Superstars and Audiences
by Christopher Hawk
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Then came unto him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She said unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They said unto him, We are able. And he said unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father. And when the ten heard it, they were moved to indignation against the two brethren. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: But whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. -Matthew 20:20-28
Last night, I went to see Chris Tomlin and Kari Jobe on the Burning Lights tour. I'm not into concerts all that much, but I was interested to see what an arena worship event might look like. It didn't take me long to realize that it doesn't look much different from any other concert. Concerts of the world make the show itself the focus. At the end of it, I couldn't help but think the Chris Tomlin show had the same effect. Despite the fact that both musicians are worship leaders, the focal point of the show was . . . the show, not the Lord.
I don't want to be judgmental, and that is not the intent of this post. The intent of this post is to express concern about the state of the Church and its slumber. As I was watching the spectacle of the show last night, I thought, No wonder the Church is asleep. It's full of superstars and audiences. One response to the show that I heard by word of mouth was, "There's Chris Tomlin and then. . . there's everybody else!" Another that came first-hand was, "Kari Jobe nailed 'The Revelation Song' at the end. She was filled with the Spirit praising. She totally rocked it!" These statements are indicative of a sad state of affairs in the Church. We're creating pedestals for men to stand on. This is a symptom of worldly influence. We shouldn't be creating pedestals for our brothers and sisters just so they can fall.
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. -Matthew 23:12
Granted, Chris Tomlin and Kari Jobe are both responsible for their own response to the praise of others. But when we start becoming stumbling blocks to them, we hold a level of responsibility as well. We end up demanding them to entertain us, not to lead us into the presence of the Lord through their anointing. We get a taste of the world and its flair and we're sold. The praise we heap on them ends up not being for their anointing but for their skill in entertaining us.
I don't question Chris Tomlin's heart for God. The anointing on the songs he writes is powerful. And I don't question Kari Jobe's heart for God. Her worship periodically penetrated through the flair of the show. But when such flair is used in worship, it moves the attention of the Church away from the God that we should be worshiping and directs it toward the vessels themselves.
I'm concerned about the message Chris Tomlin is sending as a worship leader. What is it all about? Is it about lifting up the name of Jesus? His lyrics--even his new ones--would suggest that this is indeed the point. But, from a functional perspective, what is it really about? It's about the lights. It's about the volume. It's about the beach balls being tossed throughout the crowd. Considering the words of the songs and their worshipful nature, the show falls short. I make no claim as to knowing Chris Tomlin's reasons for setting up his show in such a way, but I can't help but think that worship is not the point at these shows. What message does that send to worship teams in the Church? I'm afraid that it sends the message that "reaching people" and "keeping people" is more important than having genuine encounters with the Holy Spirit. The lights create sensation. The volume of the music creates sensation. The added stimulation of throwing beach balls around adds further stimulation. But it all serves to replace the presence of God. We need to be careful in discerning whether a "feeling" is music-induced or Spirit-induced. There is a difference.
I spent a little bit of time in the rave scene in my younger days and most of the music I listened to before God called me back was hardcore punk rock. I know the effect the speed of that music has on me. It borders on ecstasy. I know what the power of music is--for good and for bad. I'm sure we all do. We need to be careful. We need to be sure, as worshipers, that we put Jesus on the pedestal, not worship leaders or the music or the lights or the feeling itself. Worship leaders need to be sure to put Jesus on the pedestal, not themselves or their shows. We need to be sure that our goal is to meet God, not a good show. We can go into the world for a good show. A good show is a poor substitute for the presence of God.
And while I understand that techno music and punk music and other types of music certainly can be used for the Kingdom, I also know that we have to be careful. I don't criticize Chris Tomlin for bringing a DJ on tour with him, but I'm concerned about it too. A couple of homemade videos from his Burning Lights tour are here and here. And a homemade video of an arena rave is here. What Chris Tomlin is doing is very similar to what is seen in arena raves. We need to be careful about what we're borrowing from the world.
I believe God is calling for his bride to be purified. He doesn't just want us to be pure regarding politics and religion. He wants us to be pure in all things. Worship is one those areas in which he wants us to be pure. He wants our worship to be pure. He doesn't want us compromising our worship with him so that we can seem more relevant to the world.
There is a child standing in the middle of the road. Her father is yelling at her from the yard, "Get over here! NOW!" She's dazed and in her own little world and rush hour is quickly approaching. The Church is in the midst of a disaster. Preparation is urgent.
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'THE WORSHIP OF WORSHIP' - - - "My people worship that which they do not know,... that which they do not understand. They come to worship in order to feel good,... not to worship ME. - Come out from among them, My Chosen,... come out from the judgement that I have chosen for MY House. Do you not know that judgement comes,... that it looms over My House and is impending? Come out..... I will not warn again. Their signs, wonders and miracles will be exposed for what they are,... and the demons that display them will be loosed upon them. - You choose 'feel good' religion?... Then you choose the judgement that follows it..... So be it."