HILLSONG WORSHIP ON TOUR, BUT DON’T CALL IT WORSHIP

This abbreviated article by JONATHAN AIGNER JANUARY 31, 2020 again from Patheos Discussions about Worship for Thinking People. You can go to the Patheos website to view the entire article. See also my posts Praise and Worship and More on Praise and Worship.

True worship doesn’t capitalize on entertainment pop culture.

According to ticketmaster.com, pricing for a general admission seat begins at $29 and goes up all the way to $61.50. Hillsong doesn’t come cheap!

If you want to shell out a mere $206 per ticket, you can achieve true worship bliss with the Awake package, which includes:

  • Meet and Greet
  • Photo Opportunity with Hillsong Worship
  • Refreshments (I’m assuming no beer and wine.)
  • Devotional with Hillsong Worship
  • Reserved Floor Seating
  • Dedicated ‘Awake’ Entrance
  • Pre-show Merch Shopping Opportunity (Additional fees apply, of course.)
  • Custom Lanyard
  • VIP Host Exclusive Gift Bag, including sticker, lyric book, Awake hat, pen, digital download

It’s not worship. That’s blatant false advertising.

That’s why I shout, “Wake up! It’s a huge deal!”

These sorts of acts, promoted by the so-called “worship industry,” have hijacked the authentic worship gathering, the beautiful liturgy of the Christian church, the source and summit of the Christian life, and using the same strategies as secular entertainment, they’ve turned it into a commodity. That is a grievous thing.

They might as well be calling it the “Awake and Give Us All Your Money” tour.

Worship Is Costly, But Admission Is Free

You’ve probably all heard the analogy that we’re all equal at the foot of the cross. There’s room on that level ground, of course. Admission is free. But it demands much of us, certainly more than a few bucks. When I hear people claim that they’ve gone to events like this, found momentary euphoria, and have worshiped as never before, I don’t just feel sceptical, I feel a sense of dread. The words of Bonhoeffer frequently echo in my mind.

“The word of cheap grace has been the ruin of more Christians than any commandment of works.”

This kind of worship goes part and parcel with cheap grace. They claim to bestow the gifts of God on whoever buys a ticket and shows up. After you’ve paid your admission, it requires absolutely nothing of you. The historic liturgy of the church has a different offer. “Come and participate in the life of the church, but be prepared to give of yourself.”

Worship is not a product. It cannot be bought and sold. That’s the grace of it all. The grace available to God’s people in worship is not something that can be bought, but once it’s bestowed, it is all-consuming.

MORE ON PRAISE AND WORSHIP

As mentioned in my earlier post entitled PRAISE AND WORSHIP, each of us is told to sing praises to God. Worship is corporate, it is not having someone with a microphone singing at them.

The worshipping church doesn’t consume music, it makes music. But the modern concept of a lead singer arose from commercial pop music, written for a soloist or a small group. It’s no wonder, then, that most live pop worship sounds quite similar. A “leader” singing with pop inflection and affected tone, while ad libbing and improvising rhythm and melody, doesn’t ask of a congregation, “Sing with me.” It says, “Approach congregational singing like it’s a concert.”

This further article is based on an article by Jonathan Aigner, 6 Reasons to give up listening to contemporary Christian music on http://www.patheos.com website under Discussions about Worship for Thinking People. It outlines why contemporary Christian music is not God honouring. I have chosen to reproduce four as being significant.

1. It’s Derivative: The Christian music industry is committed to versions of popular music forms instead of true artistry, its creative value is even lower. Simply put: it’s mostly unremarkable with no artistic merit of its own.

2. It Isn’t Actually “Christian”. People can be Christians. Songs cannot.

3.  It Usually Perpetuates Bad, Shallow Theology: Beyond that, if the “Christian” music you consume is the usual top 40 fare, its spiritual content is dubious. “Honestly, most of the theology I learned from contemporary Christian music was anecdotal, at best. Songs of personal testimony can be perfectly fine, but they aren’t everyone else’s experience, and they aren’t always rooted in sound theology or biblical interpretation. It could make me feel good things about Jesus, but it can’t form a theology that will carry you through a life of faith in an ugly world. They might feel uplifting, but if you really actively listen and reflect on the content, it might not be something you want to be passively consuming. Unfortunately, the fact that such dreck is labelled and promoted as “Christian” baptises it in many people’s minds, and they allow it to water down their understanding of faith and the gospel.”

4. It Encourages Christian Escapism; “The life of faith I’ve found that most people who listen to “Christian” music constantly are doing so as a diversion from any sort of unpleasantness, including boredom. But the gospel message is not one of escapism, and the substance of our faith is not meant to take our worries away and keep us happy all day long until we finally leave this world and move into our heavenly hotel room.”

As people called by Christ, we are called to deep thinking, grappling, and ultimately, holy action. Saying yes to the gospel is also saying yes to confronting sin and the darkness.

It is not something we use as an ointment to heal all our troubles. I find the bulk of commercial “Christian” music is meant for filling the space between the already and the not yet. Keep on filling that space, and one day you’ll find out that you missed the point of the redeemed life.

PRAISE AND WORSHIP

Each of us is told to sing praises to God. Worship is corporate, it is not having someone with a microphone singing at them.

The worshipping church doesn’t consume music, it makes music. But the modern concept of a lead singer arose from commercial pop music, written for a soloist or a small group. It’s no wonder, then, that most live pop worship sounds quite similar. A “leader” singing with pop inflection and affected tone, while ad libbing and improvising rhythm and melody, doesn’t ask of a congregation, “Sing with me.” It says, “Approach congregational singing like it’s a concert.”

We are living in the days of the celebrity Christian. We have witnessed the advent of the “worship superstar,” especially over the last two decades. Granting a microphone to a musician is offering them a whole lot of power and prestige. Some take the opportunity to showcase their own affected pop styling and build their celebrity in the mould of so many others. Some have exploited the vulnerability of an emotionally-compromised congregation  Just look at the record sales for the so-called “worship industry.”

Because our culture is so used to listening to music for entertainment, we make our own celebrities. Make no mistake about it. The church does this, too. We begin to associate worship with a person and a performance, rather than corporate prayer through Word and Sacrament.

Listen to the attached performance and understand why Pastor Andy Savage. said the following: “And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason you never give a worship leader the microphone. This particular Sunday will be forever chronicled on the internet and known as the Sunday Lowpoint, certainly not the Highpoint…