I know that I talk a lot about running but i can't help it...there is so much in the physical aspects of running that correlate with the spiritual life. So. Let's talk about conditioning. I'll admit, I have a body that was made for long distance running. I have legs that go along with my 5' 10" height comprised of long lean muscles. I think that if I took 6 months off of running I could still head out my door and run 4 or 5 miles without having any training. Now I'm not saying it wouldn't be hard to do but I think I would be able to do it because I have conditioned my body to this type of physical activity. My husband who was an avid surfer from the time he was very young till he moved to Nashville in his early 20's has also conditioned his body to the rigorous task that surfing is. Give me a street and some tennis shoes any day but please don't ask me to do any surfing. The paddling out is enough to make me want to hyperventilate, but, for my husband it is easy. I know there was a time he went years without surfing and then I watched him grab his board and head out and smoothly catch wave after wave. After hours and hours spent in the water over the course of his life he has conditioned himself to do something without even having to think very hard about it. So, where am I going with this? What is the church conditioning people to believe that worship is? How is it helping/hurting them in making worship a real part of their lives?
For 1. I think that many people think of worship music as something that is sung at church on Sundays only. Come Monday morning they are back to the "real" music. You know, a little Beyonce, One Republic, Taylor Swift, Black Eyed Peas, etc. Unfortunately, most of that music does have better beats, recording, production, etc. to hook a listener than most Christian music period. Because of this the worship team should strive for excellence. Musicians, be great at your instrument. Singers, develop the best voice you can. Songwriters, craft your songs without praise phrase and trite-ness. A. W. Tozer says,"We can only worship that which fascinates us." The worship team should lead with hearts that are fascinated by the Father.
2. Churches need to be careful where they place the worship music portion of the service. If the worship music portion of the service starts before the service and when people are walking in the entire time or at the end of the service after the congregation has been dismissed then the people are being conditioned to think of worship music as walk in and walk out music. Obviously walk in and walk out music is not going to be the music that changes peoples lives.
3. I am an avid believer that the church should remove as many distractions as possible during the church service. For instance, dimming the lights during the music portion of the service, is like turning down the radio when you are driving somewhere following directions. Without the distraction of watching people walk in late to the service, women rummaging through their purses, people deciding to stand or sit, or wondering if you are being watched, the main congregation would be able to worship focused and uninhibited.
With a church service that puts a strong emphasis on the importance of worship (in all the forms, music, offering, studying) the people will inevitably begin to be conditioned in a worshipping lifestyle. Perhaps even when the storms blow and bend the congregation they will be able to continue in their worship without having to think about it because they have conditioned their lives to be lives of worship.