Recently a comedian made a parody video about Christian music. In the video, a fledgling young group of worship artists meet with executives for a Christian record label, who proceed to suggest every single Christian-music-cliche you could imagine. If I’m honest, it was pretty hilarious. As a worship pastor who sometimes struggles with the insane amount of copycat worship music, it made me laugh.
On one hand, I applauded the satire. I spent a lot of years being angry about the state of creativity in the church. But I wound up disengaged and apathetic about the Church and confused about the idea of worshiping God in general.
Perhaps you can relate? You find yourself called to lead God’s people in musical worship but often frustrated with the lack of creativity or quality in available music. I believe this is an important and pivotal moment for us as worship leaders. It is the fork in the road where we can choose to be cynical and jeer from the sidelines, or step into who God has called us to be as creative leaders of worship.
Cynicism is an easy defense mechanism, but it can be poison to a worshipful heart. Of all the enemies to modern worship, perhaps one of the worst is the spirit of cynicism?
At its worst, cynicism drowns out our thanks and praise with a vibe of subtle arrogance. It discourages teams and congregations, and it’s generally unsuccessful. But worse of all, it can strip worship leaders of our spiritual authority. After all, how many powerful worship leaders do you know that lead from a spirit of cynicism?
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Freedom to reject cynicism and make music that doesn’t compromise any of our creative values. Music that blesses the Lord’s heart and serves His church well. Michelangelo said that we criticize most effectively by creating. Not by complaining. Not through criticizing from the sidelines. But through joining our unique voice to the Kingdom and shaking things up a bit.
Instead of complaining about the current state of affairs, we need to offer better alternatives. We need to make better movies and better music. We need to write better books. We need to start better schools and better businesses. As the old aphorism suggests, we need to stop cursing the darkness and start lighting some candles!
Are you ever frustrated about the current state of worship music? Perhaps the ones who are the most angry are the ones God calls to do something about it? Not through cynicism and negativity, but through “lighting some candles” and giving the church our very best creative offerings. And our best attitudes.
We are the church. We are called to be God’s prophetic witness in the world. We have to reject cynicism and pursue encounters with God even if our culture feels fake. We have to love the church despite its brokenness and our own jadedness. And we have to pursue creative worship relentlessly and without apology.
Cynicism can be contagious, but so can a worshipful and servant-minded attitude. Here’s to turning off the voice of the critic (toward others and ourselves) and praying for a better creative future in the Church.
Nick Morrow is a singer/songwriter for the worship band Mountaintops, and a pastor at Common Ground Christian Church in Indianapolis. On a good week he enjoys writing songs, recording, hiking, reading, telling stories, & meticulously building Spotify playlists. He enjoys it all with his wife Melissa, their three kids, and a fake toy dog named Lucy Boy. He loves his life more than anyone probably should, and God has been kinder to him much more than he deserves.