In Psalms 92/95 we are exhorted to sing and worship with our voices unto the Lord. I have found in my 21 years of ministry not everyone in church likes to sing the same songs. We have been under the “worship wars” terror for about 30 years. Just when I think that the war is almost over, it flares up again. Part of the reason the worship wars continue is because of the vast amount of generational variation in the church on a given Sunday – if you do not have some measure of conflict; one of two things has happened, you are all one generation [death is eminent] or you are a new church with your own identity. We live in a day and time where the air waves are filled with music and videos to worship by. Our local station plays plethora of contemporary music. People listen to this genre of music all week and have come to expect it to be played on Sunday by the worship choir or band. Hummmm; is this really realistic? I don’t mind listening to the contemporary music during the week – essentially it is for me; my enjoyment. But when I come to the sanctuary to worship God – the focus must shift from me to Thee. This doesn’t always happen. The music has caused many a church split and death. Now granted there are various genre’s of church music from high cathedral to bluegrass cowboy country music. Is one any better or worse than the other? Good question. I know young people who like southern gospel and elderly who like praise and worship – not so convinced that our music wars are all age related. Something I have learned though – no one likes bad music, regardless of the type or style.
So how do we solve this “my music” situation? Probably need to look at the various places we listen to music and the purpose at the time. What I mean is there is music for situation and occasions, what is right for one would be wrong for another. I have a friend whose approach to Sunday worship music – there should be music that everyone can connect with. Wow that makes for a long music portion of the service if we are trying to provide a song for all to connect with! The Audience of One principle does not mean “what’s in it for me, but How can I please and praise God in heaven with my song and singing? We have degenerated worship to music – music is only one aspect of worship; often the “worship pastor” is always viewed as the music person. Wrong, actually the Pastor is the worship pastor. I know there will be those who disagree with me on this – the music and the message must have coherence and unity of message. This is not easily accomplished. Theology and thought must be used in music and message preparation. Singing about bad theology just because we like the song isn’t right. I find in these two Psalms variation in instruments and praise but there is one focus – joyfully singing to the Lord. If we are singing to hear ourselves, we have missed what worship really is about. Time doesn’t allow me to go into deep discussion of why Churches don’t sing much or use hymnals. Singing is suffering in our worship. I find that there is an expectation of a “concert” from the praise team. They are trying to lead us to praise of the Lord. If that is not accomplished, it probably is the fault of both the Praise Team and the Pew!
Singing should have an air of spontaneity within the soul. I listen to my grandchildren sing – sometimes they know the words, other times they are just humming and letting their soul resonant with joy in their hearts. We will be singing in heaven, we will be singing TO the LORD; He is our audience; let’s prepare for the concert to the King here!