Friday, August 19, 2022
Home Leaders Community The Worship Wars Are Hurting the Church

The Worship Wars Are Hurting the Church

It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for worship leaders.

Having to walk the line between creating a high-quality worship set and turning worship into a performance can’t be an easy task. It can be a polarizing job.

Some churches wage war over worship. Everybody has a different style they prefer. Some people like full band. Some people like acoustic sets. Some want it deafening. Others can’t stand it if the volume is too high. There is no shortage of opinions on how worship should be done. I’ve known people who left a church because the worship style changed. When the musical style used wasn’t what they wanted, they left to find a church with the style that was.

The Worship Wars

Within these worship wars, there are many battles to be fought: Hymns. Choirs. Bands. Volume. Style. Quality. Presentation. Do we incorporate artistic elements like spoken word, dramatic readings of Scripture? Or just sing the songs?

Then you have the lyrics themselves. Are they theologically accurate? Are they about the right thing? Some older songs have a great message, but can be painfully boring and out of date. Some newer songs sound cool, but often lack the depth of the hymns so many grew up hearing.

Worship is not a concert. It’s not karaoke. Worship is not about us. It’s about God.

How do we decide which style is right or best? Is it popular opinion? Does the pastor get to decide? How do we resolve this worship war?

It’s Not About Us

The first thing we should consider is that a large portion of this conflict is based on our personal preferences. When you walk away thinking, “Man, that worship was great,” or “That was terrible,” take a moment to ask yourself why.

What qualifications or standards are you using to measure the quality of worship? Typically the answer will be how we felt about it. We often assess the quality of worship based on how well it resonated with us. It’s about our emotional connection. A “good” worship service is one that we liked. A “bad” worship service is one that didn’t engage or fit with our style. In many cases, we assess the quality of worship by what it meant to us.

In so doing, we miss the point of worship entirely.

What Worship Isn’t

The amount of time we spend focusing on worship music styles is a strong indicator that many have little understanding of the heart of worship. If we aren’t careful, personal preferences overshadow purpose. If we get so focused on how we worship, it’s easy to forget why we worship or even, at times, who we are worshipping.

Worship is not a concert. It’s not karaoke. Worship is not about us. It’s about God.

The best way to put an end to the worship war is to better understand what worship is all about: We are all worshippers. We were made to worship. Our life is an act of worship.

Redefining Worship

In the New Testament, there are two primary words used for worship. The first word means “to bow down and show reverence to.” Picture walking into the throne room of the King: You kneel down before Him, bowing in His presence. It’s all about recognizing and submitting to the greater authority.

There is another word for worship used in the New Testament. We get our word “liturgy” from this word. It is most commonly used to describe the work done by priests in the temple. It means “spiritual service.” As Romans 12:1 says:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

In response to the grace of God, Paul says we should offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God. This is our spiritual worship. The word he uses here, however, is not the word for entering into the presence of the King. It’s the word for spiritual service.

The New Testament model for worship is not just about singing praises. It is living a life of service to God. It’s about far more than music. It’s about living in service to God as you are helping your neighbor bring in the groceries, providing for the elderly, taking care of those who cannot take care of themselves, helping the poor and needy—these are all examples of biblical worship.

Lifestyles of Worship

While we shouldn’t neglect our praises to God in song, we should realize that worship is much deeper than just singing. When you serve God, you are worshipping God.

Worship isn’t about how. It’s about Who.

The word spiritual in Romans 12 is the word logia, which is where we get our word “logic.” It’s typically translated reasonable/logical. Another way to read this text would be:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

More than song, your life is worship. True worship is when we learn to live, love, and look like Jesus by following Him and serving in His Kingdom.

We are not the stars of our lives. We are the audience in the theater of God. We respond to what He has done. The only reasonable/logical response to seeing God’s mercy, to experiencing His grace, is to give everything we have and everything we are as an offering to God. The devoting of our life to God is our act of worship.

So what if the style of music isn’t our cup of tea? So what if the band plays louder than we think they should? Worship isn’t about how. It’s about Who.

When we truly understand Who we are praising – with our songs and our actions – then it takes the focus of worship off of us, our preferences and our opinions. Churches don’t have to be split up by styles of music, kinds of songs or types of bands: Instead, we can be united by Who we are worshipping, not how we are doing it.

What was the worst worship experience you have had? The best? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Tyler Edwards
Tyler Edwardshttp://tyler-edwards.org/
Tyler Edwards is the author of Zombie Church: Breathing Life Back into the Body of Christ and the Discipleship Pastor at Carolina Forest Community Church in Myrtle Beach.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I attend a Messianic congregation, where they are very much locked into ONLY MESSIANIC songs, as they feel the “church” is pagan….. While I respect the leadership because of the call to honor leadership, it is grieving to see the division between Jew and Gentile.

  2. Life is all about relationships. I believe worship is included. Worship is not separate from His total picture and purpose for the Church in the endtimes.
    The Bride will adore the Groom, and He will adore His Bride. It is a lifestyle centered around the vital reality of what He wants and seeks, which is a people who worship in the mystery of spirit and the reality of His truth.

  3. Today, worship and music are never disconnected. You can’t have one without the other. The music gets louder because younger are getting involved. The lyrics are emotion driven, we worship how we feel on Jesus more than what we know of Him. When a song is done, quiet. Why? Simply, the congregation doesn’t need to sing or easily getting drowned out.
    We need to get back to fully understand what worship really is, not what we assume it is.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Eminem – Stronger Than I Was

We woke reasonably late following the feast and free flowing wine the night before. After gathering ourselves and our packs, we...

Dj Dark – Chill Vibes

We woke reasonably late following the feast and free flowing wine the night before. After gathering ourselves and our packs, we...

Leona Lewis – Bleeding Love (Dj Dark & Adrian Funk Remix)

We woke reasonably late following the feast and free flowing wine the night before. After gathering ourselves and our packs, we...

Silicon Valley Guru Affected by the Fulminant Slashed Investments

We woke reasonably late following the feast and free flowing wine the night before. After gathering ourselves and our packs, we...

Recent Comments

Ngallendou Dièye on Navigating the Wave of Need
subash on 3 Kinds of Leaders
Ngallendou Dièye on 3 Kinds of Leaders
Eric Richardson on 3 Kinds of Leaders
Malcolm Webber on 3 Kinds of Leaders
Ngallendou Dièye on Our Evangelical Cover-Up?
Mark Larson on Is Competition Wrong?
betty-wiseheartedwomen.blogspo on Is Evangelical Worship Headed for a Huge Crash?
Ngallendou Dièye on 3 Fears that Paralyze Potential
Mwesigye Batatwenda Peterson on Pain
Mwesigye Batatwenda Peterson on 5 Reasons We Struggle to Rest
Michelle Chiappelli Zvyagin on Is Evangelical Worship Headed for a Huge Crash?
Ngallendou Dièye on Why Jesus Let People Walk Away
Jim Sutherland on How to Help Someone Not Change
Ngallendou Dièye on How to Help Someone Not Change
Ngallendou Dièye on Alone in a Crowd
Nancy Watta on Leaders Act!
Dr George Varghese on The Weapon of a Clear Conscience
Ngallendou Dièye on 10 Ways To Lose Great Staff
Ngallendou Dièye on Christian Celebrity Culture
Ngallendou Dièye on What NOT to Say to Someone in Pain
Joel Loewen on How to be Patient
Ngallendou Dièye on A Bit of Advice on Giving Advice
Malcolm Webber on 7 Key Paradigm Shifts
Malcolm Webber on 7 Key Paradigm Shifts
Ngallendou Dièye on 7 Key Paradigm Shifts
Ngallendou Dièye on Leaders Act!
Elisha kakwerere on 10 Reasons Leaders Stop Growing
Ngallendou on The Idolatry of Missions
Kyla Alexander on The Idolatry of Missions
Edgard Abraham Alvarez Muñoz on Little Church, Big Mission
James Ruark on A Church Led By Scholars
Ngallendou on A Church Led By Scholars
Bill Blatz on A Church Led By Scholars
Bill Frisbie on Who Stole My Towel?
niklaseklov on Who Stole My Towel?
Malcolm Webber on We Need to Learn Empathy!
Hansraj Jain on Honoring Your Predecessor