Spiritual growth is wonderful, but sometimes I come out of it feeling like an idiot. How could I have been so blind or ignorant, I think. Oh well, I can always use a little humbling in the process also. For example, several years ago, I was convinced hymns were outdated and contemporary music was more likely to produce genuine worship in a church service. If I didn't "feel" the Holy Spirit during the service, it wasn't worshipful. You know, all that self-centered thinking the church is full of today, and pretty much always has been. Check out this quote I ran across recently:
“There are several reasons for opposing it: It’s too new. It’s too worldly, even blasphemous. The new Christian music is not as pleasant as the more established style and because there are so many new songs you can’t learn them all. It puts too much emphasis on instrumental music rather than on godly lyrics. This new music creates disturbances, making people act disorderly. The preceding generation got along without out.”
Want to take a guess at when those comments were made? In 1723 as a criticism of Isaac Watts the writer of “Joy to the World” and “I Sing the Mighty Power of God.” Amazing, isn't it? While the corporate worship service is only one aspect of our personal worship, it is one that gets much attention and criticism. But before we voice an opinion, we should ask ourselves a few questions.
Do we attend corporate worship with the sole intent of honoring God? Are we focused on God or the elements of the service and whether they are to our liking? On the planning side, are the songs and other elements of the service chosen because we think someone will find it entertaining, or it will keep so and so satisfied and pre-empted from grumbling for a week? Do we try to pick a little something to please everyone? Or are we solely concerned with what will glorify God and draw people to Him?
Eugene Peterson puts it this way, "I don't think people care a whole lot about what kind of music you have or how you shape the service. They want a place where God is taken seriously, where they're taken seriously."
Bob Kauflin, Director of Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries, stated in a recent blog article, "Over time, worship leaders and pastors should be training the church to think and sing in more biblical terms, without forgetting new believers and guests who may also be present on Sunday morning. My job as a leader is to make sure that there’s enough biblical truth in the words to stir people’s affections in the right way. I know people can genuinely worship God while singing lyrics like, “Fire, fall on me” or “Come and fill me up,” but I want to give them food to feed on, not simply an opportunity to express emotions, however sincere.
"I want them to clearly remember how great, good, glorious, and amazing our God is. That means my first priority in picking songs is words, not music. That’s not to say that music isn’t important. It’s just that music serves to support lyrics, not the other way around. We worship a “weighty” God whose glory surpasses all we can imagine, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whose splendors will never fade."
Kauflin also states in his new teaching videos, "We don't want people leaving our meetings saying, 'what a great band.' We want them leaving saying, 'what a great Savior.'"
We all play a part in whether our church is a place where God is honored. Motives and attitudes are key.