Is something missing from our worship? Guest post by Dave Bilbrough (writer of Abba Father)
It was 3:30pm on what had been, up until then, a rather unremarkable Tuesday afternoon when I received the phone call. ‘‘We have a project that we might be interested in using your songs for over here in the States,’’ said the caller. Trying to sound relaxed, but with a growing sense of urgency, I quickly scrawled down the address in Nashville where the record executive wanted my CD demo to be delivered. ‘‘If it could be done promptly, that would be great,’’ he said.
This was terrific news for me. The market in the USA for worship music is huge and the opportunities and increased profile for my ministry could be very worthwhile if my songs were accepted. It was a priority – something to be done straight away! So, hastily I compiled a CD containing of a selection of my songs I thought would be of interest, opened up a new jiffy bag, slotted the CD case inside, wrote down the address, bought the stamps and popped it into the post box . . . done! I noticed on the post box that there were still ten minutes to go before collection time. ‘‘Job well done,’’ I thought. My thoughts swirling with grand illusions of the widespread approval my songs would receive across ‘‘the pond’’ and the resulting increase in influence that would follow (yes, it does happen to worship leaders as well!) I strolled back to my house.
Back inside I decided to break for a well-earned cup of coffee when I spotted, to my horror, the newly burned CD of songs, minus its case, lying on the kitchen table. Shock! It should have been nestling safely in its jiffy bag in the post box, but I had forgotten to actually put the thing in its case! Glancing at my watch I abandoned my coffee, scooped up the CD and was off at a sprint back to the post box. I arrived in time, caught my breath and tried not to look too embarrassed as the postman arrived and I sheepishly informed him of my predicament, meekly requesting my package back so that I could insert the all-important CD.
In short, the packaging was right, but something was very wrong inside – the most important ingredient was missing. It looked fine from the outside, but it wasn’t going to be of much use to anyone in Nashville!
Incidentally, the songs were eventually rejected for the project, but the whole episode served as a valuable lesson for me in how we can overlook the essence of the message we are seeking to communicate and become obsessed with all the ‘‘packaging’’ that goes with it.
In our desire for relevance and the pursuit of the new, it can be very easy for us to lose sight of the truth – that the ‘‘thing’’ we are striving for in our worship is simply to encounter and give thanks to Jesus. Our packaging may look attractive, the band might sound great, but without God’s presence our latest offering of musical expression will become a shallow reflection of the greater reality.
Beautiful and meaningful songs, wonderful as they are, can never fully satisfy as an end in themselves – they’re not meant to. Our worship is simply a vehicle to help us express and experience our true satisfaction in Christ.
Let’s treasure the song, the packaging, but understand that there’s something greater that’s going on as we worship. The song is not enough!
Dave Bilbrough, writer of songs such as “Abba Father”, “I am a new Creation” and “All Hail the Lamb” is one of the fathers of the modern day worship movement. He continues to travel and write songs and lead worship extensively. www.davebilbrough.com