Two cents for the hurting and blubbering worship leaders

I’ve done a lot of research lately. Call it the consequences of a lifelong nerd falling down a rabbit hole. Alice would be proud!

An almost lifelong friend recently “deconstructed” from the Christian faith. I have a lifetime invested in this faith, part of which, I walked along side this friend…closely. So I wondered…

What causes someone to give up a lifetime for a new lifetime? Is there anything that would possibly convince me to walk away? What reasons, what heartache, what analytical study, what abuse, would separate life from life and truth from truth?

For me, the answer is nothing. I’ve firmly established my convictions and beliefs and cannot be persuaded of anything contrary. But I get it. I really do.

I despise spiritual abuse! It is abhorrent! And I believe a Jesus would be in the midst of it with chords turning tables and agreeing with me. There is no excuse. I despise the notion that anything, power, ministry, or money, could be more important than the rights of a victim! There is no excuse.

But this does not disqualify the gospel. And there are far too many thoughts swirling in my brain tonight to make this fully cohesive.

For tonight, I will say that I’ve seen multiple posts surrounding the idea of Christian worship that are grating at me. I’ve been leading worship over half of my life so this inherently bothers me.

They say that worship music is manipulation preying on the emotional response of the congregant. That the music is derived in such a way as to inherently initiate an emotive response and is, therefore, manipulative by nature.

I take issue with this on multiple levels but tonight let me give you an experiential example.

Yes, music is moving. Music speaks to the soul. No one can deny this. Why it is supposedly wrong to incorporate this with our faith traditions is lost on me. Even in scripture, Saul calls for a musician to soothe him. The musicians went into battle before the army. There is precedented truth to the power of music to inspire and transform. Why is that wrong?

The criticism is that worship music inherently coerces an emotional response and we, worship leaders, manipulate with chords and progressions designed to elicit said response from the hearer.

I couldn’t help but think of a moment in our worship services this past Sunday when we sang the song, “Hymn of Heaven”. The lyric to the second verse says, “And every prayer we prayed in desperation. The songs of faith we sang through doubt and fear. In the end, we’ll see that it was worth it. When He returns to wipe away our tears”

For reference, I was on stage performing this song. So don’t think for a moment I wasn’t involved? But, in the moment, I wasn’t feeling the emotional resonance of chord structure and performance. I was caught up in the lyrics, the truth of my life this year and the prayers “I’ve prayed in desperation”, and the “songs of faith I’ve sang through doubt and fears.” And the beauty of what God has done in my life recently.

I lead/backup vocal worship almost every week of my life for the last 30 years and this few months, I found myself reaching for life at the wellspring of hope because life isn’t easy. You don’t know my journey, but if you did…

We aren’t immune to suffering.we aren’t promised tulips and roses.

Sometimes we get prayers of desperation. Sometimes, there isn’t sense to be made of the chaos. And my full story is a song for another blog post…

But as I sang this song from the stage on Sunday (along with others equally as beautiful and impactful), tears filled my eyes and I had to be “that girl” on the church’s livestream pulling myself together while my tears fell.

Because if it weren’t for the gospel…

If it weren’t for truth…

If it weren’t worth it…

I wouldn’t be here.

Someday I will share the whole story. Someday, I will explain but for now…I hear the naysayers calling “manipulation” and I praise God above that He is REAL!!! He is TRUTH! And He is enough for me.

I’m truly sorry for the voices lost to spiritual abuse. My heart breaks for you more than I can express but I please don’t judge God on the horrible injustices of people who call themselves his. Find Him. Reconstruct to the true and loving God who is so infinitely valuable and faithful!

Two cents for the hurting…how can I help? I’m listening.

Who can imagine

I sit at the table of a hundred imaginings

Holding my breath for the light

And the darkness can feel suffocating at times

But the light encompasses

And I wait for the music to rescue so I can sing along

But tonight, melody is fleeting

But God…

Superlative and encompassing

Beautiful and victorious in the midst of me.

Hope can be found in breathes…in moments when I inhale and exhale song and melody and the brooding chaos of the ache.

Tonight, the song can capture the waking wonder and I can imagine tomorrow

And maybe that’s enough

I’ll keep you posted.