17 January 2006

Karaoke worship

(We'll get back to the cessationism issue later in the week, I hope.)

Turning the corner

I once remarked that if the trends in "contemporary worship" were carried to their logical conclusion, church services would soon feature karaoke contests.

That remark prompted an outpouring of replies from people who informed me that karaoke was already being used "quite successfully" in their churches. It also sparked the following exchange with a contemporary "worship leader," whose words appear below in brown italics. My replies are in normal typeface:

What verse of scripture forbids the use of karaoke in worship?

My opposition to such methods is not based only on a single proof-text, but on the totality of what Scripture teaches about the principle of worship. Genuine worship aims to please God, not the worshiper. "Worship" designed primarily to entertain or amuse people is not even true worship of God.

In the words of the Westminster Confession, "The acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture."

Biblical support? Sure:

  • Deuteronomy 12:31-32: "You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way [like the pagans do]. . . . Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it" [NKJV].

  • Psalm 29:2: "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."

  • Psalm 115:1: "Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake."

  • Matthew 15:9: "In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

  • 2 Timothy 4:2-5: "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry."

Want more? I recommend John MacArthur's Ashamed of the Gospel.

And shall we let Spurgeon weigh in?

For us to give ourselves to getting up entertainments, to become competitors with theatres and music-halls, is a great degradation of our holy office.
"A Call to Prayer and Testimony"

The Lord our God is holy, and he cannot compromise his own glorious name by working with persons whose groveling tastes lead them to go to Egypt?—we had almost said to Sodom—?for their recreations. Is this walking with God? Is this the manner in which Enochs are produced?

It is a heart-sorrow to have to mention such things, but the work of the Lord must be done faithfully, and this evil must be laid bare. There can be no doubt that all sorts of entertainments, as nearly as possible approximating to stage-plays, have been carried on in connection with places of worship, and are, at this present time, in high favor. Can these things promote holiness, or help in communion with God? Can men come away from such things and plead with God for the salvation of sinners and the sanctification of believers? We loathe to touch the unhallowed subject; it seems so far removed from the walk of faith, and the way of heavenly fellowship. In some cases the follies complained of are even beneath the dignity of manhood, and fitter for the region of the imbecile than for thoughtful men.
"Restoration of Truth and Revival"

In the great day, when the muster-roll shall be read, of all those who are converted through fine music, and church decoration, and religious exhibitions and entertainments, they will amount to the tenth part of nothing; but it will always please God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. Keep to your preaching; and if you do anything beside, do not let it throw your preaching into the background. In the first place preach, and in the second place preach, and in the third place preach.
"How to Win Souls for Christ"


"For the sake of argument (leaving off the Spurgeon quotes), does a karaoke sing-along contradict 2 Timothy 4:2-5, if—and this is a big if, perhaps—if the karaoke songs are later tied in to a theme of Biblical exposition? Why or why not?"

If someone wants to sing biblical songs, let him sing them as unto the Lord (Psalm 29:2).

Karaoke is a populist form of burlesque. Taking turns singing for others' amusement (usually badly and without adequate rehearsal) is a cheap amusement—the kind of frivolity that (in effect) has turned churches into cabarets. It's not worship. And doing it with biblically-based songs or hymns only demeans the message.

I also don't get the opposition to pre-recorded accompaniments. In churches where musicianship is limited, recorded music seems like a good idea.

It is not pre-recorded accompaniments per se that I am objecting to. It's the tendency to think of church music as a performance or an entertainment for the benefit of an earthly audience, rather than worship offered to the Lord.

Karaoke as liturgy, like virtually every novelty that has been introduced into our worship services over the past 75 years or so, violates the central principle of all true worship and authentic ministry: "As we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God" (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

84 comments:

CuriousSaint said...

Well put Phil (and Spurgeon). I don't understand how any true believer would even want to approach God in that manner. It seems logical, to me anyway, that one that has the Spirit dwelling within would come to the Father on his knees in complete humility. I'm not against singing an upbeat contemporary song with fellow believers, but karaoke is a bit too far.

Carla said...

"What verse of scripture forbids the use of karaoke in worship?"

It has been my experience, that when someone has taken a position on an issue, and then asks a question like this, they're already set to argue with you about the interpretation of any verse, verses, passages, etc. you give them.

It would be such a nice change, if when someone asked that, they genuinely asked from a teachable heart, desiring to know what the Bible says - rather than asking to simply begin an argument.

It does happen, but it's all too rare in our days of emotion-driven Christianity.

SDG...

Forgiven Sinner said...

Well Phil,,,,,,you nailed it!!!!
I new we were doing something but I just couldnt put my finger on it!!

Castusfumus said...

Ashamed of the Gospel needs to be in every library! It is a shame that the American church is so influenced by St. Peter Drucker and the magnetism of pragmatism to the tickled ear of man's felt needs.

Forgiven Sinner said...

Maybe we could come up with some peanuts with Scripture's on them and sell along with some POPCORN...and maybe a COLD DRINK!!!

Seriously though......it shows the direction of most Baptist Churches these days,,,, using music to stir up emotions and getting people to walk down that aisle because the have been made feel guilty by the Music and Pastor.

TRUE WORSHIP is the devotion of one's heart and full attention to CHRIST!!!

jigawatt said...

Phil, you forgot about Hezekiah 4:12:

"And the Lord did indeed sayeth unto king Hezekiah, 'thou shalt not sing karaoke unto thy God, for it is an abomination.'"

Ray said...

Forgiven Sinner -- Too late -- there are already churches that offer refreshments while watching the 'entertainment'.

It is hard, (as Phil, and Ingrid at Slice have said), to parody the modern church!

donsands said...

Good words carla.
As an elder in the Church I am responsible to exhort the body to be Christ-centered, not man-cenered. Karaoke is man-centered.

However, in a well balanced group of overseers in any local church you should have evangelists, teachers, and encouragers, who all must be Christ-centerd in heart and mind. This is essential for the growth of the Church in becoming conformed in the image of Christ, and the fruit of the harvest as well.

The overseers who have the gift of evangelism have a longing to see unbelievers converted with an intensity that I will never have, and that's good. And I have an intensity to see the the body be protected from wolves, and false doctrines.There's such a subtle thin line here for the genuine overseers I think.
And this is the struggle.
Karaoke is absurd. But there are ways to come and worship our Lord in spirit and truth, and reach out to the unbleivers.
I'm still listening and learning.

Phil you are a blessing to the Church. Keep on.

Brendt said...

Depending on the context, I wonder how many people who replied to your original comment were simply thinking that you were using the term "karaoke" to refer to pre-recorded accompaniment, as the latter is fairly new (at least, its commercial availability).

I know that I was guilty of the confusion. I wonder if others were as well, and the state of the Church is not quite as bad as you might think.

Or maybe I'm wrong, and the state of the Church is worse than I think. :-(

centuri0n said...

I was saved in my parent's basement when I was 27 years old -- by reading the book of John. It wasn't until almost 2 years later that I realized that there was more to the Christian life than just being humbled before God and seeking forgiveness.

However, when I did finally go to a church to be part of God's people, I was somewhat puzzled by the practice of praise & worship karaoke. The yound woman I went to church with (who is now my wife) didn't seem very disconcerted by the use of a soundtrack by which to sing, but I thought it was hillarious.

The "other part" of forgiveness is repentence -- the turning away from the world and toward God. In what way are we repenting from our worldliness when we rely on it to be the means by which we allegedly "relate" to the world? Make no mistake: when we want worship in church to "look like" or (which is far worse, IMO) "feel like" a secular pop music concert, we have failed to repent of worldiness.

BReformed said...

Basically, this boils down to what I call "worshipping whimsically". Ask Nadab and Abihu if that worked for them.

"Yo, Nadabby, bring yo fire and lets bohldlee 'proach the throne o'grace just as we are!"

Psshhh.

We will remain on the karaoke bandwagon until the church comes to understand that our unchanging God is a consuming fire. Don't hold your breath.

LeeC said...

Ascribing worth (otherwise known as worship)that pays us in entertainment instead of God in glory is an abomination.

Check out

christianunplugged.com/church_movie.htm

How many of us are living a "Cost free" Christianity. Certainly grace is free, but there is a cost to following Jesus. Luke 14:18-32.

My old church did not have airconditioning, or parking. I was stunned at how many people would tell me they loved the teaching but couldn't get over those two points. God isn't worth my discomfort.....

Makes you wonder (or not) what they will do if they are told to renounce Christ or die.


God is WORTH it people, give up the things YOU want, the things that YOU get caught up in and please you, and take joy in Christ alone for a bit.

When I first started going to church I hated the old hymns musically. All music at my church was by organ or piano, and usually two beats slower than shown in the book. As I grew in Christ I began to love those hymns so dearly. First because of what they said, and then later because of the reverence their tone and meter convied.

Stevie B said...

Are some of you forgetting that organs and pianos and such were contemporary instruments of their day also?

I heard D.L. Moody was ostracized by local churches for performing altar calls by using a portable grammaphone (old fashion record player), using the same kind of reasoning many are using now about modern day worship practices (though I never heard of karoake being used unless you're talking about the music track thing I've seen before).

What about the fact that MANY many old hymns are just drinking songs of their day, that men of God changed the lyrics to so they could worship with them? What is different between doing that back then and doing anything the church does today in its worship? (Like borrowing the styles and methods of Egypt and using them for our worship purposes).

I'm not revealing what my actual opinion is, but of course it seems to me Christians are quick to demonize whatever the Church does today but sanitize whenever it did those very areas in our past.

candyinsierras said...

I am slightly confused. Are we talking about karaoke as in people getting up and singing to a music machine, or people using a music machine because they have no musicians to lead them?

I see great benefit in skilled musicians who do a blend of contemporary, dontrinely rich songs, and hymns together, with the congregation fully participating in worship.

We are going to a new church that does hymns (I Love hymns) on a piano, says amen at the end of each song, and gives us the page for the next one. I so miss closing my eyes and joyfully singing and praising God with the mixture I previously stated. Lest anyone misconstrue, I am not talking about any of the praise being out of order. I believe in all things done decently and in order.

I am thankful to be in a church that is so biblical in teaching, but feel sorta dry and constrained during the time of singing and praise.

Mike Nevarr said...

I would invite the fellow advocating Karaoke to ask Nadab and Abihu how seriously God takes His worship. They also tried to approach the matter on their own terms.

One of the best books on the subject of the weightiness and joy of worshipping our great Lord in spirit and in truth, is Jeremiah Burroughs' book "Gospel Worship." This is an excellent antidote to the current man-centered idolatry which is permeating evangelicalism.

LeeC said...

Bremer,
I appreciate your comment, and have even used your initial argumet myself before. But the point was upon lyrics, and direction of focus, not the medium used.

I have a large collection of music that encompasses the Supertones, Third Day, Switchfoot, and more.

I like good music with God honoring lyrics, some though I listen to for my edification and enjoyment, others are worshipful.

Regardless, we need to search ourselves and ensure that we are worshipping GOD the way HE wants to be worshipped, not the way we like, not that there needs to be discord there or anything, but I don't go to church to be entertained, or looked at, or appreciated.

candyinsierras said...

For a great blog that centers on worship, check out Bob Kauflin's blog. Bob Kauflin is the worship leader at Sovereign Grace Ministries.
http://worshipmatters.blogs.com/bobkauflin/

C Dubbs said...

While I don't agree with everything said in the post, I do have to admit that kareoke worship is probably a very bad idea.

The whole point of kareoke is to draw attention to the singer. Either how bad he/she is (which woul not be using your talents to glorify God) or how good they are with so little rehearsal or preparation (which just draws attention to the singer and not the message).

However, I do think it's a bit conservative to suggest that preaching is the ONLY way to present the gospel. If God gave all of us talents in dance and theater and writing (even if it's fiction), then can't the Gospel still be proclaimed through art and used as worship?

Granted, we need to make sure the motives are pure and that the Gospel is proclaimed through it, but I often feel that, as a writer, I'm left out of church and can't get involved simply because the church only wants teachers or preachers. And that means the only place I can use my gifts tends to be in the secular world.

LeeC said...

I must be missing something C Dubbs, I can't find where Phil said "preaching is the ONLY way to present the gospel." granted, the more kids I have the lower my reading comprehension seems to get. Heh.

JRODFOSS said...

Phil,

Recently I saw a sign at a church in Walla Walla that was advertising church Karaoke. We had a laugh at their unfortunate expense.

Thanks for your insightful teaching. You are a daily encouragement to me.

My All Time Life Changing Book (other than the Bible): Ashamed of the Gospel

Jerod

Libbie said...

If God gave all of us talents in dance and theater and writing (even if it's fiction), then can't the Gospel still be proclaimed through art and used as worship?

Granted, we need to make sure the motives are pure and that the Gospel is proclaimed through it, but I often feel that, as a writer, I'm left out of church and can't get involved simply because the church only wants teachers or preachers. And that means the only place I can use my gifts tends to be in the secular world.


I'm going to sound so harsh, and I don't really mean to be, but...
When was worship ever about using our 'gifts'? We come together corporately to worship our God. We sing, we pray, we read the Word, We hear it taught to us. The world is certainly a big place, and there is plenty of room to be using our talents to glorify God. But the gathering of the saints to worship isn't a blank canvas for us to fill with our art.
We come rendering God his due, He is not the audience while we perform.

Prufrock said...

What about the fact that MANY many old hymns are just drinking songs of their day, that men of God changed the lyrics to so they could worship with them?


Simply not the case.

Castusfumus said...

Music is the language of the soul. As a choirmember, what comes from my mouth is my offering to Him. Singing is not for the purpose of glorifying myself in anyones eyes or to stimulate emotions. It is MY offering to His name that is hallowed in MY understanding of MY depravity. I'd rather sans the tracks for musicians who collectively make their offering corporately with all humility.

Jon said...

First, God HAS to love Karaoke, everyone loves Karaoke.

Second, David dancing semi-nude infront of the Arc coming into Jerusalem didn't have a whole lotta fans in his family. Yet he was dancing unto the Lord.

If it is possible to make a fool of yourself dancing, then it may be possible to be a fool in karaoke, and still do it 'unto the Lord'.

Jeff said...

I'm going to step out on a limb here and say that worshipping the Lord in song is a good thing. While I think that Karaoke is one of the tackiest forms of doing music (unless you're slobbering drunk *wink*) I would not forbid someone from using Karaoke to lead worship if thats all they had the skill to use.

My grandpa got saved about 8 years before he died and his church used one of those Casio pianos with pre-recorded worship songs that they used for their music. It was painful to me, but grandpa loved that little church and it fed his soul until he had to move into a nursing home.

This post has "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" (Collossians 2:21) written all over it.

Any form of worship can be man centered. Even the so called "right way to worship" can be done the wrong way.

My opposition to such methods is not based only on a single proof-text, but on the totality of what Scripture teaches about the principle of worship. Genuine worship aims to please God, not the worshiper. "Worship" designed primarily to entertain or amuse people is not even true worship of God.

I agree, but worship is a heart thing, not just a posture thing. The right things done in the wrong way can entertain and amuse. If a background track is all someone has then more power to them.

Mind you, you'll never catch me doing Karaoke worship.

Frank Martens said...

that's funny that someone ended up asking that question.

You predicted, and then it happened. Hey Phil, I think you've become the next prophesier! (sarcasm in that)

Doug said...

A lot of you are missing the point of Phil's post. He is not saying that background tapes are wrong. He is slamming the practice of doing "Christian Karaoke" on Sunday morning like you would in a bar on Friday night. The only thing missing (so far) is the beer. Surely you don't think this form of pure entertainment is in any way pleasing to God?

Bill in NJ said...

Karaoke doesn't bother me in the absence of a worship leader and people capable of musical accompaniment.

I am more concerned about the choice of songs. There are many great older songs and some great contemporary songs. There are also "Jesus is my Boyfriend" songs and songs that seem to be focused on how much I love Him and would be willing to do for Him. The last one really bugs me because I know what love I have for Him is due to Him. I am such a wretched sinner and know that my love is so imperfect and so unworthy. I also know that we are all in the same state.

It is one thing to mention my love for Him in response to what He did for us. It is another to go on and on about it in the context of worship. I have trouble with that.

JRODFOSS said...

Picture this:

Phil Johnson up in front at the Shepherds Conference with the Veggie Tales sing along video being projected on the big screen as he sings "I Love My Lips".

Scary

Jerod

LeeC said...

" JRODFOSS said...
Picture this:

Phil Johnson up in front at the Shepherds Conference with the Veggie Tales sing along video being projected on the big screen as he sings "I Love My Lips".

Scary

Jerod "

OK...thats just gona keep me up at night.....

Kim said...

When I think of karoke, I think of a bunch of people getting together to laugh at their own foolishness and be silly. I think the feelings karaoke machines engender shouldn't be ignored.

However, as someone who sings and plays the piano and organ, I can tell you that I am very thankful for prepared music when my daughter and I are given the privilege to sing a special music offering. I have played and sung at the same time on many occasions, and it is not always easy. We find it difficult to find someone to accompany us, so we use prepared tracks, albeit appropriate ones.

Like one of the other commenters mentioned, I'm far more concerned about the vapid words that are so common in some worship music. They're all "I" this and "I" that.

BReformed said...

To view "karaoke" as an accompaniment or stylistic issue misses the point. Karaoke is fakery; it is cheap imitation of the real thing.

Bill in NJ is right on. It's the banal "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs that cheapen and promote fake worship.

Like the banal "Knowing you, Jesus....you're the best." (Yeah, I know - we sang that at Shepherd's Conference last year with the word changed from "best" to "rest".)

Last time I read Matt. 7:22-23, it was Jesus knowing me that was more important than me proclaiming how much I know Him. Pastors, that is not worship music.

Like John Tesh's, "Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes yes, Lord". Kick that into high gear with a worship band, get the audience to gyrate and you've got worship: spam style. (Spam Worship and its derivatives, e.g. "Worship Like Spam", has just been coined by me right here. All rights reserved.)

POP QUIZ: How many times is 'Yes Lord' repeated in Tesh's song? (Ans: 38.)

Puke.

SolaMeanie said...

Regarding the bit about old hymns being drinking songs...that has been exaggerated quite a bit. Some might well have been pub ditties, but others were folk melodies etc. However, compared to the number of hymns that were original in composition, the number of those that actually were drinking tunes is miniscule.

fickett said...

I'd never thought of it like that before, but it is a group karaoke sing. I'm cessationist and I hope that this vapid form of worship ceases soon.

Kyle said...

(bremners) What about the fact that MANY many old hymns are just drinking songs of their day, that men of God changed the lyrics to so they could worship with them?

A couple of others have pointed out this urban myth. Many hymns were written to "bar tunes," which has reference to a particular poetic STRUCTURE, and has absolutely nothing to do with drinking songs. Some examples: "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," "Come Christians, Join to Sing," "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," "Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus," "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling."

Ephemeral Mortal said...

castusfumus said...
Music is the language of the soul. As a choirmember, what comes from my mouth is my offering to Him. Singing is not for the purpose of glorifying myself in anyones eyes or to stimulate emotions. It is MY offering to His name that is hallowed in MY understanding of MY depravity. I'd rather sans the tracks for musicians who collectively make their offering corporately with all humility.

It's impossible for a sinful human being to offer anything from themselves that is acceptable to God, in worship or otherwise, since it's tainted with human sin. There is only one offering God is interested in.

blestwithsons said...

Seriously though......it shows the direction of most Baptist Churches these days,,, Man! What is it, open season on Baptists lately? Seems like every thread I've been on lately, no matter what the subject, it's time to pick on the Baptists. I'm getting tired of it...

Anyway.

This issue is like a lot of others. It comes down to heart motive. If I'm getting up to do a solo to show off then I'm wrong - no matter what accompaniment I'm using. If I'm singing a solo with a heart towards glorifying God then I don't think it matters if I'm using a track.

The Lord looks at the heart, yes?

Michael Lee said...

"I come now to ceremonies, which, while they ought to be grave attestations of divine worship, are rather a mere mockery of God. A new Judaism, as a substitute for that which God had distinctly abrogated, has again been reared up by means of numerous puerile extravagancies, collected from different quarters; and with these have been mixed up certain impious rites, partly borrowed from the heathen, and more adapted to some theatrical show than to the dignity of our religion. The first evil here is, that an immense number of ceremonies, which God had by his authority abrogated, once for all, have been again revived. The next evil is that, while ceremonies ought to be living exercises of piety, men are vainly occupied with numbers of them that are both frivolous and useless. But by far the most deadly evil of all is, that after men have thus mocked God with ceremonies of one kind or other, they think they have fulfillled their duty as admirably as if these ceremonies included in them the whole essence of piety and divine worship."

From John Calvin, The Necessity of Reforming the Church

Michael Lee said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
centuri0n said...

I think it matters if you're using a track.

Here's the test of fire: will your worship song render the same result if you sing it without the track? My experience says that in 99% of the worship songs sung to tracks in church, the result would be clearly and noticibly different.

Here's the flip side, which might get me stoned: there's a woman in our church who's a little charismatic for a baptist, and from time to time she's called on to do "special music". Usually, she picks a song and sings it solo with only her guitar to accompany her. She sounds a little like Leigh Nash if you have to know.

One Sunday she came on to the front with her guitar and told the congregation that she didn't have anything prepared for that morning but that we were going to worship the Lord together. Me: I was scared because, like I said, she's a little charismatic.

She sat down, started a basic chord progression, and started singing the words to a psalm. I think it was Ps 6:2-3, or maybe it was Ps 9:1-2, but that's all she sang, and she just kept singing in a very simple way.

After a few times through the congregation was singing with her, and 10 minutes later we stopped. 10 minutes singing 2 verses of Scripture.

Listen: nobody needed a soundtrack that day. Nobody needed an overhead. Nobody needed to know the words or recognize the tune. When you can sing to a track and you're doing what happened there, you will have demonstrated that singing to a track is right-hearted worship. Until then, let's take as examples the things that really happen in "worship" these days and examine them and be honest with ourselves.

John said...

Phil,

Love you, love the blog, etc.

But I have to admit, I'm not even sure what you're talking about here.

As far as I understand, karaoke is where people--any people--go up and select a song and then sing it to a pre-recorded accompanying track. It's open to everyone. Not much will surprise me these days, but are you claiming there really are lots of evangelical churches that say "Okay, it's time for a song now. Who would like to come up and sing?" The singers may not all be great, but are you telling me churches are actually doing open microphone?

Since such a thing seems unlikely to me, I thought perhaps your use of the pejorative term “karaoke” might be intended to ridicule the mere practice of singing to pre-recorded accompaniments. But then you go on to explicitly say "It is not pre-recorded accompaniments per se that I am objecting to." Oh. So just what IS it you're objecting to?

Let's all agree for a moment that worship should be centered on God. You'd find few people who'd disagree with that statement. What specifically are you arguing against when you say “karaoke worship”? If it's not pre-recorded accompaniments per se, and churches generally aren't just throwing the microphone open on the spot to whoever has a sudden urge to sing, what are you protesting here?

This has the ring of one of those arguments that gets the hallelujah chorus to say "amen" but doesn't really mean anything. We all vaguely detest karaoke, so we must be against "karaoke worship," even if we don't know what it is. Just like we'd be against "French worship," whatever that might be.

Is music "man-centered karaoke" because it is pre-recorded? Is it because there's only one singer? Do the instruments all need to be live in order to make it God-centered? Surely you're not saying that a solo cannot be part of God-centered worship, are you? Help me here—I’m trying to find an identifying principle so I can oppose this bugaboo you’ve raised.

It seems easy to me to score points by opposing "karaoke worship." But it also seems to be a little weasely to then add that we're not talking about backing tracks or solos “per se.” What in the world ARE we talking about, then?

If you're simply talking about bad music, then I agree. Bad music doesn't honor God. But, goodness, who disagrees with that?

Belinda said...

Since Phil mentioned karaoke CONTESTS and getting up taking turns singing, it sounds like what I always thought karaoke was....not just using pre-recorded music...It's hard to believe this is going on in churches but it's harder to believe he would make an issue out of just using pre-recorded music in a church.

chamblee54 said...

If you don't like karaoke worship, then don't go.
Maybe you should spend a little more time worrying about your worship practices, and less time worried about what others do.
Also, what about the microphone and the amplified organ? I am sure if you looked in your magic book you could find a passage that tells you not to use those "modern" devices in worship. The same could be said about air conditioning and indoor plumbing.

One Salient Oversight said...

John,

It appears that you may not be aware of what "Karaoke" is.

Karaoke is a form of entertainment invented in Japan whereby a person goes up on stage and attempts to sing a popular song with an instrumental backing. The entertainment is provided by the person's ability - or, more to the point, inability - to sing the song.

Phil appears to be criticising churches which actually have that practice - where a person gets up in front of church and attempts to sing some song. It is entertainment, it is not worship.

You and many others understand Karaoke worship to mean a congregation singing along with pre-recorded music in lieu of real musicians. That is a totally different situation since it is not entertainment.

John said...

OSO,

Well, perhaps I'm dense, but I'm still not getting it. As you've explained it, your understanding of karaoke is exactly the same as mine as best I can tell, so I think I understand the concept of karaoke okay.

You say what Phil is criticizing as "karaoke worship" is "where a person gets up in front of church and attempts to sing some song."

So again I ask, is the problem soloing? Or is it bad singing? Is anyone who sings a song before the church engaging in "karaoke worship?" Or just one who does it poorly? Is every instance of a solo simply "entertainment" in this view? Is a solo, by definition, non-God-centered? Or is it even theoretically possible for someone to sing a solo in a church with a backing track and have it be God-centered and God-glorifying?

Jabbok said...

Help me out Phil..

You said, It is not pre-recorded accompaniments per se that I am objecting to. It's the tendency to think of church music as a performance or an entertainment for the benefit of an earthly audience, rather than worship offered to the Lord.

Does this mean it's OK if we just think of it as worship? I don't know of any who utilize Karaoke that would consider it "entertainment". In fact, the pastor of the church (Baptist) that I attend commented from the pulpit not long ago that it wasn't entertainment because it was being done "unto the Lord".

I still disapprove of it but I would like further and firmer rebuttal of this practice.

Thanks.

Belinda said...

Karaoke....as I know it....is always for entertainment. Different people take turns, with no preparation beforehand and hop up and sing a song on the spur of the moment. It is always for fun and entertainment...usually for laughs because most that volunteer to get up can't sing. This is a far cry from someone preparing a song in advance, much as you would with live instruments...and with much prayer and preparation getting up and worshiping the Lord in front of a congregation. I can't believe some people are having trouble seeing the difference.

John said...

Incidentally, in reading through the comments, I'm coming to see that no two people are interpreting the phrase "karaoke worship" the same way--they're just mostly sure they're against it, whatever it is.

It looks like a Rorshach blot: to one person, "karaoke worship" is backing tracks, to another, it's songs with weak content, to another it's music that's too contemporary. There's no apparent definition, so we can all safely be against it.

In other words, as best I can tell, both in Phil's original post and in many of the comments, "karaoke worship" means "any worship element that I don't particularly like."

Hey, that's fine. I have those too. But let's not pretend that God-centered worship prohibits (or necessitates, for that matter) the use of backing tracks or solos or whatever in the world it is we're supposedly protesting here.

Via Crusis said...

Our small country church places KJV in the seats, because we sing the Psalms, and we often have responsive reading from the Psalms. (We are in no way KJV only) Our hymnals we get sometimes free from other churches that have gone to overheads. I tried to find a hymnn with a date after 1940, (ref. MacArthurs book, "Fools Gold") and couldn't find one, they are the "new" ones to us. We have two complete sets that are older yet. Our song leader will sometimes pick members (who he knows sings) out of the congreagation for what he calls an "insta-choir". And we will switch out to the oldies every now and then to avoid "rutualism". We are blessed in so small a church (less than 100 usual Sunday)to have a 5 piano players, 2 organists, 2 violins, 1 flute, 1 xylophone, a 20 person male choir, double that when we sing mixed. The entire congregation sings 4 part harmonies from the hymnals; sometimes a verse or two a cappella. We can raise the roof. Most people who visit love it. Not long ago we acquired a used Hammond B3 church organ and built the speaker enclosures flush into the front wall. I know God has a sense of humor because it was the exact set-up our keyboardist had in my rock band in college, including the rotating Leslie speaker. The church that had it went to prerecorded backing tracks, and they are 5 times larger. Think you are smaller than us or don't have the talent? Bet you do. And if not, make it a point of congregational prayer, and pray them in. It may be that hearts may soften.

P.S. I'm at liberty to like music by Tree63, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Jars of Clay, etc. for personal edification, as long as I'm discerning and don't cause a brother to stumble, but I wouldn't change a thing about my churches music ministry.

blestwithsons said...

When you can sing to a track and you're doing what happened there, you will have demonstrated that singing to a track is right-hearted worship. Until then, let's take as examples the things that really happen in "worship" these days and examine them and be honest with ourselves.

Centurion... let me see if I understand. You're taking an isolated worship experience in your church and saying that if I can't replicate that experience in a solo with a back-up track then it can't be right-hearted worship?

Shall I set my anecdotal experiences against yours? Or the experiences people have told me occurred while I was singing? The problem being that since I was the soloist involved - it will come across as bragging which would totally not be my intent...So I won't do it.

What I can say is that the times I have sung it was with prayer before, during, and after. I don't seek out solos. I don't think being able to sing them makes me something special in the church. Hey - teachers are a whole lot more important. But I think saying that the method of instrumentation is somehow critical to the right-heartedness of the worship is absolutely ludicrous.

Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

Not all background tape-track stuff is bad.

I went to a small Bible College in West Virginia, so small that we did not have a band or orchestra. We only had piano and organ, guitar, and on special occasions, handbells.

A lady that was a trained opera singer came to do a concert for us and I was her "orchestra" by playing tape backgrounds for her. It was not hammy or kitsch in any way; the music on the tapes was beautiful and so was her voice. Our school did not allow pop or rock music in any form, so the musical selections were quite conservative.

It was very respectful, worshipful, and delightful. She even gave me a nice gesture at the end of the concert, thanking me for being "her orchestra."

Of course, such tape backgrounds can degenerate into "karaoke" but not all places have the benefit of orchestras, quartets, or bands to play the music. People were blessed by the concert, and God was glorified.

Jeremy Weaver said...

The big issue in this post is not the karaoke, soundtracks, or orchestras.
The issue is the regulative principle. Do we have license to do whatever we want to do in our worship of God? Or, are there specific guidelines that govern our worship?
Is the attitude of worship, "Well, I'm doing this for God, so He is obligated to accept it", or, "God's Word says to woprship Him like this, so this is how I will offer my worship to him."

God has revealed His way of worship in the Scriptures, and we must come before Him in His prescribed manner, or our worship is noise.

BugBlaster said...

Regarding karaoke, I really didn't get this post, nor most of the comments. Someone has already noted that everyone means something different when they talk about karaoke worship. I don't actually understand what Phil meant by the term. Maybe it's a SoCal thing? What is a karaoke singalong?

But the real point that Phil noted is that there are incredible dangers in "'worship' designed primarily to entertain or amuse people." But you don't need a karaoke machine or accompaniment track to fall prey to that. Some of the most dynamic, professional and excellent church musical presentations I've ever heard used real instruments, but were designed to entertain people.

Psalm 150: Go wild, make joyful noise. And don't fret too much if the worship police don't like your choice of accompaniment. But you'd better make sure you're doing it all to praise God, not to impress men.

Red22 said...

Thank you Doxoblogist! If you haven't read his post - go back and read it! Largly, the Reformation was in response to this kind of worship. It is time we take worship seriously.

marc said...

As a worship leader in a big church I'd like to say... how 'bout that American Idol tonight! Man, that was hilarious.

Seriously, if you can do Rom 12, IS 58, and IS 66:1-2 to a karaoke machine, more power to you. All life is worship to God. The "worship" of the corporate gathering is not well defined in the NT (in fact the word worship is barely used). Its a heart issue not a style issue... theoretically. In practice its seems like a style issue.

BReformed said...

A graphic illustrating the point of Karaoke Worship is available at http://breformed.blogspot.com. Enjoy.

Dan Edelen said...

Both the post and follow-up comments are totally confusing.

Our terms here are too fuzzy. Phil says that he's not against backing tracks per se. But then what is he against? And what then is the formal definition of "karaoke worship"?

As far as the regulative principle applies, I have to ask how many churches are using dance, trumpets, and cymbals in their worship? Psalm 150 says those are appropriate for worship. If your church is not using them, then you are not worshiping in accordance to the regulative principle.

Okay, so how many churches did we just eliminate?

How does one determine whether the Spirit is leading someone to sing to a canned tape? The Spirit does lead, does He not? Can we not then discern whether a "performance" pleases God or not?

As a younger man, I often soloed in church playing songs on guitar I'd written to the glory of God. How does one discern whether my intention is to honor God with my music by playing it live OR simply give myself a platform to get me on stage? I know that I never did it for my own glory, but what if other people thought I did? Is my "performance" of God-centered music nullified then?

If the issue is the lack of live musicians, then all recorded Christian music fails the test, whether played in public or for personal use. Time for Phil to take back his iPod; whatever is played on it dishonors God.

See how silly we can get unless we make our context and definitions certain? Unless we strictly define what we are talking about, we'll just sink into a morass of finger-pointing and divisiveness.

Jacob Hantla said...

Bob Kauflin has some excellent, pastoral points regarding this subject:
Should We Use Canned Music In Church 1/2
Should We Use Canned Music In Church 2/2

Jeremy Weaver said...

Thank you red22! If you haven't read my comment, go back and read it. You'll find we agree!

Doug said...

OK. Let's get detailed

KARAOKE (from American Heritage Dictionary): 1. A music entertainment system providing prerecorded accompaniment to popular songs that a performer sings live, usually by following the words on a video screen.
2. The performance of such music.

WORSHIP (from same): a. The reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.
b. The ceremonies, prayers, or other religious forms by which this love is expressed.

If you look carefully at these two definitions (the words used in Phil's post) you will see that Karaoke and Worship have nothing in common. Karaoke is entertainment, by definition. Worship is love offered to God.

Now, while worship may entertain some of us, karaoke can not be worship.

PHIL IS NOT TALKING ABOUT BACKGROUND TRACKS OR PRE-RECORDED MUSIC!!!!! He is talking about a practice of having "karaoke night" or "open-mic night" during a worship service. This practice is profaning of the holy name of God.

Jon said...

What evidence is there that an 'open-mike' night as a worship service is actually being performed at churches?

John said...

Doug,

All you've really done is simply repeated Phil, and we're really no closer to the issue. You (and Phil) have removed almost all of the defining points of karaoke ("PHIL IS NOT TALKING ABOUT BACKGROUND TRACKS OR PRE-RECORDED MUSIC!!!!") and left one--entertainment--to oppose. But don't we get a lot closer to the issue, then, if we simply oppose entertainment in church?

But the problem with that is that pretty much everyone would agree, and thus there'd be no cheap rhetorical points to score.

The argument is, as best I can tell, "We're opposed to 'karaoke worship.' But by that, we don't mean that we're necessarily opposed to backing tracks or to soloists.'"

Oh.

It's like saying "We're against Valentines Day. But understand, we're not opposed to a day where people buy cards and candy for their beloved, or take them on a nice date. Or to holding this day on February 14. It's really the color red that bothers us." I suppose that's one way to get at it, but it would sure make a lot more sense for everyone if you'd simply cut to the chase then.

If entertainment in worship is the problem, then I suspect we're just about all agreed. Great. We're against it. But we're also apparently agreed that someone singing a solo in church to a backing track is not necessarily entertainment, and that just because a church uses this doesn't make it "man-centered."

That's a fine position (and one I agree with), but it seems to fall a bit short of the bombast of the original post.

I've never seen a church where random people were selected to sing for everyone while watching the words on a screen. And you haven't either. So the strawman has been effectively blown over with much sound and fury, but where are we?

blund said...

Mr. Phil Johnson of Pyromaniac fame weighs in on worship, and lets the RPW shine on karaoke mayhem.
My Post Here

blund

Andy Dollahite said...

John,

I couldn't agree with you more. Ditto on all of your pooints. Who has ever seen a church worship service consistent with our normal usage of karaoke... the karaoke we all think of when someone asks if you want to go to a karaoke bar?

- Andy Dollahite

Rusty said...

wow. karaoke in church. I'm speechless

Michael J. Iliff said...

Dear Phil,

Many thanks for a clear explanation.

I read ‘Ashamed of the Gospel’ and found it extremely helpful, but when I discovered that Grace used an orchestra I found this rather confusing. Isn’t this something the Puritans would have sought to avoid, indeed you quote Spurgeon here ‘of all those who are converted through fine music, and church decoration, and religious exhibitions and entertainments, they will amount to the tenth part of nothing’.

This is not a trick question (I think I support just about all you write): I would just like to know your rationale on the use of an orchestra, and for that matter worship groups per se. Do these not fall into the category of entertainment? I am not suggesting, necessarily, that worship should be unaccompanied. Well, maybe it should be?

If you read this, I appreciate your time.

Mike (UK)

Red22 said...

Doxoblogist,

Sorry for being unclear in my post. I really wanted people to reread your post, because I most certainly agree. I was really thanking you for the post.

Dan Edelen

The regulative principle has much more to say on the passage you mention, but this blog entry is not about defining that principle. It appears that many who commented on this blog have some questions and issues with this "Karaoke worship". I am want to plead with those who have never heard of the regulative principle to at least understand what it is all about. This principle was the heart of the Reformation and even though it was may have been subtly referred to, it was never mentioned by name until the Doxoblogist posted his comment.

Doug said...

All you've really done is simply repeated Phil"

That was what I was trying to do. This is, after all, Phil's blog. He made a point. And then all the comments that followed had nothing to do with his point.

This is the same thing that has hijacked the "modern-day prophets" series. Phil said, "there are no true modern-day prophets." Then everyone began commenting on cessationism vs continuationism, totally ignoring his original post.

I am just trying to interact with Phil's post, not a different subject of background tracks vs live music. If we want to discuss that we should start our own blog or ask Phil to post on it.

Jeremy Weaver said...

< apology>
red22,
Sorry for being a jerk and a smart-aleck. I just expect a certain tone from the commenters when I come to Pyro and don't recognize a compliment when I see it.< /apology>

Darel said...

Who has ever seen a church worship service consistent with our normal usage of karaoke... the karaoke we all think of when someone asks if you want to go to a karaoke bar?


I have. I have seen it in two different churches. Once in Yuma, AZ and once in Nashville, TN. Don't ask me the names of the churches... the sooner I was out of there the better. One of them had a name like "Door" or something...

It's, in a word, revolting.

John said...

Doug,

C'mon, surely you have the ability to reason better than this.

This is not what happened in the "modern-day prophets" series. In that thread, Phil mentioned that there were no modern day prophets. Many of the respondents changed the subject to an issue Phil hadn't brought up, asking him to defend cessationism.

This is exactly the opposite of what happened there. Phil has decried "karaoke worship," and I'm trying to find out what the heck "karaoke worship" actually is. The problem is--he doesn't really tell us in the post. And thus, when you simply repeat what Phil said, you're not addressing it either. You haven't shed any further light on it.

I'm precisely interacting with Phil's post. I'm asking for a definition of the thing he's opposing. How in the world could that be considered off-subject?

Your "definition" wasn't helpful. You provided a dictionary definition that includes the concepts of prerecorded accompaniment, performers singing live, popular songs, and words on a screen.

Most have agreed that no churches are calling people up randomly to sing to words on a screen, most of us agree that live singing isn't the problem, and you have specificially told us it isn't about pre-recorded accompaniment tracks. So for the thousandth time, WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

I think that's a fair and pertinent question.

And I still maintain that the phrase is a Rorshach blot that means "whatever Phil (and Doug) don't like."

Phil Johnson said...

John,

In the post itself and in the comments thread, some of us have pointed out that there are indeed churches (and youth groups) that sponsor karaoke "hymn-sings," where people (individuals and small groups) are invited to the front (not necessarily "chosen at random"; I think they are usually volunteers), handed a mike, and given an opportunity to sing popular Christian music to a prerecorded track for the amusement of the rest of the congregation.

I wasn't citing this as an argument against all prerecorded tracks (and said so expressly); I was merely pointing out that when church solos devolve into to karaoke contests, it's a little hard to justify the claim that this is anything more than pure entertainment.

I'm also suggesting that to the degree any solo or group "performance" is done for entertainment, in precisely that degree it ceases to be authentic worship.

This surely ought to make us pause and reflect on the ease with which church music devolves into mere entertainment, and we ought to be more diligent in guarding against that.

However, I'm not at the moment trying to quantify how much, how little, or what kind of instrumentation is good or bad. I'm also not trying to argue that the recording process itself is evil, as if prerecorded music should be forbidden just because it's a recorded medium.

(I admit that I don't really like or approve of canned music because of the way it encourages so many teenage girls to envision themselves as Christianized Brittany Spearses. Too many track-singers seem to aspire to perform for applause, as opposed to nobler motives. But we'll save that discussion for another thread. It wasn't the discussion I was starting here, and again, I tried to make that clear.)

Here's the central point I was trying to make in the post itself: Entertainment and corporate worship are not the same thing. I'm was also trying to highlight the fact that the contemporary church, for the most part, seems oblivious to the distinction between entertainment and worship and therefore is naiveley open to almost anything that draws a crowd and entertains people.

Here's why this came up in the first place:

When (in another forum) I originally brought up what I thought was a hypothetical reductio (karaoke), it never occurred to me that anyone would defend it as an appropriate form of worship. To my surprise, I learned that there ARE churches already doing this, and lots of people who see nothing wrong with it.

I was therefore trying to make a point about how far contemporary evangelicalism has already descended on the downgrade. I thought it was clear. I didn't anticipate that it would open a days-long debate about the propriety of recorded music per seespecially since I expressly included a disclaimer for those who might imagine that was the point I wanted to talk about.

But I guess it still wasn't quite clear enough. Sorry. All the rabbit trails weary me, and lately I've been lax in replying to comments.

Darel said...

This is just a warning:

I may, at some point in the future, use the phrase "it encourages so many teenage girls to envision themselves as Christianized Brittany Spearses". I'm just warning you in advance...

I will try to remember where I stole it from... I promise.

Habitans in Sicco said...

Jon: "What evidence is there that an 'open-mike' night as a worship service is actually being performed at churches?"

See:

Christian Karaoke
Karaoke Party--"Sunday Worship"

Michael Lee said...

Check and Mate

John said...

Phil,

I know you thought it was clear. That's why you posted it. I didn't think it was clear. That's why I asked for clarification. If that makes me a dolt, so be it. I've been thought of as worse. ;-)

I did mention several times that I recognized that you had specifically said you were not talking about the propriety of backing tracks. Indeed, that was a large part of my reason for wanting further definition, since backing tracks are what most people think about when they think about "karaoke."

I fully agree with your points about entertainment, and about the danger of music (or any other aspect of worship) becoming about garnering applause rather than truly worshipping God. I'm fully in agreement with what you've said is your main point: Entertainment and corporate worship are not the same thing.

My concern was that some people would simply jump on all forms of soloing or using backing tracks as being automatically evil. I think that concern has been borne out by a few of the subsequent comment posts here.

To be honest, my suspicion was that you really were objecting mainly to backing tracks, but could perhaps think of a counter-example or two which prevented you from issuing a blanket condemnation of them. Nonetheless, I think we essentially agree on most of this, providing we acknowledge that many churches do use these tools rightly and are sometimes victimized by crusaders who simply have different tastes and seek to baptize those tastes as Holy Writ itself.

(P.S. I think smuggling "youth groups" into the discussion is a little evasive, since the issue is supposed to be worship services, and karaoke singing for fun at a youth event, whether one likes it or not, would have nothing to do with the regulative principle. Nonetheless, thanks for the explanation, and I apologize for any rabbit trails.)

FreedfromBondage said...

WORD! Karaoke? The church lowers itself once more...to the world's level. In da' World, not of da' World, Yes? Is this were everything get's spewed out? Looks like the American Empire is coming to an end very soon. Look to be invaded by another country, and the governement overthrown from within... Huh? The aliens are coming? There is a reason, the USA is not found in the book of Revelation, friends! Peace be to each of you, my dear saints!

Tim said...

I am a professional church musician, and I am well aware of the God-given power of music to lead people to praise, prayer, reflection, confession, repentance, and forgiveness. I am also aware of the ability of music to lead to the baser elements of self-centered narcissism, and divisiveness. Where is self- sacrifice in contemporary worship? Where is the sacrifice for others? The book of Romans says to "present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service of worship". The casual misuse of music in worship is nothing more than idolotry.

deltadom said...

At Least it is not as bad as a dj leading which I have seen!!
Dom

zzmarlynn said...

It is interesting to see so many judging the hearts of others by the quality of his or her singing or the method by which it is accomplished. First of all, for all who are apparently Karaoke ignorant, most Karaoke singers in (dare I say it?) bars are very talented and practice frequently. It is generally good clean fun. Secondly, IF a church uses a Karaoke method...which sinful though it sounds only is printed/projected words and canned music... is there a possibility that the person who goes up to sing may just have the joy of the Lord in his or her heart and want to express it with singing...even if that singing isn't very good? Is it possible that others in the congregation or "audience" can be blessed by hearing another sing a song unto the Lord? And what ever happened to Make a joyful noise unto the Lord? To any Karaoke worshippers out there, I say "BRAVO"! Raise your voices up to the Lord...with the words in front of you. It gives you the freedom to raise your hands to Him also. Don't be intimidated by others who, when confronted with a form of worship that they so obviously know nothing about, condemn it as evil rather than allowing others to express their praise to the Lord. Sing, sing, sing. Sing praises to the Lord, anyway you can. Let your joy in the Lord spill over onto others as you boldly come forward to proclaim your love for Him in song. Let your singing be an outward sign of your love. I think when I am done writing this, I'll check online and see where I can buy hymns or worship songs for a karaoke machine. It sounds like a glorious and uplifting way to bond a congregation in worship to
God.

Pitbull78 said...

c dubbs said, "However, I do think it's a bit conservative to suggest that preaching is the ONLY way to present the gospel." and... "as a writer, I'm left out of church and can't get involved simply because the church only wants teachers or preachers. And that means the only place I can use my gifts tends to be in the secular world."

Romans 10:14 says, "How then will they call on Him in whom they have no believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a"...talented musician?...a great actor?...a fabulous script? No!..."without a PREACHER"

Furthermore..."the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message PREACHED TO SAVE those who believe" (1 Cor 1:21)

If we could reach people through plays, song, dance or any "talents" of our own, we could then boast and give glory to ourselves...but we preach Christ and Him crucified alone to give Him all the glory. Paul was a well educated man, yet he put all that aside and came in weakness to show and magnify the power of the Word of God, the power to pierce the heart and save men from sin. (Hebrews 4:12; 1 Cor 2:1-5)

warge said...

I want to refer to Tim's point where he quotes from Romans: "present your bodies as a LIVING sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service of worship".
My point is that worship should be an EVENT (a "now"), that is, a living thing (Romans above). No worship event or element of that event can be living if it is imported from another (PAST) event (which is now DEAD). So can you have a canned event? I think not.
Keep it living, if a little squeaky and off key. Worship as an event opens heaven, Worship in a can shuts it up.

billyg said...

Why would the use of Karaoke be wrong? Isn't simply using the music of someone else performance? When you worship live without a Karaoke backing track aren't you still using someone elses lyrics and music? Oh of course, it doesn't apply if it is your own music. So what is the difference? Is it technology, since there was not Karaoke technology in the early days of our Lord? If that's true than we should also get rid of the shure microphones, amplifiers, multi-instrument keyboards, electric guitars, effect pedals and the whole lot. Then when we go to chruch, out reachs, or preach to our neighbors, lets all walk since there were no cars either.. As long as you have God as focal point then it should not matter what or how the music is played while you sing praise and worship to HIM.

Phil Johnson said...

BillyG:

Read the post itself. It answers all your questions.

What part of "'Worship' designed primarily to entertain or amuse people is not even true worship of God" do you not understand?

And for the fortieth or fiftieth time, this post is not about using "technology," music tracks, microphones, or toenail polish. It's not about whether you drive or walk or skateboard to church. It's about sponsoring fun 'n' games in church and calling that "worship."

The problem is that the minute you turn your corporate singing into a karaoke contest, you don't "have God as focal point" anymore.