Why We’re Quitting Worship

Erik Cooper —  July 11, 2011 — 9 Comments

We quit worship cold turkey.

Yep. As of yesterday, City Community Church put corporate worship on hiatus. Empty stage. No instruments. Just a hardwood floor, a stool, and some uncomfortable squirming (mostly from me).

Why? Well, why is exactly why. Let me see if I can explain.

Just a few short years ago, my co-pastor Nathan and I were worship leaders. Professionally. And while there were certainly more talented guys in our line of work, I feel I can humbly say we were pretty good at it. And not only in the ways that make cynics cynical.

So when launching CityCom became more than random “are we crazy” conversations over awkward text messages or bad Chinese food, I guess we assumed the successful template we had created for music in the church would naturally follow. That it should follow. Why wouldn’t it? Getting corporate worship to fall in line was the least of our concerns as we planted a new church.

Turns out, it obeyed about as well as my dog.

The people were different. The culture was different. The vibe was different. The focus was different. Everything was different. Everything but our expectations.

Old wine. New wineskins.

Last month, as I was watching one of our tireless, talented worship leaders function within this paradigm we had simply dragged and dropped, I couldn’t dodge the question any longer:

“Why are we doing this?”

I knew the standard answers. The Biblical ones. I’d taught them a million times.

But right there. In that moment. For those people. At that time. I had no answer. At least no good one. We had forced creative, passionate, worshipers into a very narrow channel. And I couldn’t seem to find the remote control.

Sometimes you have to stop doing something to remember why you were doing it in the first place.

So for the time being, we’re not going to open each service with the standard 22 minutes of music. We’re taking a break. A breath. A step back. A Selah if you like.

And I’m scared. Scared of the silence. Scared of the risk. Scared of making a big mistake. That’s why I know we have to plunge forward.

What if God wants to show us something brand new? Something fresh and full of life, desperately fighting to emerge as we rush to replicate normal. Or what if He’s just waiting to rekindle the why? Not the text-book answers. The one that stirs in your gut and erupts into the kind of worship expression the Father is longing for.

What if?

Have you ever had to stop doing something to remember why you were doing it?

9 responses to Why We’re Quitting Worship

  1. Assuming this is a prompting from the Holy Spirit, well done! May you and your church be blessed for being obedient and doing something so counter culture and so difficult.

    Be still… seek the will of God.

    • God bless you, pastor Erik, for your courage to be still (in the presence of a holy God), to hear His voice, and to follow His lead–He will not disappoint. I look forward to hearing how He moves in your congregation because of your collective desire to know and obey nothing else but Christ. Please keep us posted.

  2. Very intriguing idea! Worship should be nothing but the interplay of recognized Truth of the Creator from the words contained in the songs and the outflow of profound emotion from the heart of the Spirit-led tranformed creation (cf. John 4:24).

    Such worship can also flow from the proper recognition of such Truth contained in magnificent treatises of God, His attributes, character, and work. Such examples would be the Psalms, the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds, even engaging in fervent prayer such as from Daniel, Nehemiah, and in the Lord’s Prayer. Why not try reading and explaining those next time?

    Let us know how this goes! Soli Deo gloria!

  3. Wow! That is so cool! “Have you ever stopped doing something to remember why you were doing it?” ….uh, yeah! I’m still on sabbatical, and just extended it for four weeks. I was just reading this morning in the Psalms about how God wants us to have breathing room for our souls! So glad you are walking this out too and waiting for what He has next. Very nice!!

  4. You may already know this but Tim Hughes and his church did this very thing in the early 2000’s. Out of that time some great songs, Heart of Worship, for one were birthed. Not to mention the spiritual impact for the leadership personally. If God is in this great things WILL come!

  5. Hey Erik,

    Love your sensitivity here – “We had forced creative, passionate, worshipers into a very narrow channel”

    I’m curious how this played out? Did you write any follow-up posts?

    BTW – I really like your writing. Would love to hear what happened.

    Thanks, Rob

    • Thanks Rob. I should probably write a follow up to this. I’d like to say the heavens opened and God showed us a brilliant new insight, but overall I think we should solidified some things we already knew. Corporate worship is important, and the language of music is special. Sometimes you have to stop something to remember “why” you did it in the first place.

      I do think our channels are incredibly narrow though in defining worship expressions. More thoughts to come on this, perhaps soon. Appreciate the encouragement!

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