Who is this Jamin guy anyway?
I am the husband of one and the father of nine. I was created to sing, to worship, to encourage, and to be steady. I am the Owner & Executive Director of Trinity Arts Center, a multi-disciplinary Arts Center in Eastern Tennessee, and the President of Trinity Arts Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization focused on funding arts education and performance. I've been involved with four music projects in my life -- Hot Pink Turtle, Spin Radio, Stand Like Stone, and of course, Jamin Rathbun.

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After leading the youth in praise and worship this weekend, I walked out into the main foyer to cool down a bit (I was pretty sweaty). As I walked up toward the main auditorium, I met up with two men, having just come out of worship in "big church." Let me preface this by saying that I don't know either of these guys well and I don't pretend to judge their hearts in any way. What I will judge (actually compare) is how we both looked after coming away from our praise and worship experience.

Here's a picture of me, sweaty and breathing hard and smiling as big as I can and then -- a picture of these two men, quietly whispering about some work politics as they exit the auditorium.

What does that say about the praise and worship experience we particpated in that day? Should you walk away from the experience sweaty and smiling or should you walk away talking about what you're going to be busy with the following week?

Now don't get me wrong. There are plenty of times when I fail to focus like I should. There are lots of times when I am distracted. I'm far from a perfect example of how true praise and worship should be done. However, I think I have a picture of what we should be aiming at and I'm pretty sure that our youth groups generally come closer to it than we, as adults, do.

Psalm 136
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever.
who made the great lights - His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.
to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt His love endures forever.
and brought Israel out from among them His love endures forever.
with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever.
to him who divided the Red Sea asunder His love endures forever.
and brought Israel through the midst of it, His love endures forever.
but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; His love endures forever.
to him who led his people through the desert, His love endures forever.
who struck down great kings, His love endures forever.
and killed mighty kings - His love endures forever.
Sihon king of the Amorites - His love endures forever.
and Og king of Bashan - His love endures forever.
and gave their land as an inheritance, His love endures forever.
an inheritance to his servant Israel; His love endures forever.
to the One who remembered us in our low estate, His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies, His love endures forever.
and who gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.

I know we talked a bit about how praise should look last month but -- try to get a picture of what it looked like when people gathered to sing this song. Do you think they stood motionless in their pew or with their hands in their pockets? Do you get a picture of musicians quietly strumming their instruments, so as not to offend any sensitive listeners? Absolutely not!

The picture I get is of people shouting that refrain over and over again -- "His love endures forever!" I imagine the entire congregation looking forward to singing it out in unison as the band blows the doors off the joint with an energy and melody so infectious that you can't resist joining in.

That, I'm sad to say, doesn't look much like my church's time of praise and worship. Actually it is what our youth worship looks like but -- for some reason the adults just don't seem to get it. Yes, there's a time for quiet reflection. Yes, there's a time to be still but...

The praise and worship experience should be both. It should include over-the-top praise and it should include reflection upon how great God is and how small we are.

Anyway... I assume that most of you reading this site are involved in some way with the praise and worship at your church. Maybe it's time to step up and change the culture at your church. I don't mean to over-dramatize this topic but -- I think it's time to set some people free. = )

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