By: Mduduzi Nhlapo
7 Corinthians 14 v 26, Ephesians 5 v 19-20
Dear Worshippers/ servants
Let me start by saying that this is by no means a message driven by malicious intent, vendetta or controversy that might sit on one’s mind, except that it is a universal message and by universal I mean that it applies to any church in the body of our Saviour.
Once again it is imperative that I assure you this is an opinion, but it is derived from conviction which I am blessed with. I am compelled to share this not as a platform to debate but merely as fulfilling a duty.
Firstly, it is a growing concern in my heart seeing the current format of the “gospel genre”, it is a concern because we do not only drag these notions into our cars or mini Hi-Fi’s (such as the ones in our bedrooms) but ultimately they land in our churches, specifically on stage where our worship teams lead.
The concern is that in our need to be relevant with “the times” and to make church more exciting particularly for the youth, we have somehow lost the plot because the desire to be ‘’hip and happening’’ has surpassed the very reason for which we worshippers have been called to minister. We find ourselves more into creating the vibe in the songs than we are with how relevant, helpful and equivalent to our purpose is the content and value of music.
In our quest to be relevant, the purpose is being sidelined. I do not speak from hearsay or a point that cannot be substantiated, I do not only attend church and visit others too, I am a huge fan of our local radio station Rainbow FM, and it has been through observing that I have picked up that almost all music out there is drawn towards making us ‘’move’’, hence you find people taking hymns or popular songs and just simply decorating it with moves and a nice beat.
I am no antagonist of dancing, in fact I advocate for that, but I believe as worshippers we should draw the line between dancing in church and indulging in oneself and others.
What is our purpose if we achieve our standard of being ‘vibey’ yet lives do not change and hearts do not repent? Church will then become a huge party or a social gathering for us if it has not already.
Fact is as per the cited scriptures of this article, the duty of a worship team is ministry and it is not an external body/organ or different dimension of church. It serves purpose in the church service as a whole and thus being disconnected in it can be the result in people coming in and out of church like water in the mouth of a whale and out its gills, unchanged.
I feel we need to retract back to the extent to which we are more responsible with content and concerned with the spirit with which some of these songs or moves have formed. We can ‘vuma’ and ‘kwasa’ all day long at church and be glad that young people are having fun but if there is no progress or gain in His kingdom through this: of which I believe there is a substantial lack thereof. We should ask God to develop songs of teaching, so His kingdom may be populated with changed and reformed souls. Whether we like it or not, music is of ministry’s number one mandate.
Therefore, in closure I say let not our hearts long more for dance and fun in church then it does for the message, for our purpose lies more in ministry than in making church fun.
The other topic of concern I have is one that is very sensitive to me and I still seek greater authority and wisdom from God pertaining to it. It is the level at which we scrutinize others and create a standard which is inconsistent and makes the idea of worshipping on stage an achievement or accomplished dream. My concern is that we are subjects of a standard which we ourselves are not loyal to but by preference we are more forgiving and understanding of failure to comply amongst ourselves than we are of those outside the team. Therefore we have many gifted people in our churches sitting as spectators on their purpose because they are either fearful or feel unworthy to be with us on stage. This is relevant to both the concerns I cited on this topic: some people are of the view that to be in the worship team one has to walk on water which for the purpose and honour which I have for ministry in music, I fear because some of us are sinking and some have long ago drowned but we are desperate to keep them afloat. What does that mean for the aspiring worshipper?
Hence I am lead to believe that this may be why once some have ‘’accomplished’’ being a worship team member they either stagnate or retrograde in their spiritual lives and because at times they arrive on stage with us and they realize that it is not as pure and perfect as we make it out to be and fall into the same immorality and sinful nature that some worship teams possess but of course at that level it is contrived and inconspicuous hence it becomes normal.
So on what premise are people qualified or refused serving in worship teams? And does this standard continue to find effect even after we have been ordained? Or does it develop privilege after we are members? I am not encouraged or sure at this stage by the measures we have taken to invite others into worship teams and the extent and reasons to which we shut the doors to some, particularly when we lack transparency ourselves.
The fact that someone’s sinful nature is public opinion does not make them less deserving or sinful than he or her who is with us but whose sins are secret or private property. This I am sure of. That is, somehow my direction towards alleviating the notion of hierarchy in worship teams, by destroying that notion we can encourage those whom the stage for the purpose of numbers cannot accommodate to be worshippers beyond stage and see that the stage is an extension of what we do in private and in lifestyle and not our crown.
People must be encouraged to know that we may not all be on stage but we serve the same Lord and we have equal duty as them to use what God has given, irrespective of being seen doing it. And for us we will not hold ourselves to our standard but that which is prescribed by Gods Word.
My revelation is drawing to the teachings of “he without sin cast the first stone” however I am not totally clear on it but will write about it at a later stage when I have better knowledge. My stance with reference is for now “let us not throw bricks whilst we live in glasshouses”.
This is where I stop for now, your view and help will be greatly appreciated. AMEN.