By Jesse Jost
We just visited a church while on family vacation, and as I walked into the darkened auditorium, I felt tears welling up in a rush of strong emotion. Was this the presence of the Holy Spirit or a physical reaction to the pulsating music? The gathering was a campus church broadcasting a service in which a visiting worship band led music.
I grew up with the belief that drums and back beats were sensual or even demonic. While I now believe all musical styles can be redeemed and proclaim the glory of Christ, my staid and proper past sometimes colors my experience of worship music.
At first I settled in at the service, marvelling at the wonder of God, letting the music focus my mind on His glory. But soon, I found myself critiquing a style I am not used to. Thoughts cloaked in an air of righteousness intruded: Those pants are too tight. That dancing borders on sensual. Are they really worshipping God or simply performing? Do they have to jump around so much?
I stopped, forced to consider: Are these thoughts from God or some other place? What effect is my “discernment” having on me? Chastened, I closed my eyes and focused on God again.
My experience stirred up plenty of age-old questions. How should worship be done? What is true worship? Does God like the music loud or quiet? These questions split church after church, and bring division and tension into relationships as people contend for the righteousness of their view.
“We need to sing more hymns; these modern worship songs are bland, shallow and repetitive.” “These acapella hymns sound terrible and are putting our young people to sleep.” “We need excellence in our music, and a sound system that truly honours God.” “How can I be expected to worship when that song leader is dressed like THAT?!” Continue reading…