A couple of weeks ago my friend Laura Mick posted a “Ponder Anew” blog by Jonathan Aigner criticizing modern church worship (sometimes called faith) music and bands. I found it, as I commented then, a bit snarky. But I ignored my feelings and moved on. Or so I thought. It’s been eating at me ever since. I should have known better. I should’ve written about it and gotten it out of my system. So here goes:
You’re entitled to your opinion about church worship music. I’m entitled to disagree. I took umbrage to your comments on behalf of my church’s praise band. They are not a cover band performing commercial worship songs for the listening pleasure of our congregation. Their music is their ministry. We join them in worship every Sunday. They stand on sacred ground and sing praises to our heavenly Father. We join them with enthusiasm, clapping, and an occasional “wahoo!”
Yes, it’s emotional and Jesusy. Should our worship and praise of our Holy Father not be emotional? I’m reminded of The Bookshop Around the Corner’s Kathleen Kelly in “You’ve Got Mail” when she tells Big Box Bookstore’s Joe Fox: “Whatever else anything is, it ought to be personal.” Worship should be personal. This modern, non-traditional form of worship has allowed me to form a closer relationship with my Father. Much closer than I experienced during traditional services with traditional hymns as a child.
It works for me. That’s the critical issue. It works for me. It’s not working for you, Jonathan. I understand that. But don’t rain on my parade or the parade of all those other Christians who find their way to a church on Sunday morning, rise to their feet to the sound of the electric guitars, drums, trumpet, and piano, and sing their hearts out.
You sound an awful lot like David’s wife Michal in 2 Samuel 6:14-22:
“David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul, watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.”
Skip to verse 20: “When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, ‘How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!’”
“David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me to rule over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.’”
We sing, we dance, we leap for joy, because that is how we choose to worship. I’m a terrible singer. I love the old hymns. That doesn’t keep me from opening my mouth and praising the Lord by singing songs written by faithful Christian singers/songwriters like Rich Mullins, the father of faith music, or Chris Tomlin or Todd Agnew, or David Crowder or Aaron Shust or Michael Smith.
I used to chuckle condescendingly when I came across the TV broadcasts of church services with people standing, swaying, their hands in the air, tears trickling down their faces. It seemed corny. Hokey. Not anymore. That’s me on Sunday morning. That’s the gift my church has given me. The ability to raise my hands to my Father through song and be brought to tears by the sheer joy of knowing His grace covers me, broken down, messed up, me. Our worship leader once described it as a child raising her hand to her daddy. It’s personal.
Lately it seems as if there are a slew of books and blogs telling us how we ought to do these things. I suppose it should come as no surprise that worship has followed in the way of health and exercise or health and diet or love and marriage. Do this and you’ll be healthy. Do this and you’ll lose weight. Do this and you and your husband will stop fighting.
Pray this way and you’ll have an authentic prayer relationship with God. Seriously? Isn’t it true that anytime you speak to God from your heart, it’s authentic? You don’t need a self-help book for prayer. As Nike says. Just do it.
Isn’t it true that any time you stand and sing from the heart—whether you use a hymnal or peek at a screen on the wall—you’re worshipping from the heart?
As long as the music and the message are scripturally sound, I accept different styles of worship. Build those people up. Build those faith bands up. Don’t tear them down. There’s enough non-Christians doing that. We don’t need Christians to critique each other in a ponderous one-up-man-ship on the best way to worship. The important thing is that people are worshiping and developing a closer walk with Christ. Find the worship service that works for you. Go. Worship. That’s what’s important.
Feel free to chime in about your favorite style of worship in the comments below. What’s your favorite worship song? Do you prefer hymns? Which ones?
Here’s a link to one of my favorites. Creed by Rich Mullins. It’s an old video. He passed away several years ago.
Ponder Anew blog by Jonathan Aigner