For Non-Catholics: When does worship become self-centered?

Gleaned from another thread.
Examples: Jumbo screens, jokes, emotionalism in preaching, toe-tapping music?
OR, are we reading too much into these things?
What say you?

Contemporary music is cross centered , screens are helpful for newcomers, and other languages, friendly jokes are fine , you are correct on preaching truth not emotions , but over all , you may be reading a little much , just trying to be helpful :slight_smile:

The intention is normally to help people see better. Nothing wrong here I don’t think.

Jokes are okay. Nothing wrong here I don’t think, do you?

I’m not sure what this means? I get emotional when I hear the worship music, listen to the truth being preached and read my Bible as well. Again, I don’t think you take issue do you?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. (and again, and again). Music is cultural. And if the culture we live in likes “loud clashing symbols” and we worship God to it, then that’s entirely okay. It may not be the culture of some African countries, or middle eastern countries but it is here.

Psalm 150:1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! { Hebrew b expanse b ( compare Genesis 1: 6-8 ) }

2 Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!

3 Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!

4 Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!

5 Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

I am n ot a particular fan of contemporary worship. when the idea has come up at our little parish, I as an elder have always said that so long as the important elements of the Divine Worship are present - invocation, Absolution, scripture, homily, liturgy of the sacrament, benediction - contemporary music is fine, as long as it reflects doctrine. Some of the contemporary Christian music doesn’t exactly fit Lutheran doctrine.


Well, this my take on worship. True worship is not self-centered, but God-centered. Because of what we are and who we are, it is pretty hard to be God-centered all the time. We are frail and into every life false pride, false humility, and millions of false perceptions, and false love of id, coming crawling into our spirit like the little serpents that they are. When we were first made we were perfect, but then the apple fell from the tree and it was wormy. However God has given us the opportunity to strive for the God-centered worship the best we can, and erase as much of the self- centeredness “self” behind. Let me know if you achieve God-centered worship because I want to follow your formula and write in stone. Oops, it has already been written, hasn’t it. Peace.

Worship is so very different across cultures, isn’t it? We are used to one style and then we visit another place and are greeted with a totally different way of singing and praying.

I’ve been trying to find a YouTube clip of the dances they do in an African mass, priest included! It’s whole body worship, to say the least.

My first Quaker meeting, on the other hand, was sitting very still for a very long time. There was beauty, and certainly God, in the silence.

A parish in San Francisco has a very unique style of worship, pulled in from Ethiopia, with umbrellas and eastern music, and dance. People come from all over the world to learn liturgy from them.

Here is a quick look if you are interested.

Anyway, I have my own preferences and what I’m used to, but it’s good to experience things out of the box upon occasion.

For me, worship becomes self-centered when it becomes a “feel good, tell them what they want to hear” kind of experience instead of telling the congregants the truth of the Gospel that they need to hear, even if it may ruffle some feathers.

For example, sinners should feel convicted to change their ways but also be encouraged to meet the Good Shepherd who loves them more than they love themselves, Those who are hurting should be comforted, and the Lord should be magnified during worship. If we go just to sing and feel good about ourselves and have our ears tickled and do not want to be challenged to grow in the Lord, worship becomes self-centered. In doing so, we don’t become better Christians and people, in my view, and are just kidding ourselves until we open ourselves up to the Gospel of Christ.

Here is my perspective. You can have all of the above and for some it will be out of self-centeredness. For others, it’s about worshiping God in spirit and in truth.

At the same time, you can have a High Mass and some will want that out of self-centeredness while for others this is how they best are able to worship in spirit and in truth.

A worship style, culture, or aesthetic is never self-centered. People are self-centered, and self-centered people can be found in all churches and all worship environments.

Wonderfully put. Thank you.

As a former Protestant, I’ll post.

I’ve never been a fan of churches which had a pulpit in the center and lacked an altar. This is meant to put an emphasis on “preaching the Word”, but it just seems man-centered to me. Some of these churches (especially reformed and evangelical) seem to borderline idolize their pastors.

An altar in the center (and lectern off to the side) reminds us that God is the center of worship.

Great answers so far guys.
Keep 'em coming.

You can’t have both worship of God and self-centeredness at the same time and in the same respect. You can have worship of self or worship of God, or worship of money, or worship of music, or worship of etc… etc… etc… You can’t serve two masters simultaneously.

Your question reads as though you feel Roman Catholic services never include self-centeredness because of the split into “we and you”. :confused: Jumbo screens can, and often do, contain Bible verses, or wonderful God-centered hymns, therefore jumbo screens are merely tools. Jokes can serve certain purposes that in and of themselves are not self-centered, though it would be hard to say a joke is aiming worship at God, unless we are celebrating humor as His gift, which it most assuredly is. I’ve heard lots of (on purpose) funny priests before… and nuns. :smiley:

I’ve heard just as much “emotionalism” in RC teaching as I have in protestant circles, and further, emotion isn’t bad at all, in fact things like Godly sorrow are praised in scripture, joy, love, etc… are all wonderful God-given human feelings. Have I seen people using emotion in a self-centered manner? Yup. Humans do it all the time in every aspect of our lives, not just in a church building. Genuine feeling and emotion is not bad, it’s the fakey-fakey that is basically a lie, and attempt a giving or receiving a “high” that is no-no, as is false shaming, which also turns people’s eyes off Christ and puts them on themselves. “Doing good” like dropping money in the collection plate or box can also become self-centered…

Music is fantastic and has always been a part of worshiping God, at His command. There’s a time for solemn music, joyful music, toe-tapping music, discordant music, etc… Music that leads away from God and points to self (or the performers) is obviously shifting worship.

In short, I guess for me the answer is simple; it becomes self-centered when we take our eyes off of God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and put them on ourselves, or even on other people for non God-serving reasons. That can be done by the individual in any time or place and we should be guarding our hearts and praying that the Holy Spirit guides us to properly focus on God and to show Him worth. Protestant churches will vary on how well they are set up to focus on God, as well as different RC parishes. (It seems to have a lot to do with the focus and egos of different people in charge of the different aspects of services as well, though the ultimate responsibility is on the individual.)

Welcome back Kliska, long time no see. :thumbsup:


Worship becomes man-centred when the elements of worship are invented by men rather than drawn from the Word of God.


The Holy Eucharist is the summit of worship. It detracts when focus is overly on those mentioned above and not the prayers and sacrifices themselves.

Besides Eucharist, it becomes more and more difficult to have true worship and the above are animations to bring those into the atmosphere of worship. But it would be a struggle to know and to separate emotion and true worship.

We can idolize good preaching pastors – they are good for entertainment but lack the spiritual worship. And the tendency would be to focus on the man and less on God. Thus good speaker draws more people in contrast to dreary ones. Real worship should not depend entirely on man’s talent but on the sacrifices offered up to God.


The central physical act of our Catholic faith is the SHARING of bread and wine in the mystery of the Eucharist. This is not a self-centered act but an act of union with Christ and our fellow Catholics (some would argue with the whole of Creation God so loved).

I think every confessional Lutheran on this board would agree with this, by and large, and request our siblings in the pews take note.


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