship time, but they are obviously sinners when it’s not worship time, we actually become the very thing that we hate. We become the judge… we become the jury, and we become the modern day pharisees. When we judge people based on our opinions and our established laws then that is exactly who we are.
I get it “hypocrites” are everywhere and in our eyes there are always people who are more hypocritical than others, but truly I tell you… we are all guilty. If we wanted to get God’s judgement of others to be in acted here on earth immediately so that we could weed out the problem… we would be weeded out as well. That’s right God’s judgement will not be based on how bad a person is…. no, God cannot stand the sight of any sin. He is perfect and without blemish, and as such all sin…. even the slightest cannot be in the presence of God. If not for the blood of Jesus Christ we would all be banished from His presence forever.
One cannot say all Christians are fake when they worship… that’s simply not true. Because worshipping when one doesn’t want to is even a part of the bible. Job worshipped the Lord even in his despair.
One cannot simply say all hypocrisy should be rooted out….. that’s impossible, because the person who spoke would have to be dissolved as well. We are all hypocrites… yes ALL OF US. Good thing that our faith is in a God who is pure, holy, and always consistent.
The truth is that worship is required, in good times and in bad times. When we feel like it AND when we don’t because worship draws us into the presence of God, where He begins to mold us, shape us, and realign us to His will. So, when a person says that all worship is fake, they are missing the point… worshipping even in the hard times is exactly what we must do to continue to be drawn into the presence of God who will lead us out of our despair.
Finally, when a person is emotional in worship…. it may be the truest, least fake thing that they can be… after all when we consider the Gospel…. how God incarnate became a child born into the world in lowly Bethlehem in a manger… lived the perfect life…. was crucified for our sins and died… only to be raised 3 days later to conquer death in this world…. FOR YOU….. maybe we should be a bit emotional.
Here’s my best shot at illustrating what I’m saying:
If you won the lottery and they came to your door with millions of dollars just to say… this is yours… just accept it…. you would freak out wouldn’t you?? Our responses would all be different to that circumstance, but we would all go nuts in our own way. A woman who’s been desperate to pay her bills might just fall on her knees crying and lift her hands to heaven. A man might literally run around the block screaming. Responses unique to that person, true…. but not fake… just pure unfiltered JOY.
Obedience requires that we worship the Lord. Obedience also requires that we NOT judge others. 7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Obedience may be the truest form of worship.
There is no good EXCUSE for not worshipping the Lord…unless you don’t have a saving knowledge of the Lord. His love for us requires worship…. which is why we do it… whether in sickness, health, love, or hurt…. in plenty, and in little… God’s sacrificial love has saved us and there is no other response but worship when we consider His goodness and mercy which endures forever. So there it is… we’ve all won the LOTTERY, all we have to do is accept it… so go ahead FREAK OUT… and don’t judge other people when they do the same thing.
What are your thoughts???? I’d love to hear them!!
Hello to the world that I’ve been neglecting for some time now. I do truly apologize for my absence. I’m going to bring this BLOG to you REAL though… I mean I’m gonna let you inside some of my greatest fears and discouragements so that I can make some sense out of the struggles that I’ve faced for the last 15 years as a singer. The truth is that it has only been in the last year or so that I’ve finally come to the realization that I’m not just some guy who worked his tail off with less talent and therefore figured out how to create a viable career in music. Lets be honest, the people that I most look up to in this world are now some of my peers. I always hoped that in getting to know them I would find out that they were just like me…. limited in some way or another, but blessed with an amazing ability to work at their craft until they just figured it out. I am sad to say that the closer I get to these people the more I find that they are exactly what the public thinks they are…. AMAZINGLY talented. From Bart Millard, to Mac Powell, Steven Curtis, to Matthew West, Mark Hall, Russ Lee, Michael Tait, Matt Hammitt etc. etc. I’ve always been a little bit frustrated when I got close to them because they could do something easily that came with a lot of difficulty for me: SING.
I know what you’re thinking… “yeah but Jason, you’re a great singer too” and yes, I do believe that… but honestly not until the last 2 years have I started believing that I was great too. Why??? Because all of the other people mentioned above seemed so bullet proof. They never seemed to have off nights… and notes that I just can’t physically sing came out of their mouths like it was nothing. Obviously the closer I got to these people the more that I heard them night after night after night, the more in awe of them I became. Likewise, I became more and more concerned that I wasn’t really meant to do what I doing because obviously God hadn’t given me the natural talent that he had given all of them. I literally started thinking that maybe it would be better if I was just a guy off the stage who designed services and was a “Worship Pastor” who never sang and only did artistic development in the younger budding artists that would be in our churches worship program….. to say nothing of Building429. I literally believed that Building429 was actually held back by my inability to sound like the rest of the CCM world that ruled the radio… so it was a forgone conclusion that sooner or later we would be done and moving on… after all if God wanted us to continue to do this he would’ve given me the same natural abilities as the others artists in our industry RIGHT????
I used to get so frustrated that I couldn’t sound like Bart Millard… no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t do it. But God doesn’t need another Bart Millard does he? He’s got the one he wanted right now as the lead singer of Mercy Me. How about Jamie Grace? I’ve heard a hundred new versions of her recently… but none are going to work because God is interested in the unique. We are all made differently for a reason. He’s already got a Jamie Grace and she’s just plain awesome… why?? Because she’s not trying to be anything other than her… (just a quick lesson for all the budding artists). Coldplay knock off’s beware…. there’s already a Coldplay and God is an artists… not a replicator… he designs….. He begins…. he wants us to do the same.
Every year for the last 6 years I’ve had to go to a vocal doctor to make sure that everything is ok related to my vocal chords… it’s just something that every singer should do if they want to keep their voices long term. This day was like every other vocal doctor appointments I’ve had through the years… the constant fear that they’re going to say “YEP YOU’VE FINALLY BLOWN IT OUT>>>>> YOU’RE DONE” and if not that, then knowing full well that they would probably say something like …. “You’re vocal chords are swollen and you need rest”…. (which is always hilarious because B429 plays 150 shows a year and I was leading a ridiculous amount of services at my church as well this particular year. You can’t just start canceling shows or services because you feel bad… in fact Building429 has never cancelled a show, I’m proud to say, because of my voice)
Always the same fear accompanies the same doctors office… I HATE IT. Anyway, it came time for me to have my vocal chords “scoped” (which is the worst thing ever… picture gagging on a metal camera that is shoved down your throat… ugh) and as the doctor was taking pictures she suddenly paused. Then she said something horrifying… “OH, WOW” which in my head calculates as: “yep you’re done”. She asked, “Do you have a hard time singing high notes?” ….. “yeah???” “Well, you were made that way!” “What do you mean???” I asked. She continued: “You actually have a malformation of your vocal chords… they don’t form a straight line when you sing…. no matter how hard you try you will never be able to fully align your chords, which makes it easier for you to sing low and a LOT harder for you to sing high.” I thought in my head ….. ok so it’s official… I’m not supposed to be doing this. Then she said something that caught me off guard: “Yeah, but you also sound so cool because of the same issue….. The raspy sound of your voice is the way you were built too… air is always escaping through your chords even when you talk… which is what makes you sound so much like FM radio!”
What???? Wait, you mean you think I sound good???
That day was the day that I realized that my perceived weakness was actually my strength.
I’m surrounded by people who sing higher notes and with more ease than I can imagine, but no one sounds like me….. I sound like me. God made me differently.. and why would he want it any other way? Ultimately if it were my talent that made me great I could try to take credit for it… or even if it was my hard work that made me me… I could take credit again. But it’s not…. God made me sound the way I do… and therefore… He gets the glory. The doctor had suddenly opened my heart to remember the many thousands of conversations and emails that I had received over the last 12-15 years when people when on and on about the “way my voice sounds”. It finally occurred that those people knew something I didn’t: I was gifted to be ME…not a copy of everyone else.
I depend on God in ways that most people can’t imagine because for me to do what I do night after night and sunday after sunday demands an “all in approach”. If you’ve ever seen Building429 in concert you might have even thought… Geeze that lead singer is like, really into it… YEAH I AM…. but why??? Because to sing the stuff that we write I have to throw my whole body into the process. I sound like me… which is cool, but to do what I am required to do (sing in radio range) I literally have to go full on. It’s not emotion… it’s reality that I literally don’t know if I’m going to hit some of the notes until they fly out of my mouth… EVERY NIGHT I DON’T KNOW. There is only one way to feel confident that I’m not going to screw up….. GO ALL IN. TRUST THE LORD… Believe that there I am here for a reason and BELT IT OUT.
I’m currently on tour with NEWSONG… and they are the most AMAZING singers on the planet… so you can imagine my excitement when I heard they wanted me to sing a part in a couple of their songs…. ugh… I thought: “I’m gonna get killed”. Then came the rehearsal…. I sang the part the way that I would… and when I finished it they gave me this compliment: “We’ve never had anybody just OWN that part like you”. I smiled to myself and thought…. well if it was easy for me I wouldn’t have to throw everything I’ve got at it every time!! Mission accomplished… I didn’t suck and I had held my own on the stage with these RIDICULOUS vocalists.
The more that I opened my eyes to the fact that my perceived weakness was Gods intended strength the more that I began to notice the same thing in other people all around me.
He’s not a shredder… never really got into that…. but he is a TONE MACHINE. Why…. he could’ve decided that he just wasn’t cut out for guitar, but he didn’t….. he began to dig to find his own gifting…. and guess what it is?? TONE. Honestly speaking he is a tonal genius and nobody… short of “THE EDGE” himself can come close…. Is he going to rip a solo… maybe from time to time, but that’s not his strength… his strength is in making 1 guitar sound HUGE and fill an entire mix.
“The Edge”… the only reason he is “The EDGE” today is because he couldn’t play like everyone else… so he developed his own strategy on how he could still be Formidable. Now every worship band in America tries (horribly) to imitate him…. (BTW it’s dotted eighths guitar players)
Dude sounded like a FROG ya’ll. (What a wonderful world) Most people probably thought his voice was horrible the first time they heard it…. but it wasn’t horrible. It was different and therefore he was a MONSTER.
Nat “King” Cole:
Famous for his massive records… the guy was like me… he could only sing in 1 and a half octaves….. which is NOTHING…. but he honed it and made it AMAZING.
So with that said, I now come to the challenge… has it ever occurred to you that the thing that you want to give up may actually be God’s will for you…. it’s just not meant to be easy? What if the reality is that we need to rethink and revision what we consider a weakness? What if you could begin to believe that God may have actually given you your imperfection as a way to make you unique? So you’re not perfect…. neither are the ones who you think are so good. We are all imperfect, but your weakness is what makes you unique enough to stand out.
My last question of this BLOG could change your life
What is your weakness? How can you turn it into a STRENGTH… just by changing your perspective?
I had a young worship pastor stop me at a Building 429 show and ask me a very simple question. He said…. i know you don’t have a lot of time, but I’d love to hear your insight into worship and how you lead at your church. What is your best advice to a young worship leader. This is what I told him in a span of about 5 minutes before I had to be ushered to the bus to go to the next show.
INVESTMENT WITH TRUTH
Lock it in your head…. cause you’re a leader and that is what a large portion of team building is about...
Some would say excellence at any cost… I disagree…. because sometimes your pursuit of excellence costs you the ability to have a worship team/community. You know what I mean right. You have to have all A level players, so you have the same 5 players every Sunday and if any one of them ever bails on you, you’re in big trouble. Been there done that. Some churches remedy that by paying people, which works in some cases. I happen to lean away from that, and here’s why. The desire of any church is to be a place of refuge and development for tomorrow’s young artists. If you never allow younger and less experienced players to jump in, you eventually discourage them, or send them packing to another church. If, and I do mean if, a few of them eventually become great players on their own, they grow up with an entitlement complex. When they finally do get asked to play on the team, they want a paycheck right….. and let’s be honest it’s not fair to not pay them if they’ve worked their tail off to get to where they are and you’ve been paying the other big dogs the whole time. Not cool.
Others would say, and I’ve heard this one a ton too:”If someone has the desire to sing a song or play an instrument, then they should be given that opportunity”… or “We need to make sure that everyone feels welcome and is allowed to worship the Lord with their gift.” and “who are YOU to tell them that they can’t?” I always get a chuckle out of this one and say “Well…….I’m the worship pastor, in charge of protecting and leading the congregation to the throne of Jesus. That’s who I am and that’s why I’m saying NO!” The truth is that if these people want to worship the Lord with their gift, then they won’t have a problem doing an audition for the person that God has put in authority over worship for their church. Also, if their heart’s desire to worship Jesus, then whether they are on the stage or not doesn’t matter…. because it’s not about them right??
Often times in life you find that short term goals are at odds with the long term goals of any job or assignment you may be given. Long term you want your worshipping arts program to flourish. You want 50-60 people in the team so that you have a broad base of extremely talented servant hearted leaders that are available for any given Sunday. If that is what you desire then you WILL HAVE TO SUFFER a bit in the short term. The problem is that very few people have the ability to think long term. All they see is “THIS SUNDAY HAS TO BE GREAT”. I think that a bit of compromise here is where you end up winning.
This is how you do it:
You invest now…… in people who you see a gift. It may not be perfect yet, but you see something special in them….. then put them on your team with much stronger players. Here is the key though: You cannot just put them on your team without consistently challenging them. If they show up to rehearsals not knowing the songs, then you need to pull them aside and call them to account. If they show up on sunday and play a part wrong…. pull them and remind them that you expect more. Preparedness can take an below average player and make them part of an incredible team… and that’s your ACE of Spades.People on my teams know very well that I will STOP rehearsal on a dime and call them out if they don’t know what they’re doing…and that’s why they come ready to face the challenge. You can invest, if they understand that they better bring their A game every time they show up. However, without accountability, you will eventually fill your team with people who just aren’t cutting it. Worship will suffer and your church will fall into the abyss of lame worship, poorly played, with no heart. People in the congregation who constantly say things like: “I just love the heart of what they’re trying to do” and “they’re doing it for Jesus and that’s all that matters”…. and no one wants to go there. Suddenly the worship team that was meant to lead us the the throne, becomes the ANCHOR, robbing the congregation any chance of real worship. OUCH… we’ve all been to churches like that.
With a constant challenge coming from you, you will fill your team with people who are becoming great. Here’s my best way of helping you understand this:
People say that a true friend is someone who accepts you for you who are….. ( let me let out a sigh, as the sweetness of that rainbow colored statement melts my heart) now I’ll scream: NO THEY ARE NOT. A true friend knows who you could be in Christ and challenges your character constantly to become that person.
Likewise a great leader doesn’t accept your average effort. They know what you could be and drive you to be more than who you are.
This is the mentality that we have a Grace Community Church… we’re not perfect, far from it…. but we have grown our worship team from 10 to 60 in a matter of 2 years employing this strategy and on any given Sunday God is going to show up. Whether “Jason from Building429” is there or not doesn’t matter…. why??? Because I don’t sing every song, I let other singers sing. I don’t play every guitar part, I let other younger players do it. Because we saw a 16 year old drummer who could barely play on click challenged him…you wouldn’t believe how good that 18 year old is is now (wait till he’s 22). Because we saw a young acoustic player who had been playing for a year and thought… that guy is working HARD, let’s challenge him….. yeah he’s becoming one of our strongest electric guitar players. That has become a magnetic part of what we’re doing. Every week we have new people showing up who want to join the team. Every one gets auditioned, and some don’t make it. But when we see something special we pounce on it, because it’s not so much about today…. imagine what our worship program is going to look like in 5 years. When these kiddos are all fluent in the Nashville Numbers system, playing on click track in my studio every Thursday for rehearsal and every Sunday at Church. After they’ve been a part of recording several records. These guys are going to be KILLERS. They will be good enough to go on the road with any signed band, and it will all be because we were willing to suffer in the short term while challenging those who are weaker to become better than they were.
There it is:
INVESTMENT WITH TRUTH