I could say a lot about all this, but for the sake of brevity, I will just toss out some random thoughts that came out of this Sunday.
Typically the answer to this question would be things like crying babies, cell phones, or microphone feedback. I would agree that these things could be distracting (although crying babies are so common place in my church that I rarely notice it anymore).
But, what other things can take our focus and attention away from our task in worship?
I suppose the first question should be “what is ‘our task’ in corporate worship?” Without getting into too much of this particularly complex question, I will simply say that our task in worship is to praise, glorify and adore the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to love, to fellowship with, to edify and to disciple each other. Distraction comes in the form of those things that take our focus away for a moment from this task. (A great resource for further study on the meaning and purpose of worship read John Frame‘s book, Worship in Spirit and Truth.)
I am learning that I get easily distracted from my wife at times. We will be working in the kitchen and she will ask me to cut up an onion. Then when I go get an onion and start to remove the skin, I might notice that the trash is too full. So then I will start to take out the trash. After changing the trash bag, I might notice that I want to listen to some music or I need a drink of water or something. Then I look over and see my wife cutting up the onion herself, and now she is a little grumpy, too. Distractions in worship can be much the same. They may start out as real practical things or may seem to be necessary at the time. Sometimes I will realize that the service is over, and I have missed the whole thing because I was distracted.
Here’s what I’ve been trying to process this week:
This past Sunday, we sang a song called, “I Give You Glory” that came from Times Square Church. This song has an exciting fast mambo feel when we perform it and (if you check out this link, you will see what I mean.) When we practiced this song on Sunday morning, all of us on the team felt like the song ended too soon. We were enjoying singing and playing so much that we felt like this song could go on for a bit longer. So, I felt like the most stylistically authentic way to add more to the song would be to have a guitar solo in the middle to break up the repetition enough to be able to sing the chorus again. The appropriate guitar solo sound to mimic in this style, I felt, was Carlos Santana. So that is what we did. This week, I have gotten probably ten or more comments from people in my church saying that they loved that part of the song and each one identified that it was a ‘Santana’ style solo.
Did my solo distract them from worship?
Was the congregation focused on this songs expression of Jesus’ saving work in their lives and their faithful response when all of a sudden they were jarred out of that focus by thinking either, “Wow, Kirk is such a cool guitar player!” or maybe “I remember listening to Santana when I smoked pot back in the sixties before I was a Christian.” ?
I don’t think it was. The congregation of my church is comfortable with guitar solos so I don’t think it took them out of their focus.
What do you think?