Musical instruments are heavily used in western culture when it comes to worship. The modern church will usually have a worship band that consists of a keyboard player, a guitarist, a drummer, bassist and vocals. However, it doesn’t stop there. Nowadays, they’ll use a laptop to plug in to their instrument to either play with a metronome or a backing track and all sorts. As the church gets bigger, stage lights are installed and more technology is inputted. And the list goes on and on. I guess my point is – are these instruments and gadgets and technologies important in order for us to encounter God? Do we need stage lights for the Holy Spirit to move?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not against the use of instruments and tech, but what I want to find out is if it’s biblical or even essential. From what I’ve noticed, there are more chances of technical difficulties as more technology is being used. As a result, it ruins the whole vibe of the worship. Even the worship team will have to think about how to get it right rather than focusing on worshipping God.
If we look back at the story of Paul and Silas on chapter 16 of the book of Acts, we see that they were in prison. They were just praying and singing hymns to God and then suddenly, there was an earthquake which shook the foundations of the prison and their chains fell off! – There were no instruments or stage lights. I don’t even know if Paul and Silas had the right technique when singing, but God definitely heard them. They encountered God and they felt His power.
We see the same thing in the east; underground churches in China seem to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit more than the western church. Nowadays, the churches rely on technology and instruments too much. To the point that if the guitarist or keyboard player is missing without a replacement, the whole vibe of the worship has changed. Suddenly there is a barrier in between our worship and God’s throne. If the musicians are not skillful enough, it hinders the congregation from worshipping properly. Or even if the band is great and there’s a lot going on visually (such as stage lights) then the people get distracted and are overwhelmed by the skills of the band rather than focusing on worship.
Maybe it works in a different context, like a worship concert. A place that provides an environment which is open to all sorts of people. Recently, I attended a Christian festival called the Big Church Day Out, where various Christian artists from all over the world come together to perform on stage – or should I say that it provides an environment of worship on a bigger scale? As I was watching, I was definitely impressed by the lighting, their skills as musicians and the way they interacted with the crowd. Even though this was the case, it was still hard for me to focus on worshipping in a place where the Christian artists were seen as celebrities and that there would rarely be an opportunity to see them perform in your hometown.
I should emphasise once again that I’m not against the use of instruments and technology, but I believe there are more important aspects which brings down the presence of God while worshipping. Any thoughts?