What do you think about the worship at your church? Do you like it? Why? Is it too modern, too dated, or just right?
For decades, the church has debated and battled over worship styles. Some want it loud, some want it soft, some want it exciting, some want it reflective, some want hymns, some want contemporary, some want a band, others want a choir. Who’s right, who’s wrong? What does God want?
Let’s look at two ways to think through the issue:
1. Don’t Make Music “Style” an Issue… God Doesn’t
Arguing over music styles is a slippery slope and is never an issue of right or wrong.
Over millennia we have seen the style of music used for worship change based on culture. If you look back to Israel and the book of Psalms, you see the music styles include tambourines and harps.
Psalm 81:1-2 – Sing for joy to God our strength; shout aloud to the God of Jacob! Begin the music, strike the tambourine, play the melodious harp and lyre.
During the early middle ages, the style became more monotone in nature without any musical instruments (i.e. Gregorian chant). During the 16th century, we see a completely different style emerge where melody and full instrumentation played a major factor. Later on, in the 18th century, it became popular for composers to use melodies of popular songs and change the lyrics to make them worship songs. This is when hymns and ¾ time signatures came about.
Now fast-forward to today and you have multiple styles ranging from pop to rock and country to reggae. As you can see historically, the different music styles have been a direct result of different time periods and this is how God has designed it.
Psalm 96:1-2 – Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
This is a very important perspective when it comes to worship wars because battling over music styles is a battle over culture, trying to make one time period better than the other. This, of course, doesn’t work generationally or internationally. We must recognize that God wants new, creative, and relevant worship music for all people for all time periods and there is no right or wrong.
2. Recognize Worship is Your Personal Responsibility
So often we blame worship leaders for not “doing a good job” in leading worship. This is usually based on their style or approach. But when we look at scripture we immediately see that we are all individually responsible for good or bad worship.
John 4:24 – God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
God is looking for worshipers who are devoted and spirit led. He doesn’t care about form and function but only adoration coming from the heart. This is what takes it beyond singing a song on Sunday and into our daily lives. If our hearts are in the right place, we can worship God in line at a grocery store, while driving down the street, or in a church with epic music. The environment shouldn’t matter since we are called to individually lead ourselves into worship!
Yes, the goal of every worship leader is to help you enter into a worship experience but if they don’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t worship. Mature Christians can worship anywhere and at any time. (c.f. Acts 16:23-25)
So the next time you are tempted to get into a worship debate, reflect on these principles and make worship a place of peace, not war!
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