Local church diversity & worship music preference

Before pressing on, I’d encourage you to stop and read an interesting article from Christianity Today.

I find the article fascinating.  There are certainly many nuances that I would contend with, but overall the larger idea of what rallies diverse people together is mission / cause, rather than pandering to stereotypical stylistic preferences, is appealing and seems right.

What annoys me so much about “worship wars” is that they really are completely antithetical to the entitled pursuit.  It’s not worship that’s being fought over, it’s music style.  “Worship” has gotten such a bad rap to be relegated to music.  Hebrews 12:28-29 would not have included any thought to music when charging the church to live in gratitude of receiving an unshakable kingdom by doing what the author calls “acceptable worship.”

Christ is no more (or less) exalted on high “C” in some great choral anthem than he is in the power chorded ballads of contemporary choruses.  If we really battled over worship, surely the Scriptures would speak to us, convict us, and move us into a unified front.  Instead, we all have biases of what it takes to get “there.”  My problem, and challenge, is that I do not believe we agree on what “there” looks like.

For many people they believe the church gathering is to distinctly appeal to the lost, while others believe the local gathering is for the saints being rallied together for equipping and worship.  I definitely fall in the camp of the latter.  However, the curious thing is, I’ve never had a lost person come to me and say, “Please preach shorter and with less conviction.”  On the other hand, I’ve had plenty of church people, over the years in varied settings, say just that.

See, one of the problems in our churches is that we have church members who rarely, if ever, share their faith and yet they seem to know how lost people think.  And, while not a shocker by any means, this “straw” sinner wants exactly what the member wants in preference and style.  Look, in 19 years of full-time ministry the stated opinions of people on music and preaching style has never been silent.  So, I don’t see it going away.  However, much like we should deal with any “lesser” thing, and yes, style & preference is lesser, we must emphasize the greater thing…the glory of God in the face of Christ.

I believe this is the emphasis in the above mentioned article.  If we long for Christ to be paramount in our own hearts and desire Him to be the treasure of the lost community, then we would relish the gathering of the saints to exalt His great name, regardless of the style.  At the end of the day you have to make choices (what clothes will I wear; what will I eat; etc…).  A local church must consider, in the main, what language seems most appropriate for worship style in the context she lives in, but instead of over-thinking what may or may not appeal to the diversity of people in the community you desire to reach, simply go for what exalts God most distinctly, clearly, simply, and vibrantly.  The real battle here is that we just don’t flat out worship our King enough, otherwise we would not put such a premium on the timbre, chording, instruments, that we worship Him (thru song) with.

People from varied backgrounds are attracted to people who want God; who treasure His Son, Jesus Christ; who display the powerful working of the Holy Spirit.  Style will NEVER get people there.  Only the Word of God rightly taught and applied will get people there.  Until the Word of God dwelling richly in our homes is our mainstay, we will not rally together in such a way that is appealing to the “called out ones” in our community.  As well, the vibrancy of our witness will be strongly diluted because little says how insignificant the gospel is than disinterested worshippers.

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