Great Stuff — the Problem with Praise Teams

The Praise Team has unwittingly become like the third grade jokester who invites you to have a seat, pointing to a chair. When you go to sit down, the jokester pulls the chair away, and you land on your backside. The Praise Team does the same thing musically; the congregation never knows (indeed, it can never know) how the Team will perform each stanza until the congregation hears it.

problemWithPraiseTeams

 

HT: Paul Schlueter

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

Great Stuff — the Problem with Praise Teams — 8 Comments

  1. “Prepare a resolution on worship that seeks to draw our people toward what is best. The shape of the Western Mass (the traditional order of the Divine Service, which is rooted in the very beginning of Christianity, and affirmed repeatedly in the Lutheran Confessions) should be maintained (i.e., Confession/absolution, Scripture, Creed, Sermon, Lord’s Supper, Dismissal). Music fluctuates and changes, but Lutherans should keep to the basic order. We want to encourage and foster every move toward the full use and appreciation of the historical treasures we have been given and whatever good things the Lord sees fit to add from the gifts and talents of His people in this day. We want to encourage reconsideration on the part of those who would treat the liturgical deposits as a finished work. We want to encourage reconsideration on the part of those who would replace entirely the voices of the past with the voice of the present. In other words, we want to make full use of the worship treasures of the past, present, and future.” – Pr Matt Harrison, Today’s Business, Issue 1, May 2013

  2. The difficulty identified in the main post may or may not present itself among praise teams. The referenced article itself recognizes: “Some [praise teams] introduce more variations between stanzas than others….”

    Perhaps it’s best not to overgeneralize? I’ve heard plenty of stodgily played organ music, but I would never characterize organ music itself as being stodgy. I’ve heard many hymns played so slowly it is distracting, but I would never characterize hymns as being tiresome.

    A few biblical thoughts about the old and the new:

    Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.” Ps. 33:3

    “…but test everything; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thess. 5:21

    “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” Ps.40:3

    “[S]ing to the Lord a new song.” Ps. 96:1, 98:1, 149:1; Isaiah 42:10

    “I will sing a new song to you, O God.” Ps. 144:9

    “…and they were singing a new song before the throne…” Rev. 14:3

  3. In the context of all the verses you quoted, a “song” is the account of what God has done to seek and save his people, the re-enacted story of God’s deliverance of his people, the passover of the angel of death, the crossing of the Red Sea and so on, handed down from generation to generation through the liturgical rites and traditions of the people.

    The “new” song is the long awaited story of God made flesh, the virgin birth, the cross and resurrection. This new song is now passed down from one to another much the same way as before, but with the true person and work of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob expressed and revealed ever more clearly. We sing to the Lamb who was slain with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, not in emulation of 1970’s pop culture, but outside of time, as those born from above into the eternal Kingdom of God.

  4. Regarding

    Carl H :

    Perhaps it’s best not to overgeneralize? I’ve heard plenty of stodgily played organ music, but I would never characterize organ music itself as being stodgy. I’ve heard many hymns played so slowly it is distracting, but I would never characterize hymns as being tiresome.
    A few biblical thoughts about the old and the new:

    Considering the passages in context as to their meaning is different than listing passages with the phrase “new song” in favor of new musical fads, styles or lyrics.

    Contextually “new song” means the song of the victory of the Saints through the redemptive work of God. That is, the new song is the Gospel.

    Psalms 33, 96, 98, 144 and 149 emphasize the final triumph of redemption and the final deliverance from evil. This is in contrast to the old song of crying out for deliverance and forgiveness–especially with respect to the Law of God. Revelation 14 is a clear demonstration of this context of victory through the Gospel and the final redemption where God enables his people to sing the new song of His redemption.

    Isaiah 42 is a prophecy about the fulfilment of the Promise of Redemption through the Messiah who would redeem also the gentiles. Their redemption, our redemption, is the basis for the new song, the Gospel.

    Psalm 40 is a specific example of the new song of the Gospel that David is enabled to sing because he has been forgiven and looks forward to the final triump

  5. The real problem with “praise teams” is that a church service should be a participation sport, not a performance. The congregation is supposed to be singing along with hymns, not being passive bystanders.

  6. Where “praise” becomes the operative descriptor of the “team” or service then the emphasis changes from God’s initiative to what is properly our response. And yet there “praise” biblically understood should not be mere emoting or telling God what we’re doing or devoid of doctrine or recounting the salvific deeds of Christ. That kind of thing would not be evangelistic either as one is saved by the Gospel (which is the message of Christ’s saving work for you).

    Praise teams are not even close to what should be the visual focal point either in the Divine Service. Christ instituted His means of grace in order that we may obtain saving faith in Christ. That should be where our eyes and ears are fixed, since those are the means of salvation. This is also part of the problem with adopting the worship practices of non-Lutherans and claiming that we’ve “adapted” them for Lutheran use, a very dubious claim.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.