"How was worship yesterday?"
That Monday-morning question kind of makes me cringe. It might be innocent enough, but it also might express how we see church gatherings these days - a consumer product that we evaluate as we do any other product: "How was the game?" or "How was the movie?" or "How was your vacation to Disney World?"
On a typical Monday morning, it usually means two things: how was the sermon, and/or how was the music?
Bryan Sirchio has written an important and needed book on the subject of worship music called The 6 Marks of Progressive Christian Worship Music.
A recent controversy about a worship song lyric (about which you can read an account here) has drawn needed attention to a rather unhappy status quo: we have some upbeat music with problematic theology, and some downbeat music with not much better theology.
Bryan Sirchio "gets" the key issues, and he has written a book that doesn't throw gasoline on "worship wars" contentiousness, but that does boldly proclaim six characteristics of the worship music we need:
1. Praise, justice, and the Fullness of Human Experience
2. Inclusive Language
3. Progressive Theology
4. An emphasis on both the individual and the community
5. Emotional authenticity
6. Fresh images, ideas, and language
He adds important chapters on issues like musical style, ego, and performance. And he also provides sources for progressive Christian worship music. All in all, this book is a gem, and way more people should know about it. (Hey Worship Leader Magazine - how about offering a review?)
Worship leaders - you may need to read this in secret, since the word "progressive" might be contraband in your congregation. But read it anyway. And pastors, you too. You couldn't ask for a more helpful book on something that we all cherish - albeit for a wide variety of reasons.