Message summary: Whatever expression we may use let us worship God in spirit and in truth and seek to glorify Him in our musical preference and various styles of worship for all generations. Let’s be a worshiper, not merely an observer.
Brooksyne had an interesting exchange at a Christian bookstore awhile back:
Taking but a second to process such an incorrect impression I responded, “I am very much into praise and worship. I worship God with the contemporary music but I also worship God with the hymns that have been written over many generations. I like to sing the hymns that George Washington might have sung, the songs that Isaac Watts penned hundreds of years ago and I also like to sing the songs that God is giving to His people today.” I’m not so sure he was prepared for my honest response (I was also kind), but it was important for me to correct the false impression of some believers today who think that Praise and Worship has only been created in the last twenty or so years.
In giving this conversation further thought we are part of the great church of God comprised of believers from every generation, including those in the past. Should Christ tarry there will be generations who follow us who will likely see our music and worship styles as primitive or old-fashioned. We acknowledge the validity of different styles of music in our worship services; the composition, the instrumentation, and the singers themselves. I confess that I get a bit agitated when a church or particular group of believers feels that their choice of songs or their delivery of style is the only right way to worship God.
There’s a great deal of variety in songs selected for the worship services but we look for Scripture, adoration and praise, thanksgiving, songs that teach of God’s attributes, songs that call us to obedience and prayer, songs that convict us of sin. We also like simple tunes that people who are untrained musically (which is the majority) can remember after leaving so they can sing it on their own as they go about their day. Several months ago we became familiar with a song titled, “His Mercy Is More” which we now sing all the time although it hasn’t been introduced in the church we attend. We thoroughly enjoy the overriding theme that though our sins are great His mercy is greater, but we also like the simple style of music that is easy to follow and memorize. (Link to video below)
Another challenge we have in our churches today is the lack of repetition due to the vast number of songs to choose from and the driving compulsion worship leaders have to sing the newest, as one said “cutting edge” music. This makes it harder to learn and memorize music today. In addition, we like to see the congregation participating in worship rather than being sung to by the praise team or choir or whomever is leading in worship. It may not be intentional but this is often the case usually due to unfamiliarity with the song.
Today, let us hear the words of our Lord: “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Whatever expression we may use let us worship God in spirit and in truth and seek to glorify Him in our musical preference and various styles of worship for all generations. Let’s be a worshiper, not merely an observer.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, each generation has a chosen people, a royal priesthood who declares Your praises to a lost and dying world filled with darkness. We’re a peculiar people in that we praise You in the good times and we praise You in the bad times; that’s how we show forth Your praises, for it is You who has called us out of darkness into Your marvelous eternal light and it is through Jesus that we continually offer to You, our Father, a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of our lips that confess Christ’s name and the fruit of our lives that prove our words to be genuine. Amen.
Brooksyne’s Extended Note:I led in worship and played piano for over 40 years, so this subject matter is dear to my heart. In certain settings I have to be careful and remind myself that I am in church to worship the Lord and not critique the style of music or presentation of the worship songs. I will confess it is hard at times due to having been the one to select the worship songs for many years so it comes natural to use the same criteria when I participate in worship.
It’s just the way God wired our brains to memorize easily the words we sing. It’s not all that uncommon for a person who suffers a stroke to be robbed of his or her speech. But soon thereafter or years later they once again use their voice to sing along when they hear a familiar song they dearly love, especially the hymns. I saw this happen at a nursing facility in St. Marys, PA probably 35 years ago when I was leading in hymns. I didn’t know it had happened, but I got a phone call one day from a woman who said to me, “My family wanted me to call and let you know that our mother who hasn’t spoken a word in years actually sang out for the first time when you were singing hymns this past week.” I’ll never forget the joy and wonder I felt after their phone call.
Lastly, I’ve learned a lot from a dear elderly woman named Nancy who’s now in her nineties. She was a missionary to Thailand for many years and is now living at Calvary Homes Retirement Village. Nancy always sits in the second row of our church (about 2 or 3 rows in front of us) although she could pick a more distant seat since the building seats about 2000. Nancy always has the most radiant smile and is still able to stand unassisted during the worship time. She often has an uplifted hand as she sings the songs printed out on the power point screen – whether it’s a hymn or a contemporary song that has just been written. She participates eagerly. I have talked with Nancy on occasion and commented to her that she blesses me as she joyfully participates in the worship, both new and old songs. She deflects my praise of her and simply responds, “I love to worship God”. May that be said of us as well, no matter our age!