Worship With Us

Is worship making you lonely?A couple weeks ago I confessed that worship times at church often leave me feeling lonely. My proposition was that this was, in part, to the lyrics of the songs themselves. (Along with a few other factors.)

I wrote:

I wonder what it’d be like to stand with my brothers and sisters in Jesus and lift our voices in worship proclaiming that I, me, mine are cheap compared to the power of we, us, ours?

Putting We Into Worship

I’d like to illustrate my pronoun point by rewriting a few popular songs so that they focus is not on me and my faith and instead about us and our faith. (Once you notice the pronoun thing, you’ll also notice that songwriters often switch voice between chorus and verse.)

See if you notice a difference: 

Mighty to Save

 

(Chorus:)
Savior

He can move the mountains

My God is mighty to save

He is mighty to save

Forever

Author of Salvation

He rose & conquered the grave

Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me

All my fears & failures

Fill my life again

I give my life to follow

Everything I believe in

Now I surrender (I surrender)

Mighty to Save

 

(Chorus:)
Savior

He can move the mountains

Our God is mighty to save

He is mighty to save

Forever

Author of Salvation

He rose & conquered the grave

Jesus conquered the grave

So take us as You find us

All our fears & failures

Fill our life again

We give our lives to follow

Everything we believe in

Now we surrender (We surrender)

You Are My King

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken

I’m accepted, You were condemned

I’m alive and well, Your Spirit is within me

Because You died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be

That You, my King, should die for me?

Amazing love, I know it’s true

It’s my joy to honor You

In all I do, to honor You

You are my King

You are my King

Jesus, You are my King

You are my King

You Are Our King

We’re forgiven because You were forsaken

We’re accepted, You were condemned

We’re alive and well, Your Spirit is within us

Because You died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be

That You, our King, should die for us?

Amazing love, We know it’s true

It’s our joy to honor You

In all we do, we honor You

You are our King

You are our King

Jesus, You are our King

You are our King

Forever Reign

Verse 1

You are good You are good

When there’s nothing good in me

You are love You are love

On display for all to see

You are light You are light

When the darkness closes in

You are hope You are hope

You have covered all my sin

Verse 2

You are peace You are peace

When my fear is crippling

You are true You are true

Even in my wandering

You are joy You are joy

You’re the reason that I sing

You are life You are life

In You death has lost it’s sting

Chorus

Oh I’m running to Your arms

I’m running to Your arms

The riches of Your love

Will always be enough

Nothing compares to Your embrace

Light of the world forever reign

Forever Reign

Verse 1

You are good You are good

When there’s nothing good in us

You are love You are love

On display for all to see

You are light You are light

When the darkness closes in

You are hope You are hope

You have covered all our sin

Verse 2

You are peace You are peace

When our fear is crippling

You are true You are true

Even in our wandering

You are joy You are joy

You’re the reason that we sing

You are life You are life

In You death has lost it’s sting

Chorus

Oh we’re running to Your arms

We’re running to Your arms

The riches of Your love

Will always be enough

Nothing compares to Your embrace

Light of the world forever reign

What’s Your Point, McLane?

My point is simple: Words matter. They have impact and they reveal our heart. Over the years I’ve heard many sermons whose main point hinged on the meaning of a single word.

My hope is that as we gather to worship God we are reminded that we are better than me. 

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in Ahwahnee, California.

18 comments

  1. I agree. Our overuse of “I” in worship songs has bothered me for a long time. Sometimes I’ll change the words to “our” when I’m singing in order to better reflect where my heart is at during worship, and reflectmore of a communal focus on God and his love for us.

    1. I do the same thing. And in our context specifically… there is an audible difference in the volume of congregational singing with “we” inclusive songs vs inward “me” songs.

  2. Balance is needed, I think in this case we may have swayed past a good point on the individual nature of our faith. Faith is a mix of both the individual and the corporate. We cannot exercise our with without each other, and yet our faith is also profoundly individual in how God interacts with each of us. I really like the change in mentality when switching from I/Me to We/Us.

    1. How much of that thought about our individual faith is grounded in our western culture and not necessarily the Bible alone? (Not asking because I know, but really curious how you see it.)

      1. Oh I was going to ask that. I find it very interesting that this is an issue because it seems in other cultures, pretty much everything is corporate and shared. It’s not about “I” and all about “family”, or “tribe” or “group”, etc. So I commend that you’re wrestling through this, but I wonder if this is something that is more cultural than it is theological? Just a question…

      2. I just had an interesting discussion with my mom who brought an interesting aspect about the negative side of “we”. Coming from a context in which her home country was torn because of communism (and being from that generation), she warned to beware of the glorification of “we” in which we lose our individuality (there is no “I” in Communism, only nation and government). Just as Scripture equates the one with one (Adam’s sin to Christ’s redemption), she was saying how God values that us individually as His children and then tells us to love others in the same way, which creates the “we”. So her thrust was, if we aren’t right before the Lord in the “I”, how can we be right in the “we” with each other? Just a food for thought 🙂

  3. There is a worship song I read about, and I cant remember where, but the original lyrics are something about a sloppy wet kiss, many if not most churches change it to somehting else so as not to offend anyone. This isnt a worship issue as much as a cultural issue.

    I do believe it was on Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff.

    1. That’d be “How He Loves Us” by John Mark McMillan. (When Crowder covered it, he changed the lyric.)

      My wife and I play a little game… “worship song or really kinky love song.” There’s a very fine line as there are popular songs which don’t mention God or Jesus at all. As if, this was a bad pop song but it didn’t sell. So we sing it in church and re-make it as a worship song.

  4. (It’s hard to build community when our language is always individual. The same consideration applies to those who lead prayer in worship and whose words speak for the entire congregation–“we pray” rather than “I pray”, etc.

  5. As I read this I must confess to thinking you were just overthinking things. Then I actually sang through the modified lyrics to each song and it did conjure up markedly different feelings… feelings of community… of being in this together. Good stuff.

  6. Is there a difference, then, between “worship songs” like those listed above, and hymns?So many of our hymns also use “I”, as in “I Stand Amazed in the Presence”, and “I Know Whom I Have Believed”, and “Just As I Am” and even a song considered a chorus back in its day, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”. Do you feel the same disconnect when singing hymns that use the pronouns “I” and “me” and “mine”?

  7. This is such an interesting discussion Adam. I would say there is a balance in scripture between individual and corporate relationship with God. We read stories of whole groups and families coming to God as the church bloomed, but also of individual conversions. I would venture to say the same is true today. We have both an individual relationship with God, and a corporate relationship, and those aspects should both be reflected through our corporate worship times. From the musical perspective is it okay for us to change lyrics of popular worship songs to fit our theological contexts? I have heard many an argument for adding more localized songwriting (which is a difficult task) to our worship experiences (Not that all are gifted songwriters, or that songs don’t stand the test of time, space, and culture change). I would venture that a song written within a community would bring more meaning when sung within that community regardless of the pronoun language? What say you?

    1. Not pretending to have a lot of answers. I just know this pronoun thing is speaking to me lately.

      I do believe that I & me is weak when compared to we & us. We weren’t meant to walk this path alone, the surrender of self is celebrated as an act of worship all over the Bible, and… at the end of the day… I can’t shake the loneliness I experience in worship simply by trying to fix myself or ignore it or pretend like it’s awesome when it isn’t.

  8. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this. I believe that if a
    writer of a worship song was moved to write a song making it personal with God, how can anyone argue with that. Not every song that is written touches everyone in the same way. Sermons are much the same way. Almost every time I hear the song “Amazing Grace” it almost brings a tear to my eye knowing the words and history of the song. If it were rewritten to change the words from “me” to “we”, it would likely have less of an impact, at least on myself. Although I know that Jesus died for us collectively, my preference is for simple worship songs that try and be personal with God, as if I am the only one on his mind, right there, at that time. Just my thoughts.

    Penn

  9. Hi Adam. Thanks for posting about this topic. I have been thinking about this very same thing for the past two years. I’m glad there are other people that feel the same way. Thanks, Daniel

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