As I’ve said in the past, we often wake up to a world that has changed over night. I was looking back through some of my posts from a few years ago, and it was kind of comical to think back through some of the transitions we (as a culture) have had in the past few years. I remember back in the day that we actually had our own social network on Ning. Those were the days.
When we started WMC, the iPhone had just come out less than a year prior to our launch. Think about how much has changed since the first iPhone. I’m pretty sure things like Instagram weren’t a thing. In 2008, there were a paltry 145 million people on Facebook (Compared to the more than 1.3 billion now). In 2008 there were 300,000 tweets a day, compared to the 603+million today.
The world is a very different place today. There was another Tsunami in 2011, one that was capture and broadcast from thousands of people’s smartphones.
In our churches, people use their phones to read the Bible, pay tithe, check in and dozens of other things just on Sunday morning. The world is a very different place.
Sometimes it can be hard to keep up. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to pursue and what to neglect. With everything so quickly changing, how do we lead worship?
Before the smartphone revolution, people were already highly entertained, now people spend even more time being entertained on the phones watching YouTube videos and filling out quizzes to see which Walking Dead Character they are most like.
If people were entertained 10 years ago, they are so entertained now that we probably need another word for it.
What does that mean for us as churches and worship leaders?
It can feel daunting. It can feel like the sun has set on the church and there’s no way for the church to stay relevant. But really I think it’s quite simple.
1.) We evaluate what comes.
We have to stay engaged with culture or we risk losing the opportunity to lead anyone. Just like no one uses a pager, a map or a dot matrix printer anymore – the church will be something no one uses if we are out dated in our mode.
2.) Cling to the timeless truth of the Gospel.
No matter what changes or the speed with which change comes, the truth of the Gospel never changes. We must hold tightly to the cross. As Paul says, we must press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us.
3.) Search for elements that have depth and feeling.
For many churches this is an either/or discussion. We either have depth in worship or we have feeling. But to delve deep into one and neglect the other is to dismiss how we were designed to worship. Jesus said His worshippers would worship in spirit and truth. While there is much debate about what Jesus really meant by this, it’s not a stretch to say that Jesus wanted his worshippers to use their minds and souls. Worship could no longer be a merely intellectual pursuit as the pharisees had made it, the church also needed to develop a spiritual response to our God.
4.) Bring in aspects of our Deep and Rich history.
As many people skim the surface of life through their constant consuming, more and more people are recognizing how shallow life can be if we let it. In our pursuit of staying current so we know what funny video our friends will be talking about tomorrow, we constantly chase what’s next but never look at where we’ve been. There are aspects of our faith that many young believers don’t even know exist. Dig into our history and share what you find with your church.
5.) Focus on Jesus
Jesus must be at the starting point of everything we do as worship leaders. It cannot be styles. It cannot be our egos. It cannot be production value. It cannot be keeping up with the church down the street. It cannot be the top 40 worship songs. Those don’t drive us, those are not the most important thing. That’s not where we start. We start with Jesus, we focus on Jesus, we end with Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. It’s always been about Jesus, it will always be about Jesus.
So, the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by the changing world around you, when you’re feeling like you can’t keep up, just take a step back, take a breath and remember why you’re really there. If we all do this, everything else will fade into oblivion as people are amazed by our amazing savior.