To focus your attention on secondary issues is certainly a dangerous error, however it is equally dangerous to label primary issues as secondary. Labelling these items as such tends to lower our view of them to a level where we begin to adapt and change what was never intended to be changed.
Worship for all intents and purposes has been labelled a secondary issue. And henceforth has been edited and adjusted to fit a variety of man-made ideas. It is for this reason that it has been grouped with things Scripture never said it should.
It’s common sense: to associate two things that were never meant to be associated is an ingredient for disaster. However, this is doubly true for things in Scripture.
Linking worship and evangelism is a grievous error that has crept into both “fundamentalist” camps as well as the quote-on-quote “contemporary” churches.
In traditional churches, the battle is over the desire to worship and honor past traditions and standards. They are essentially seeking to minister to themselves and other people from their generation or way of thinking.
In more “seeker-sensitive” church settings, they argue that worship styles should be adapted in order to draw larger crowds into the church. Typically these “worship times” are cultivated for the purpose of enticing lost people.
Where do both sides of this war fail?
They are both anthropocentric and not theocentric.
We must remember that the goal of worship is not one one of evangelism.
God may in fact use the doctrine of a particular song to draw someone to Himself. However, this somewhat rare possibility should never be the the motivating factor or reason when it comes to having a time of worship at your church.
Music’s rightful place in a service is one that is solely concerned with the honor and adoration deserved by God.
If “Worship Wars” are to be had, they should be over erroneous doctrine in particular songs, rather than over the instruments or styles used to convey said message.
Music as an art-form will always be evolving. Like anything in a culture, it will change and develop over time. A church, therefore, will in a sense be “relevant” if their music happens to reflect a current popular style.
Is this wrong? No.
Just as you would receive strange looks if you wore an outfit from the 1960’s, you would probably get a similar reaction from a visitor to your church, if your music was so out of date. Things change. It is the natural process. Being “relevant” is simply a side-effect of growing in a certain cultural environment.
So when does relevancy become a problem for the church?
When a church is driven by it. When the sole desire of the church is to use worship as an attraction to draw a crowd, rather than to bring honor and worship to Jesus Christ.
On the same token, a church that is nearly obsessed with staying “irrelevant” for the sake of honoring tradition and preferences from a past generation, have also allowed themselves to idolize a counterfeit form of worship.
Both churches need to work to examine the motivation behind their worship practices, and seek to restore them to the original purpose of worship itself: the glory of God.
Eric is a blogger, videographer, designer, and full-time missionary with Rooftop Missions. While in the US, he works to raise support to help fund pastors and orphanages in closed countries. When he is traveling internationally, he provides leadership training for national pastors, as well as documenting the trips through photography and video. To partner with Eric financially, click here.
3 thoughts on “Rethinking Worship Wars”
Define worship. You seem to be using the terms worship and music interchangeably.
I really don’t think the Bible teaches that music in a church service can’t be evangelistic in nature. There is certainly room for music in a church service that admonishes, edifies, comforts, and encourages christians. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to only sing songs in church that focus only on adoration of God.
Ah! I literally talked to my fiancée about this while I was writing the article, but the clarification of the distinction derailed the thrust of the article a bit too much. I was hoping that the general thought would come across – Music is a secondary issue, Worship is a primary issue. (i.e. “If “Worship Wars” are to be had, they should be over erroneous doctrine in particular songs, rather than over the instruments or styles used to convey said message.” par. 12)
Thank you for responding to the impression you got from the article. It shows that I may need to address distinctions between practices and doctrines in a future post. Thanks for reading!
One thing I do sense in your writing is some bitterness towards traditional independent fundamental baptist churches. Those churches that do think it is very important to stay with the traditional music you seem to have a problem with. The wars that you mention are not necessary. If someone wants different music than what is in their current church rhey need to find a new church. Modernistic churches are not very hard to find. They are everywhere.
The reason I brought up the idea about the difference in music and worship is that so many folks do seem to think the two terms are synonymous. They aren’t. Worship is a whole lot more than just music. Yet, many churches call their minister of music their worship minister or they have a worship team that is chiefly involved in music.