The White Rabbit Syndrome (The Distracted Worshipper #6)


Part Six of Series: The Distracted Worshipper: A View from the Pew

The White Rabbit chant began about halfway through the concert. At first, Gracie Slick ignored it. Her band, Jefferson Airplane, was recording the concert for their next LP. Our pleas continued, but to no avail. Their soon-to-be released album, “Thirty Seconds Over Winterland”, wasn’t looking backwards—it would feature their best new material. The concert-goers didn’t care…we wanted to hear the classic song that put Jefferson Airplane on the charts. We would not leave satisfied until the dormouse told us to “feed your head. Feed your head.”

Eventually, an aggravated Gracie Slick started arguing with one of the fans. “We’re not going to perform White Rabbit tonight. We’ve done it a thousand times. We’re sick of it. How would you like to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day of your life?”

Like Grace Slick, do today’s worship leaders grow weary of those tried and true songs and hymns? Does the familiar bore them and leave them unchallenged? Do their artistic sensibilities instead drive them to constantly create and innovate?

The distracted worshipper longs for the familiar…for the singable, comfortable tune…for the words that we know and love…for the memories and emotions that the familiar song evokes. The classic hymns and the enduring praise songs are pregnant with history…with our personal history. For the distracted worshipper, one song is connected with a particularly sweet encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, while another with a poignant pain that God has soothed.

The distracted worshipper doesn’t mind learning new songs, but please, not too many and not too often. We hate standing awkwardly, mouthing strange words tethered to foreign tunes. It’s the familiar that fuels worship and causes our soul to soar God-ward.

Some questions to ponder…

  • How do we navigate the gifts and desires and needs of our worship leaders with the desires and needs of our congregation?
  • How do we prevent the familiar from becoming rote and routine?
  • How might we introduce and teach the new more effectively?

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Craig Parro

Since joining Leadership Resources International in 1989, Craig directed its international ministry, and as of January 2010, he now serves as President. A graduate of TEDS (M.A., Mission), Craig is a stimulating teacher and has equipped and encouraged pastors and churches throughout the U.S., Latin America and Asia. Craig also serves on the Board of Directors of TOPIC (Trainers of Pastors International Coalition), an association of pastoral training organizations focused on accelerating pastoral training worldwide. Craig has authored articles appearing in several magazines. His first book, Unlikely Warriors, was published in 1992. He is also co-author of Finishing Well in Life and Ministry: God’s Protection from Burnout.