, ,

I’ve gone through a process in my worship leading.  As a self-avowed postmodern Gen-Xer, I’ve loved new forms of praise music – especially some of the newer praise choruses and new hymns.  I cut some of my musical chops accompanied by a pump organ in a rural southern United Methodist Church in Mississippi, though, so I love the old hymns as well.  One of the criticisms I’ve heard about some of the newer music is its inherent narcissism.  Many of the songs seem to be all about me, what God does for me, and how I relate to God.  Yet, the context in which many of these songs are used are corporate settings, where it’s not about me, but about us – the Church, the body of Christ.

I used to not be phased by this at all, thinking that people were just looking for something to complain about, but then I got to thinking.  One of the biggest problems in the church in America is that we have become slaves to the ideals of individualism.  One of our cultural icons has been the Marlboro Man – the guy out on the range by himself, taking care of business without need of anyone’s help.  We lift up as role models people who “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps” and we esteem the entrepreneurial spirit.
These, however, are contrary to the interdependence and community called for by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, where we depend on one another, bear one another’s burdens, and spur one another on to good works.  For this reason, I have become very selective about the songs we sing in our church.  I’ve even taken it upon myself to change lyrics of some songs to reflect a corporate nature and to emphasize that we are one body made of many parts – that together we are the bride of Christ.  One such song that we are working on right now is Tim Hughes – below is the version that we are using in our church:

God in our living, God in our breathing

God in our waking, God in our sleeping

God in our resting, God in our working

God in our thinking, God in our speaking

Be our everything, Be our everything

Be our everything, Be our everything

God in our hoping, God in our dreaming

God in our watching, God in our waiting

God in our laughing, God in our weeping

God in our hurting, God in our healing

I encourage all worship leaders to think about the lyrics closely.  What kind of faith are those lyrics encouraging/cultivating?  Is it a private spirituality that doesn’t need anyone else (i.e. an “it’s just me and Jesus” kind of faith)?  Or is it a faith that stresses the community of believers, working together for the Gospel?  Do our songs stress only what God does for us, or do they praise God for who God is without making requests of God?  It’s worth all our time as worship leaders to think about it.