Worship style

Wow, that topic could spur a blog or two.

I thought this would be a microblog, but ended up being a little longer than I planned. These are just a few quick thoughts I had after seeing a picture of a friend leading worship, and on the screen behind them were the lyrics to a hymn. So, I thought, "Oh, they're more spiritual because they're doing a hymn. Obviously the deeper theology in the hymns means their worship is better."

Then I stopped to think. What would I say if the words were the newest contemporary hit? "Oh, they're on the cutting edge of playing all the new songs that God wants to hear."

So I thought through my experience of leading worship, and all the times either I had to define my style, or someone tried to define my style for me. I've been leading worship in some capacity (either as leader or band member) for at LEAST once a week for the last 15 years or so. Sometimes several times a day. That's alot. When I'm forced to do hymns, I don't want to do them, and when I'm forced to be "cool" and "cutting edge," I prefer the standards.

My problem does not lie with either style. God doesn't care about that stuff.

What God does care about is WHY we do what we do. If a contemporary song fits the emotional state of the culture of a church, then why not just throw your vulnerable hearts onto the altar and sing with all your might? If a hymn is going to strengthen the theology of a group by reminding us how big our God is, and that our words aren't always sufficient, and some other great writers have already expressed what our vernacular could never put on paper, then sing a hymn!

Just don't do hymns to please the hymn lovers. Don't do hymns to remind them of their childhood. Don't do hymns because it's the trendy super-spiritual thing to do. Don't do contemporary because that's what keeps people coming to church. Don't do contemporary because it's what the next church is doing. Don't do contemporary because it's what the cool kids like. Do songs that honor, glorify, and lift up the powerful name of Jesus. Sing them together. Sing them well. Don't distract from what the Spirit is doing by making more of the song than of the One to whom it is sung.

Musicians ... there IS a difference between your Saturday night gig and worship Sunday morning. Let your playing, your stage presence, and your attitude reflect that.


Sheridan said...

Good stuff, Josh. I reread Up With Worship this past year and was so encouraged. Also, Worship Matters by Kauflin was life-changing.

Emily C! said...

As shallow as this is, the music is the number 1 or 2 thing that gives me the urge to change churches. I like all music to cause me to feel something. In church music, I like to feel my heart touched by God's power or love or magnificence. I don't like music that feels surface-y and cheap. (By surface-y and cheap, I don't mean that all music should be somber and serious, because somber and serious music can also be false.) I'm glad you wrote this...unless I've completely misunderstood your point.