The Tension Between Celebration and Seriousness in Worship

The Tension Between Celebration and Seriousness in Worship

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time with fast songs.

I just don’t really care for them. I don’t really love to jump around and dance. My default life disposition isn’t celebration and exuberance. I’m what you would call steady—cool, calm and collected. My emotions don’t drop too high or too low.

Some of you may be the opposite. You eat up the fast tunes. The more four-on-the-floor, synth driven happy grooves the better. Get rid of the minor chords, for God’s sake, you want to celebrate! You have no problem jumping or spinning or actually dancing. When things take a serious turn, you start to feel more uncomfortable.

Every worship leader wants to see people be more expressive. Nobody likes a bored room. We want to see people engage—sing, lift their hands and move a bit.

But we all know the tension. In our gatherings, we have a wide variety of people:

• Those who are new to faith and don’t know what to do.

• Those who were dragged to church and don’t want to be there.

• Those who are suffering.

• Those who “worship inwardly” but reject outward expression.

• Crazies.

Unless you’re leading a high energy youth rally, it’s really hard to get everyone on the same page, doing the same thing. But worship leader, you don’t have to. Your job is to model, love, instruct and shine a light upon the manifold glory of God.

And help people develop healthy rhythms of worship.

Healthy Rhythms of Worship

That’s what I want to talk about a bit—a healthy rhythm of worship expression. There needs to be a value for celebration and seriousness in the life of every worshiper. All of us—with all of our quirks, temperaments and personalities—need to celebrate. We need to worship with exuberance and emotion.

There are also seasons of suffering where a lament is needed. Different seasons call for different expressions, in one sense. In another, no matter the season we are always declaring the goodness and the greatness of Jesus.

Too many of us chill in the outer courts observing, criticizing and comparing ourselves to others. But we’ve lost our desire to bare our souls and enter in to worship.

Here’s the catch: Yes, worship is a lifestyle. But worshipers actually worship. It’s not just about setting up accountability, systems and habits in your life to make wise choices.

Yes, it is good to have an accountability partner so you stop looking at porn. It’s good to have a daily rhythm of Bible reading. It’s good to stay away from media that pulls your heart away from beholding the beauties of God.

But you can’t just automate your worship. It’s more than a life plan and a task list. You also must express it corporately with your church. There’s a special beauty in that expression.

You…with your personality and temperament need to celebrate. You need to shout for joy. You need to sing to the Lord a new song.

You…with your personality and temperament need to contemplate the beauty and majesty of God. You need to think deeply about deep truths and press into the mystery.

Of course, we all don’t need to look the same. But we need to celebrate and we need to be serious in our pursuit of Jesus and our joy in Him.

I’d love to hear from you.  

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David Santistevan
David is a Worship Pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, PA.