On Worship

Would you say that the contemporary worship movement in our churches produces more mature believers or leaves us more entertatined?

Is worship about how God invites us to approach him or is it a human innovation of what we want?

There was a critical post the other day of some beloved contemporary worship leaders or bands, that generated some debate. The debate is not a new one, as those who desire to view worship according to the precedence of Scripture have always suggested. In summary, the charge is that contemporary worship music tends to be more:

  1. self focused rather than God focused
  2. therapeutic rather than theological
  3. too emotive rather than helping one think about God in worship

There is certainly room for expressive emotion in our response to God. But if worship is ultimately about God, then the songs we sing must be theologically sound, God focused and balancing both emotion and thinking as worship must be spiritual and also mental I.e. holistic. The Word puts it this way:

o what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.

1 Cor 14:15

It would seem that Scripture has already given us a rich worship resource. It invites us to make use of hymns, psalms and spiritual songs (Col 3:16). The book of Psalms is also so vital in celebration, prayer, petition, supplication, confession, adoration, thanksgiving, themes central to the work of worship. In fact, Calvin says that the Psalms are “the anatomy of all parts of the soul”. There is room for using instruments yet never in a way to take our focus on the one who has invited us to worrship him and in all songs, always in accord with biblical truth as per the Scriptures,

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

Colossians 3:16

Worship is not just what we do, but how God invites us to approach him – with joy, reverence and awe. It is about him before it is about us. Well, we could ask – isn’t the important thing be that someone is blessed with the music? So long as the end goal is okay, why should we be so concerned about the motive?

Certainly someone may be initially blessed in one way or another. But eventually in order to grow we need more sound songs. Perhaps the reason that our Christianity seems to be moving round the same cycles is because of what we feed on and what we sing?

As an aside, I remember feeling this way during worship services as a teenager, before and after I "became" a Christian. Some of the songs sounded a bit too emotional, like it was this cycle of just "kufungua roho" without moving the roho forward towards meaty truth that can settle the heart

Anyway, to continue with my earlier pont – if songs are always about this emotional high, we fail to grow up in the faith as God would have us. So I guess the question would be, in every song I listen to or we sing, what is the ultimate end goal? This way we have a bigger view to think about much of Contemporary Christian Music. I guess the other angle to it is that much of these songs are written with a performance or entertainment orientation (think big lights, big stage) such that we would save up to go for a Hillsong concert rather than go for a Hymn sing with friends, for example. Might this show that we are more entertainment oriented rather than God oriented?

Much to ponder on.

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