Years ago, I was introduced to the term “Worship Wars.” It’s not a new concept, it has basically been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years and it still continues today. I was recently reading through posts and comments on a worship-oriented website that I frequent a few times per week, and I could sense the war rearing its ugly head throughout.
Granted, we NEED to discuss and wrestle with topics in a polite and humble way, but when it comes down to it, when you’ve been in or around ministry in music for worship for a while, you’ll see that the whole concept of worship wars is just unnecessary. It doesn’t benefit the Kingdom and it does not promote unity. It divides and drives us apart…which is why it’s called a war.
That being said, there is one music preference, one “style” that will win any and every worship war. There is one approach that will level the playing field and will guarantee that your role as a minister through music is successful in Kingdom terms.
This is the style: a HEART AFTER GOD.
This is the preference: OTHERS.
If you follow hard after God, with a heart always turned to Him, and you do your best in all things to prefer others above yourself, you cannot go wrong.
Oh, sure, there will be some people you just cannot please. And there will definitely be times when you, yourself, are not pleased with a particular musical selection. But you don’t lead worship for you. You don’t lead worship to cater to whims and desires. You lead worship to serve others, which ultimately brings honor and glory to God.
There are two primary functions of leading worship (spiritually):
1) Loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
This means that your heart is turned towards Him. It means that you are returning the blessings He’s given you. It means that you are responding to Him for WHO HE IS and for what He has done, is doing, and will do in your life. It means that you are singing to Him in response to the newness of His mercies each day, singing a new song of praise that bubbles up out of your heart. It means that you are worshiping with a heart that boasts in Him!
While at the same time…
2) Loving your neighbor as you love yourself (serving others).
This means that you are using your gifts to not only bless the heart of God, but to bless the hearts of others. It means that you are singing songs that your congregation loves to sing. It means that you are teaching them new songs that help them turn their hearts toward a Father who adores them. It means you are creating space where people can express their worship freely and without judgement. It means that you are creating moments where spiritual formation happens, where sound Biblical Theology is taught.
Worship is not about us. It’s not about styles of music. It’s not about the latest Top 40 radio hits, or the hundred year old classics. It’s not about volume of music. It’s not about instrumentation or arrangement of the tunes. It’s not even about current vernacular or antiquated jargon.
Worship is call and response. God calls, we respond. God is ALWAYS calling. We have the opportunity to always be responding, because worship is so much more than music, we can respond with our very lives.
So, the preference that will win all worship wars? First, eliminate the idea that your way is the best way. Choose to prefer God and others above yourself. If you choose a preference that includes all styles and no styles at the same time, you’re already winning.
God loves a cheerful giver, and although that principle is primarily about finances, we know that the principle of giving generously, is not limited to only coin. Give generously in your leading of worship. Allow God to use what God has blessed you with to bless others.