Praise and Worship for the Modern Age vs Church Growth
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“I Must Decrease”


There is a specific reason why people have adopted musical simplicity in worship and praise music. I remember back in the ’70s watching a Calvary Chapel band called The Road Home, headed by a piano player named Bill Sprouse. I loved to hear the band play because Bill had such a wonderful voice and the band really knew how to minister to the inner needs of people. However I didn’t think much of Bill as a piano player. At the time I was involved in a musician’s fellowship at Calvary Chapel and one evening they separated all the instrumentalists into mini seminars led by someone who played their particular instrument. I ended out in Bill’s group. During the seminar he sat down to the piano and absolutely “cut out the jams.” It was at that point that I figured out what was going on with these folk. They could play all right. They just chose not to do so because they saw their musical function as drawing people to God rather than themselves.

In that same vein Jack Hayford in Manifest Presence viewed the display of artistry as a deterrent to worship when he wrote that “the ‘concert’ tradition of extended musical interludes within a piece – e.g., giving eight bars to the drummer, the guitarist and a wind instrument to ‘get in their licks,’ much to the delight of the audience and manifest in applause for each artist – is not, to my view, consistent with a worship service . . . it is simply not productive to the intention of a worship service.” In other words, the display of talent gets in the way of the goal of much of contemporary worship today, which is to take people into the presence of God.

“And for us today,” wrote Temple Bob Sorge in Exploring Worship, “the goal for our worship should be that we come to the point where we do not see anyone or anything around us, but we become totally taken up with God. That is the supreme goal of worship: to see only the Lord.”

This theme of eliminating distractions that get in the way of gaining access into the supernatural world is also held by New Age proponents. In this vein R. J. Stewart wrote in The Spiritual Dimension of Music, “The elemental exercises offered here have a number of effects, one of which is the gradual ability to de-tune (not ignore or merely shut out) the effect of unwanted music. In the case of strong and debilitating rhythms, such as that used in rock music, some of our exercises may even be used in the traditional manner of the focus, prayer or mantrum, where they literally cut across unwanted influences.”

Therefore the mantra of our new age of contemporary worshippers is: “’He must increase, but I must decrease.’” (John3:30MKJV)

Though humility is of essence, Bach’s way of doing things makes better biblical sense. After he wrote his extraordinary musical pieces Bach would put in the manuscript the words: “To God Be the Glory.” Therefore, the musician who believes with all his heart that his job is to glorify God through his talents will be the one who can openly display his talents in a manner that points to the magnificence of the glorious God whom we serve. It is for this reason that Franky Schaeffer’s book Addicted to Mediocrity is so powerful when he talks about the fact that the church ought to be excelling in the arts. The lesson here is that when the Christian musician involves himself in worship and praise ministry he needs never to hold back the artistry. Worship and praise music is not about the latest cliches or hip things to put in the lyrics, writing hooks, making CD sales or dragging people into church. It is not about aiming for Dewey’s lowest common denominator. It is all about glorifying God with excellence.

Stay tuned for more!

The preceeding blog is an exerpt from Don Wigton’s book “Holy Wars.” Click here to purchase:

For free praise music, charts and study helps go to the Wigtune Praise and Worship Sitehttp//


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