For my whole life I’ve listened to conversations (sometimes arguments) about worship. When I was a kid, one particular Christmas musical program we did used drums and that about split the church. Or so it seemed. At the very least, it made some people really cranky.
I’ve seen this issue split churches. I’ve also seen it turn otherwise relatively sane human beings into crazy people at times. I sat in a church business meeting where someone was making their point about the leadership’s bias toward one style of worship over another by noting the number of minutes in each worship service which were given to those different styles. (Great use of the digital watch’s stop watch feature, wouldn’t you say?)
I’m afraid I’ve gotten caught up in some of what I think now are the silly arguments…er…discussions around this topic. In the heat of the moment, I’ve made some pretty ridiculous statements. I own the fact that I used to think more about worship style as it would potentially impact visitors (calling them “seekers” did make it sound more spiritual in the midst of the discussion). Now I wonder how much of that was my Boomer need to appear “cool” or to be accepted.
Worship is an intimate expression of adoration and submission and celebration from the Bride (the Church) to the Bridegroom (Christ) and so what guests think or feel about it shouldn’t ultimately matter. In fact, it is likely that they won’t understand it all. And while that doesn’t mean we should use that as an excuse for making our worship inaccessible to those who truly are seeking God and beginning a relationship with him through his church, it does change the way I think.
Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about what we should pay attention to when “evaluating” worship and realized that the primary question to ask is whether God accepts it as worship and is himself pleased. He has given us some clear direction on that matter in His Word.
Then I consider whether the worship is a thoughtful and meaningful expression by the worshipper (Scripture tells us to worship in Spirit and in Truth, with a clear mind and an engaged heart.) What does that look like (And doesn’t it all look different?)
And then those things are somewhat complicated by the reality that corporate worship is different than private worship. Somehow when a group comes together to worship, there is value in harmonizing our voices — yes, literally, but even more so figuratively.