Posted by: Terry | October 11, 2014

To just be allowed to worship

Have we, have I, got it wrong about how we worship God? For years I have found myself in the gap between those who would favor “traditional worship” and those who promote “contemporary worship.” Admittedly and uncomfortably I have been critical of the traditionalists for not being more tolerant of the contemporary music and worship; have I been too harsh?

For the past 18 months I have read in The Psalms almost every day. One message that cannot be dismissed is that worship is a response and never described as an attraction. Worship of God is the exclusive expression of those who know and embrace something of the truth of God.

Our worship will and should reflect the person who is worshiping. Worship music, liturgy, preaching vary over time and culture. What remains constant is that it is a response from our relationship with God; it must always promote reverence for God and express thanksgiving for his grace and mercy. The role of pastor and worship leader is to provide an environment conducive for the congregation they lead to express their devotion and praise to God, the whole congregation.

It is inevitable that the music today, at the end of 2014, will be different from the music of 1914. The question we must face is how and why does it change? The Church Growth Movement of a few years back promoted listening to the radio stations that the congregation listened to in their cars and using that as the template for the style of music used on Sunday morning. The motivation? Make church more attractive to the un-churched. This thinking has permeated much of the church yet today.

We frequently conduct worship services that are not reflective of all of the people in our congregation, but that are the result of perceived expectations regarding those who are not in the church at all, nor are they in any kind of relationship with God and his Son. And sadly we have people in our pews that struggle to express their praise to God, which is wrong.

One the other side, those who would rigidly resist any changes are just as much at fault. Just as parents had to learn how to use text messages a few years ago to connect with their kids, so older believers need to adjust to changes in the service style. This is not a debate of music styles, it is about expressing praise to God based on truth in ways that all can participate in. Matt Redman, contemporary for sure, got it right, “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, it’s all about you.” Believers in their 90’s, their 40’s, their 20’s all need to express worship.

I have friends who have spent a lifetime worshiping and trusting God. They want more than anything to be able to do that at their church. Many have valiantly worked to embrace the services they attend only to feel frustrated. I fear I have been too critical of them, we are all part of a body, and if we neglect any part of that to the exclusion of another we fail as leaders. Our first responsibility is to shepherd our flock, all of the flock. If I have failed in my small piece of that, may grace be extended.



  1. Terry, This is very true. How we worship God is not as important as the fact that we are worshiping God. I like the old hymns and the new worship songs. They all show our true love for God.

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