The Problem with Worship and How to Fix It

In a piece titled “What in God’s Name is Happening in Christianity?”, John Cooper, front man for the popular Christian rock band, Skillet, recently wrote, “We are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20 year old worship singers as our source of truth. We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word.”

Mr. Cooper was writing in response to what seems to be a recent epidemic. Several young adult Christian celebrities who, for years, have publicly proclaimed their faith through words and music, have now publicly renounced it. It is disturbing to say the least. The natural question is “why?”

I think, and it seems that so does Mr. Cooper, that the primary reason involves a misunderstanding of the truth. Creatives, and I can say this because I am one, are as interested in the expression of feelings or the conjuring up of emotions as they are in expressing the truth. Therefore, while truth can be shared in art, very often truth in art is relative. It is relative to what the artist is experiencing at that very moment.

This isn’t new. Art, in all its forms, including worship music, has always been relative. The problem is when art in any form becomes our source of truth.

This is an important lesson for me, as a writer and speaker who seeks to share Biblical principles along with the stories of my life. I never want anyone to mistake my word for THE WORD. I never want to concern myself so much with the emotions I am feeling or trying to evoke that I fail to recognize blatant untruths that I may be promoting. I never want to dismiss unpleasant or inconvenient truths in favor of a feel-good message.

I want to be real with my readers. I want to share what I am experiencing, but more than that I want you to know the truth of God’s Word.  So, if there is ever a time when I say or write something that is in opposition to God’s Word, please call me out (preferably in love and in private). And please, never take my word for anything. Do your research. Open your Bible. Study it for yourself.

Because you see, the problem with worship in many churches today isn’t the age of the artists. The problem isn’t the personal experiences behind the lyrics. The problem isn’t the emotions that the songs evoke.

The problem is that Christian writers, artists, musicians, and audiences don’t know sound Biblical doctrine. As such, Christians are mistaking emotional experiences for the Truth.

If we claim to be children of God, then we have the privilege and responsibility of knowing His Word—not the words to a worship song or the words of an author—but His Word, the Bible, the ultimate Truth.

There is no shortcut for this.

We can’t sing a song, read a lesson from our favorite Christian author, or even listen to Sunday’s sermon and expect to get all that we need. What we need is a regular diet of God’s Word, and we need to read it, study it, and learn it for ourselves.

As Mr. Cooper so aptly wrote, “It is time for the church to rediscover the preeminence of the Word. And to value the teaching of the Word. We need to value truth over feeling. Truth over emotion.”

Because it is only through intentional study that we will really experience intelligent worship.