Praise and worship - a spectator’s event?
With the more-than-obvious transformation of praise and worship in churches over time, questions are being raised about whether the liturgy still serves its purpose as part of the programme, which is to facilitate the joint effort of a congregation in honouring God.
Last month, pastor of the Grace Missionary Church and chairman of the Missionary Church Association in Jamaica the Reverend Teddy A. Jones commented on the issue, noting that modern styles of praise and worship come off as cultic in some circles.
According to Jones, praise teams that do not see themselves as part of the congregation after they have done their part is worrisome.
"The idea that the praise and worship is the most important part of the service, that it is more important than the Word of God or that this is what worship is, as opposed to all of our lives being worship and that each aspect of the service is part of our corporate worship, is leading to the danger of it becoming an idol," he shared.
Jones was keen to point out that Jesus is the leader and focal point of worship, and not the praise team. He added that the team facilitates worship, therefore, self must be kept in priority after Christ, not before.
This statement stems from the air of exclusivity associated with the group.
It is this esteem, coupled with the too-frequent new songs, that alienates older members, and the high decibel levels at which they are being delivered transform the sessions into a performance, making praise and worship a spectator event.
It is Jones' belief that the event and its leaders need to be taken to the level where there is coordination. They need to work alongside the pastor to focus around themes and the central idea of each service.
"Persons should have the basic skill and take rehearsals and training seriously, but at the same time, always leave room for the Holy Spirit. Praise team members should also take the church's prayer and Bible study services seriously," he said, stressing, too, the importance of living a holy life.