Is Worship all about ‘Me and Jesus’ or ‘Us and Jesus’?

I invite you to watch a 3 min video where I reflect on whether our worship music and liturgy ought to be change from individualized language to plural, specifically as a correction to the abundance of individualism in the United States.  I would love to have you watch this brief video and give me some feedback!

Example of what my question at the end of the video is getting at:
Instead of singing “Here I am to worship. Here I am to bow down. Here I am to say that your my God.” Change it too “Here we are to worship. Here we are to bow down. Here we are to say that your our God.”

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  • Anonymous

    Kurt, I first was introduced to this topic about two years ago when I spent Friday mornings meeting with a Catholic campus ministry worker. He pointed out the individualistic nature of what he described as protestant/evangelical worship songs. We basically had the same discussion as the thought process you describe in the video. As someone who bases a lot of my Church theology around Jesus’ metaphor of a body and the prayer in John 17, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t noticed it before.

    I agree that it is a problem; if anything subconsciously. It pervades and undercuts our initial understanding of the Gospel of Jesus (unity and community) until we break free of it through scripture reading, communal prayer, and the practice of community.

    A few days ago I even blogged about how the idea of “personal salvation” does just this (http://lukewarmdisciple.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/jesus-didnt-save-you-because-he-loves-you/). Being that the next step for most youth after “making a commitment to Christ” is to load their i-Pod with a bunch of “Christian” music, these subtle words may be causing division from the inside of the Church.

  • http://unorthodoxfaith.com/ Erik DiVietro

    We are very conscious of this issue in our congregation, often altering the lyrics of songs to be an inclusive first person plural rather than a first person singular.

    We also have intentionally integrated some of the “older” musical traditions like the hymns and psalms into our corporate context, explaining that our music is part of our vocabulary of worship and should reflect what we call the “congregation of the ages.”

  • Ryan Robinson

    Crazy timing. I’m an M.Div. student and we talked about this just yesterday in my Worship course. Our text claimed that in the 70′s and 80′s, a lot of hymn books switched to “we” language but then switched back later. I argued like you that within corporate worship we should focus on (not necessarily only use) community language rather than individual. 

    To me, the question for the evangelical community – which isn’t what my class is but where it is most obvious – is separating the ideas of personal relationship with God, which is rightfully often proclaimed, with individual relationship with God, which often we end up with as a cultural by-product. Those two ideas need to be kept separate.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @google-739db969c8ed9298abe188347ed3411c:disqus … thanks for the good thoughts!!!!!

  • Willhouk

    I absolutely think the individualistic issue is a problem. I think what we sing and how we sign is important, and this needs to be addressed on a larger level. Just this weekend I was playing in a worship band for a Young Life (youth ministry organization) regional training weekend. The leader changed some of the lyrics to go form “I” to “we” and I thought it was great.

    I think that there is really a lack of good, thoughtful worship music being created right now. I don’t mean that as a harsh critique, but I do think it’s an issue. I think a lot of artists “play it safe” and don’t explore things lyrically and musically. I could be wrong and maybe there is some really great stuff out there, but it seems hit and miss to me.

    I think the David Crowder band is amazing but the list kind of stops there for me. I was thinking as we were practicing “God of this City” that there is a real lack of worship songs that address the issue of justice. That song is great, but it would be nice to see more songs seek to build community, and not sell records that will get played on KLOVE. I feel like Christian artists are just basically selling records and that disappoints me.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @862ed992d31798e934f59e99074b8104:disqus … great thoughts and reflections.  Thanks!

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @862ed992d31798e934f59e99074b8104:disqus … great thoughts and reflections.  Thanks!

  • ernie Marton

    I agree that the language in corporate worship needs to reflect a more us vs me in the spoken liturgies or corporate songs. It would be a stsement against the individualismn that calla me to me in every other area. I personally ( lol) sing “we” instead of “me” during song worship and look around at those in service connecting what I know people are going through with what is being sung, etc. It has emhanced my interaction with the worship time and deepened my telationship and comittment to them. My wife once sais it publicly thatshe sensed God wanting us to make this shift and it changed the whole worship time. But that was another time another place. I more to say on it but thia is comments section. Grace and peace on “our” journeys.

  • Perry Engle

    You raise an issue in worship music that is a reflection of our broader culture.  Maybe you saw this article last year that talked about narcissism in popular song lyrics. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Christian worship was simply echoing the self-centeredness of the secular world around us. I know we have done it in the name of being “seeker sensitive,” but it’s probably about time the church responded with a distinctiveness that is decidedly different from the world around us.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/science/26tier.html

  • Pemidpac2

    You raise an issue in worship music that is a reflection of our broader culture.  Maybe you saw this article last year that talked about narcissism in popular song lyrics. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Christian worship was simply echoing the self-centeredness of the secular world around us. I know we have done it in the name of being “seeker sensitive,” but it’s probably about time the church responded with a distinctiveness that is decidedly different from the world around us.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/science/26tier.html

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @94de7d305a3aaa87f68c0ae3007b964f:disqus … A very insightful comment.  Narcissism in the church is a popular topic in seminary at the moment.  I look forward to reading the article and making some connections!

  • Anonymous

    You are way more generous than I am, Kurt.  I have long lamented the individualistic emphasis in liturgy & worship music.  There are places where such individual language is appropriate, but by and large I think the language is corporate/communal.

    I would go further to suggest that because the work of Christ is for us to die to self and resurrect as His Body- the church, the COMMUNITY of God- our worship should not only be communal, but emphasize that direction away from self to community.  I am not saying we deny the individual, as true individuality is ultimately found in community- in Christ.  However, I think that both communal language and explicit emphasis on that directional shift should be present in most of our worship/liturgies.

  • http://twitter.com/chrisnickels chrisnickels

    Kurt, thanks for the video and the great question. I’ve felt for some time that the “I” language obscures the larger “Story” in some ways-particularly elements of community, and maybe even discipleship and our purpose for mission. We are formed when we sing, and too much emphasis on the “I” I’m afraid leads to being formed very much into the mold of our individualistic culture (here in US). At times I’ve also noticed a little too much individualism taking root in the practice of communion, which may not help us demonstrate the alternative story that this practice calls us to in Christ. 

  • http://twitter.com/hokirob Rob Schneider

    Checking Psalms there’s a good bit of both singular and plural references.  In some cases, I’m sure the people around me aren’t Christians either.  There are other issues there, but me singing plural doesn’t really loop them in somehow (we all know that).  Christianity is a personal decision so I don’t see a problem making it plural or singular.

    All that said, I’m more worried about the songs that have a lot about “me” and “we” but lack anything about Jesus!  I don’t seem them often, but some seem to be very light on worship or acknowledgment/praise/adoration of God/Jesus.  I’m happy to cut those first…

  • Anonymous

    I had an interesting conversation with a non-believing friend who visited a worship service at a church with me about this topic. In fact it was his first question to me. “Why were all the songs so focused on me/I?” Thanks for the good dialogue.

  • http://blog.rrchapman.us/ Bob Chapman

    Lex orandi, lex credendi. If you don’t know what that means, read about it up in Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lex_orandi,_lex_credendi Many people only think of this in terms of making worship conform to our beliefs. While that is a good idea, people tend to forget the part of worship in an individual Christians formation in the faith. The words we say and the songs we sing change our personal lives (Paul has something to say about this).

    There are times where personal piety are appropriate in worship. “Just as I am without one plea” has a place. However, it is rude to worship in a group of other people without acknowledging the people on every side of you. You can’t keep saying “I” instead of “we” without encouraging ignoring the brother and sister on either side of you.

    If you aren’t happy with the individual members of the Body of Christ, watch how those individuals worship.

  • Erin

    There is no “I” in “we”… thus we are afraid we might become blind?

  • http://nailtothedoor.blogspot.com Dan Martin

    Kurt, you ask an important question, but only one of several that need to be asked on this subject.  To your specific point, I say “yes.”  The singular pronoun in worship and, for that matter, in our salvation and gospel teaching generally, detracts from the communal and plural aspects of the kingdom (actually, it’s quite worthwhile to look at New Testament commands in the original Greek and see how frequently they are plural, not singular too).

    But I think a deeper problem in American worship is the use of the first-person pronoun whether singular OR plural.  Worship shouldn’t be about “us” any more than it should be about “me.”  It’s about God, and should be talking about God and his attributes, not about how God or those attributes make us feel.

    This is one of several issues I have with David Crowder’s music (sorry man, I think his stuff is absolutely ghastly).  He focuses a whole lot on that introspection that I think has very little, if any place in true worship which ought to be about getting OUT of ourselves and focusing on our Lord.  (he’s also got bad theology–way too Calvinist, nonsensical poetry, very little tune and even less harmony but hey, he means well!  lol).  “Lift your hands and spin around, see the love that I have found…”  What drivel is that?  And “what was said to the rose to make it unfold/was said to me now in my heart…”  Completely useless!  But I digress…

    In general, I do think we should bring a critical eye to what is said in worship.  Much of it, to me, proclaims the message “Jesus is the non-drug alternative to Prozac!”  That’s not what adoring our king is about.

    • http://whitherthougoest.wordpress.com/ Brad Anderson

      Yes, I was thinking as I read the title, “Well, isn’t it all about Jesus?” Of course, it needs to be Trinitarian, but you get the gist. An OT prof put up a psalm one day in class; it was all about God’s greatness and love and mercy, and then had a couple of statements at the end about the people’s needs. Then she said (since the context was a seminary-wide discussion of the “worship wars”), “I don’t care if you blow the doors off the back of the church with the drums. We’re just two lines at the end.”

      I do resonate with the point – I’ll often wish to sub “we” for “I” in a lot of contemporary (and evangelical hymn) music, but for the most part, I just think there’s too much “us” altogether.

    • Koz

      I guess it’s time to bring back stuff like songs written by John Michael Talbot and Michael Card! :-D
       
        Honestly, I think a big part of the problem is when we get overly concerned about making church services about evangelistic outreach instead of about worshipping God.  Evangelism is what believers do every day outside of the service.  The weekly service is about the believers worshipping God.  When we make it about just inviting a friend to church, and letting the pastor, worship team, etc. try to “win them over” , we often end up using the “let’s try not offend the unbeliever” approach (which according to the Bible is improbable at best, if not impossible), that usually ends up “watering everything way down” in order that they might like it enough to come back.  Let’s save ourselve’s some trouble and do like Jesus and the apostles did: Tell the whole truth right up front, let them “follow or not” and let the worship service return to focus on God, rather than on “will they like it and come back?”.

      • http://nailtothedoor.blogspot.com Dan Martin

        Funny, Card is one of my favorite Christian musicians precisely because his stuff is theologically meaty and frequently requires some serious thought about its meaning.  Talbot I really loved some of his work, though the solo guitar and lyrics got a little old for me after a while.  Talbot’s “The Lord’s Supper” and “Light Eternal” are wonderful works even for a non-Catholic like me.

        A more modern equivalent who has musical and lyrical quality IMO is Chris Rice.

        I do think these guys exemplify rigor in both lyrical and musical composition.  I care less about the style than (as I said before) about the theology and the musical structure–that is, there being some!  ;{)

        And to be fair, the old music included plenty of trash too…”Church in the wildwood” anyone?  How about most stuff by the Gaithers?

  • Mike Ward

    Hmmmm, at one point I think you said, “I don’t know how I feel about this.” So I think we agree because I don’t know either. I respect your aim here that’s for sure, but it’s hard for me to really decide how important this is.

    I do think that among a group that really has a sense of community, people will still feel like a community even if the wording of the songs is individualistic. And in a group where everyone puts themselves ahead of the group then no ammount of inclusive language will make them a community.

    Still, there’s no harm in having accurate language in our music, and we are supposed to be a community after all.

    What about how we sing? I think congregational singing reflects this idea of togetherness more than choirs and solos (not that there isn’t a place for those.)

    Also, I just had a thought. Eph 5:19 seems to regard singing as an act the members do to each other rather than something they do collectively to God, but I think while individualistic there’s something very communal about singing to each other.

    We are also told to confess to one another. That’s an indivual act for sure, but it would also strengthen community I think.

    I don’t know if there’s always a clear distinction between individual language and collective. When I say to my wife, “I love you” and she responds “I love you too” we reenforce a bond. Beyond that if a song comes on the radio and I say, “I love this song” and she says “I love it too” we reenforce our bond.

    But I’m not disagreeing with you. I want to emphasize that because sometimes I feel like I’m becoming a contrarian around here, and I don’t want to be.

  • Jeremiahjob

    Ok, so after listening I think that in the musical aspect of worship the church should follow the biblical pattern of the ‘us’ as it is used in the Psalms frequently ie. the Songs of Ascents, and the personal ‘we’ shouldn’t be off limits but ‘us’ perhaps is best. Of course our worship can only come from a real personal walk with the Lord, or it is just vain, but we worship because we once were not a people but now are a people, this should be reflected and modeled for the body of Christ as much as possible.

  • Jeremiahjob

    Ok, so after listening I think that in the musical aspect of worship the church should follow the biblical pattern of the ‘us’ as it is used in the Psalms frequently ie. the Songs of Ascents, and the personal ‘we’ shouldn’t be off limits but ‘us’ perhaps is best. Of course our worship can only come from a real personal walk with the Lord, or it is just vain, worship is a response to something but we worship, we once were not a people but now are a people, this should be reflected and modeled for the body of Christ as much as possible.

  • http://www.ZionMilaca.org/ Blenkush

    Kurt-I am sitting in my study and I happen to have a copy of my Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal (ELCA) and I did a very non-scientific scan of the hymns found in the ELW and to be honest 9 out of 10 of the hymns use language of “Us” and “We” as opposed to “I” or “Me” or “My”.  In other words, while I am aware of worship traditions that tend to lean to the “Me and Jesus” side of the scale, I have not expereinced that to such a degree in the Lutheran tradition for most part (But then I also avoid the pietist in our tradition when ever possible.) Thanks for raising the question.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      Great comment. Thanks @721229f70e5ecf0d0e5b11830dbcfb16:disqus !

  • Mark Leberfinger

    Kurt, first of all I love your “kingdom” definition of worship. It really resonates with me because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Kingdom living and how that might look in terms of preaching, worship and living.

    I believe you’re right about the individualized worship. To me, it doesn’t fit what Vernard Eller called the “caravan” way of the church where people are living and working together for the Kingdom in the here and now. This “Me and Jesus” idea turns the church into a dispenser of grace content to stay in one place, hich I don’t believe is the right way of the church.

    Thanks for posing the questions. Blessings.

  • Mark Leberfinger

    Kurt, first of all I love your “kingdom” definition of worship. It really resonates with me because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Kingdom living and how that might look in terms of preaching, worship and living.

    I believe you’re right about the individualized worship. To me, it doesn’t fit what Vernard Eller called the “caravan” way of the church where people are living and working together for the Kingdom in the here and now. This “Me and Jesus” idea turns the church into a dispenser of grace content to stay in one place, hich I don’t believe is the right way of the church.

    Thanks for posing the questions. Blessings.

  • Mark Leberfinger

    Kurt, first of all I love your “kingdom” definition of worship. It really resonates with me because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Kingdom living and how that might look in terms of preaching, worship and living.

    I believe you’re right about the individualized worship. To me, it doesn’t fit what Vernard Eller called the “caravan” way of the church where people are living and working together for the Kingdom in the here and now. This “Me and Jesus” idea turns the church into a dispenser of grace content to stay in one place, hich I don’t believe is the right way of the church.

    Thanks for posing the questions. Blessings.

  • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

    Did you notice  the embedded message of “taking worship to some exciting places for some of us who are younger and excited about the movement of the kingdom” as if to say those of us who are older and don’t listen to DCB aren’t excited about the movement of the kingdom? I know you didn’t mean it that way but jez saying… 

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

      @karenzach:disqus …. that is putting words in my mouth…. come on now ;-)  I was speaking to the music of my generation and therefore discussing the kingdom impact it is having.  The same could be said of any generation of Jesus followers.  I was critiquing my generation in a kind way, more than anything.  Not sure if you’ve dealt with generational issues in your context.  Sorry to hit a nerve.  And to be clear, I currently attend a church that is 75% late-middle age or older and sings only hymns… and I am happy to be there.

      Have a great day Karen!

      • http://karenzach.com Karen Spears Zacharias

        Like I says, I know you didn’t mean it that way, just a bit of observation.. no nerve. :) The problem with hymns is that you have memorize them because at my age you can’t see the words without readers and bright lights. heheha

        • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

          @karenzach:disqus … Ok… good :-)  HA HA! My problem at my church is that I wear glasses for distance and we sing from hymnal books.  I have to take my glasses off and on all service long.  I’m pretty sure the people sitting around me are mocking me inside :-)  Anyway, have a wonderful rest of the week.

  • Shelly

    Yes it is a problem. I think part of it stems from people not fully understanding what worship is and the depths that it goes to, especially corporately. I would also go so far as to question why we are singing about ourselves at all? Plural or singular. If it is worship, maybe we should be focusing on God and what He does rather than on us, how we feel, etc. Because really, it isn’t about our feelings, but about giving credit where it is due. Do we have time to minister to God or is it really all about God ministering to us? Do we only value a worship session on whether we feel fulfilled or whether we feel God was? How many times does the Bible encourage us to “praise the Lord” the reason being things like “He has done glorious things” etc. How many times is praise a simple declaration like “Holy, Holy, Holy!” It isn’t, “God, I am feeling like you are holy right now, I really love you, you are good to me, etc” There is a lot of I and not always so much You (to God). But I still love corporate worship!! :)

  • Sharon1701

    Hmmm….  this gives me something to ponder.  I am on the praise and worship team and love corporate worship.  There does seem to be some ‘disconnect’ in the church worship – even though we are all there together.  I like the idea of saying “we”  instead of “I” all the time.  Maybe more of a ‘balancing’ is needed. 
    Will think on this more….. :)
    God Bless!

  • http://www.kellenfreeman.net Kellen Freeman

    I think there is a problem with worship music. The individualism is strong. But I don’t think every song needs to be changed. God does know each of us individually, so reflecting that is important. But our culture is so individualized, I think it would speak wonders of the church if we brought community back in that context.

    The biggest problem for me is the emotional one-note of worship music. I get tired of singing happy songs on a regular basis. There are some Sundays where I show up not sure if God exists or I’m in a bitter mood. I know singing songs of joy can help change my mood to reflect that, but I would like a bit more variety. Sing songs of anger, doubt, pain, sorrow. The Psalms cover it all, why shouldn’t we today?

  • Stewart F.

    I am on of the worship leaders at a very large church. I do partially agree with you. When I listen to Christian radio (which isn’t often) most of the songs sound like boyfriend and girlfriend songs to Jesus, which is kind of creepy to me. Maybe that’s part of the reason I don’t listen to much radio. There is a song I’ve heard a few times called “More Like Falling in Love” that has some seriously odd and theologically inaccurate statements about our relationship with Jesus, from my perspective. So the reason I say I partially agree with you is because every church isn’t necessarily singing songs that do not include big “Us” statements. 

    At my church, we avoid these types of songs. That’s one of the reason songs like “Our God”, “You Alone Can Rescue”, “Sing to the King”, “Forever” etc, are big wins with our congregation. PArtially because they are good songs and partially because of the reasons you brought up. The language is centered around the congregation singing to God, not just one person. 

  • Justin Spurlock

    The first personal singular language is natural for our culture. Coming out of the revival generation of Billy Sunday and Billy Graham that emphasized a personal, individual relationship with Jesus where a person received Jesus into my heart, what else would we expect? That theology still holds the predominant position in evangelical culture and has even had a major influence on the laity in mainline and Catholic traditions. As we move farther away from the revivalists, so too will our music and lyrics change for better and for worse.

  • Justin Spurlock

    The first personal singular language is natural for our culture. Coming out of the revival generation of Billy Sunday and Billy Graham that emphasized a personal, individual relationship with Jesus where a person received Jesus into my heart, what else would we expect? That theology still holds the predominant position in evangelical culture and has even had a major influence on the laity in mainline and Catholic traditions. As we move farther away from the revivalists, so too will our music and lyrics change for better and for worse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.oller Stephen Oller

    I believe the whole contemporary process of worship needs to be rethought.  There’s far too much emphasis on emotion.  Just because you “feel” something when singing a particular worship song doesn’t mean either you’re worshiping or that the Holy Spirit is moving.  Music itself is designed to produce an emotional reaction.  There are many secular songs on my playlist that get me totally pumped and excited (“Call to Arms” by Manowar comes to mind).  How is the reaction I get when listening to that song different than the reaction I experience during a contemporary worship service?

    Asked in another way, are we worshiping Jesus Christ  the way *we* want to or the way *Christ* wants us to?

  • http://twitter.com/rickEyL2 rickEy Lumpkin II

    Kurt, nice thoughts man.  I don’t think there is a problem with the abundance of individualized language in corporate worship.  I believe that it is important that we do worship together, and that we do include “we” language.  But we have to get the message to hit each individual.  Singing things reflecting “He loves me” makes the message personal and not just skip over the individual in a “He loves the good people here” way.  I think it is important that the worship services incorporates the “we” language and engages the corporate environment, but we need to make sure the individuals can “know the gospel for themselves” (for lack of better language).  

  • http://dancrumrine.wordpress.com/ Dan Crumrine

    If worship is defined as a response to the character and work of God, then there is certainly room for personal response in our daily walking-about lives. Singing a song with individualized lyrics in the context of the gathering  can provide an opportunity an opportunity for us to learn and rehearse the language that we will need for these times of personal response and reflection.

    I do not believe that the individual-centered language of so much of the contemporary music is dangerous on its own. However, when it is coupled with an utter lack of awareness of the gathered community, it is certainly not a healthy practice. The real problem occurs when we walk into the gathering place and lower what a good friend of mine calls ‘the cone of worship’ over ourselves. We listen to the sermon while wearing this cone. We sing songs of praise while wearing this cone. We even, inexplicably, attempt to participate in the eucharist while wearing this cone, all the while taking no note of the gathered community, focused on what we ourselves are ‘getting out of the service’.

    When and if we remove the ‘cone’ and we look around ourselves and realize that we are part of something much bigger and greater than our own individual lives, the ‘I’ in our songs ceases to be an individual ‘I’ and becomes a communal ‘I’.

    Just some more thoughts to add to the pot. :)

  • MartyTroyer

    Kurt, Good questions. I don’t think there is any way to imagine a lyrical change stemming the tide of western individualism. Is it an essential component? Perhaps. But it can’t be all that we do.

    After all, there is so much more about our Christian and worship experience that screams “Me and Jesus.” The overwelming cultural inertia in the US [evangelical] church is individualistic, you’ll have to change more than from “me” to “we.” Unless you change the theoretical assumptions of individualism to a more holistic, systemic, integrated social theory, no lyric will win this for you.

    Seating arrangement, mono-voiced teaching and sermons, celebrity hierarchy’s, “sharing time” that is based on individualistic prayer requests rather than community-based prayer requests or even better sharing the builds up the body of Christ, Bible study/quiet time/devotional practices that are done alone rather than in common, sermon applications that are strictly for the individual and not for groups like congregations or families.

    Here’s my take, if you were to participate in a community that did all of things well, highlighting our relationship to the whole (rather than separateness from it) singing a very personal “Me and Jesus” song would sound quite different, perhaps even ok. Or, maybe it would stand out even more, I don’t know. But it would be less offensive to me. On the other hand, doing everything ELSE in an individualistic way and changing the lyrics to be communal, doesn’t really do anything for me, it feels like a band aid.

    Thanks for the good questions. I like the vido format.

  • http://www.thecrookedmouth.com Anderson Campbell

    Kurt–Right on, man. I wrote a post along these same lines back in November (http://www.thecrookedmouth.com/an-open-letter-to-worship-leaders). We sing our theology. 

    Several people have noted in the comments here that a simple pronoun change probably won’t “stem the tide of individualism.” Perhaps. But I can think of no better place to start than with our sung offerings. At the very least, they need to reflect the reality that when these songs are sung, we’re not alone. It’s not “me and Jesus,” it’s “we and Jesus.” 

    Love your blog (and your vlogs). Keep it up.

  • Susan Phillips

    In July of 2009, Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori of the ELCA, named individualistic salvation as a heresy. I know that the word “heresy” has been thrown around way too much of late. However, the very idea of our indispensibility within the body of Christ would seem to imply that we are not saved apart of the communion of saints. Here is a link to Jefferts-Schori’s statement:
    http://www.anglicanessentials.ca/wordpress/index.php/2009/07/08/presiding-bishop-katherine-jefferts-schori-redefines-heresy/

  • http://boehadden.wordpress.com/ Erik

    When I first encounter the Trisagion prayers of the Orthodox Church this is one of the things that struck me– they are worded in the plural. I didn’t like it at first, but now I love it! example: “O heavenly King, O Comforter, Spirit of Truth, who art in all placess and fills all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of Life, come and abide in us, cleanse us from every stain and save our souls, O Good One.” and “Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us.” and “O Most Holy Trinity have mercy on us.Lord, cleanse us from our sins. Master, pardon our inquities. Holy One visit and heal our infirmities for your Name’s sake.”

    The whole thing is plural language–an constant reminder that the we always approach God with a great cloud of witnesses and are never apart from the whole Church (and are never purely individuals interacting with God).

    Thanks for the post, Kurt!

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.brown.catlett Andrea Catlett

    I understand this issue to be a dilemma.  I have wrestled with it many
    times.  This is my conclusion:
    (However, I conclude to be in a continual process of making a conclusion.) Many
    songs are written out of personal times with God.  For instance, 
    “Lord I Give You My Heart” was probably first sang out of a personal
    devotional time with God.  I have
    written songs and know songwriters to pour out their heart before God
    personally and after their personal time they are ecstatic to share what God
    has done in them.  It is kind of
    like a testimony.  People have a
    unique and different testimony that represents how God has changed their
    life.  So should all of our songs
    come out of someone’s personal devotion – NO! I think most churches do not give
    enough time for spontaneous worship.  
    Many times out of spontaneous worship songs rise.  When songs are written in spontaneous
    worship they are more likely to be written in the context of we, us etc. 

  • Nathan

    This may be graphic for some:

    I think worship is a lot like love making between a husband a wife.  It’s a place where love is expressed in the most intimate, bonding and life giving form. It’s  a two-way experience.  It’s not about following steps or checking lists and it’s not really about what’s spoken or how it’s said.

    God woos us and He pursues us and He desires to pour his very strength into us. This is about a shared  experienced and a drawing together which eventually births life in us. 

    Just like a marriage promise is about much more than love making, our worship is about much more than song.  But the song, just like love making, is an experience we can’t have a healthy relationship without.  

  • Tom T

     I agree, There is a problem. But I think the solution begins with an elevated theology of the Eucharist. The way many of our services function do not make those communal songs intelligible because the Eucharist is not made the central aspect of our worship practice.

  • Chad Grissom

    Kurt, For what it is worth I, searched through the Psalms and “I/me” occurs around 1777 and “we/us” occurs around 241 times and these were certainly used for community worship in Israel. I imagine our worship reflects Western individualism but I wonder if it might manifest differently than just in the pronouns we use. 

  • justacommenter

    This is the worst offender to me because not only is it “me and Jesus” but its, “no one has it as good as me and Jesus”:

    he walks with me and he talks with me
    and he tells me I am his own
    and the joy we share while we terry there
    none other has ever known

    That last line ruins what’s otherwise a wonderful country-style hymn.


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