Leading in worship was what we were told we were doing. When I joined the choir at church it was because I love to sing. I don’t do it all that well but I make a joyful noise. Anyway being part of the choir I got to see things. Things I wish I hadn’t seen, but am ultimately glad I did see.
Music has always moved me deeply. I think it’s like that for a lot of people. I considered a privilege to be a part of others’ worship experience. I thought I was helping people, including myself, go to a deeper place of spirituality, where they met with their Master and were communing with Him in some meaningful way. I knew that it affected me and others emotionally, I just never considered that it was manipulation, at least not until I was in choir practice when the Minister of Music announced that Pastor had asked for a particular song as the choir special this coming Sunday.
Oh, it was a beautiful song. One I’ve always loved, The Majesty and Glory of Your Name. In and of itself the Pastor asking for a particular song wasn’t a bad thing. It was a simple request, not out of line. Not until Sunday. The choir sang the song and had the congregation in a worshipful frame of mind for the Pastor to preach his sermon and for us to be moved by it. He took the pulpit and began his sermon with, “It is amazing how God orchestrates things. I am almost speechless. The Minister of Music had no idea what I’d be preaching, and I had no idea what music he had prepared for today and this song just goes perfectly along with the sermon that God has prepared for me to preach today.”
Huh? To be honest I can’t even remember what he preached except that it was from Psalm 8. I was so flabbergasted and distracted I spent the rest of the service wondering what in the world this man was doing. Why did he even need to say that? Why lie? Not just embellish, not just exaggerate, but bold face lie from the pulpit. That wasn’t the last time I witnessed such a thing. It led to my leaving the choir because I felt like a fraud. We weren’t leading anyone into a deeper relationship with God, we were manipulating their emotions, softening them up for Pastor’s hammer.
At the time I thought this Pastor was just a poor one. I still think that to a large degree. Later it was discovered that he ripped his sermons off of the internet. I’d like to think when a man stands in the pulpit and says he’s preaching what he felt impressed upon by the Holy Spirit to preach that at least he believes that to be true.
How many times had I heard a Pastor, any Pastor, say these kinds of things? I wonder now how often it was a coincidence that the music matched the sermon and how many times the Pastor orchestrated it and called it an act of God? One thing became very clear. Pastors know that music is emotive and they use it to manipulate the sheep.