In the midst of a christian culture that insists on excellently executed worship, with strobe tuned guitars, super clear vocals and musicians that practice well enough to play a network late show, we have to remember that sometimes worship needs to be sloppy.
This week I am leading to a group of 150 high school students at a Christian soccer camp. We meet for worship at 10 pm, after they have had a long day of working hard. They may or may not be that "churched". When thinking about all of these elements, as well as the contextuality of the service, I decided to do a few things different. There is just three of us playing...bass, drums and guitar. I decided to go with my electric just to shake things up.
So we show up to a room last night with a tile floor and cinderblock walls. The ceiling is reminiscent of a gym as far as height. The sound system was simple, just a single vocal microphone and no monitors. This is a room where I in the past would run a 32 channel board with full racks and stacks (audio engineer speak for alot of gear). To make matters worse was my pedal board power died so I was stuck with making a decision out of 8 pedals to 1 pedal. The room was hot and swampy and my Telecaster that has a reputation for being temperamental when the weather is nasty lived up to it's reputation. But I was playing simple songs with great musicians and none of this was a problem. It was essentially like playing in a honky tonk.
It was a sloppy night, but it was a great night. The beauty of simple songs stripped down off all the ornaments that characterize modern worship came through. The students sang and sang hard. It was hot is there, and by the end we were all sweaty and out of breath. It is times like these that we really see the root of worship is a total abandonment and devotion. Sometimes it has to be sloppy for us to remember these things.