Amidst the “Worship Wars” that churches have been going through for over 30 years, let’s be clear that Scripture addresses our question at hand. What kind of music does God like? God likes music with the following components:
- Skill: God does not appreciate poorly written or sloppily performed music (1 Chronicles 25:7; Psalm 33:3).
- Volume: God commands us to shout for joy (Psalm 33:3). What will be the volume level of the mass choir described in Revelation?
- Joy: The Psalmist exhorts us to sing for joy (Psalm 33:1).
- Creativity: The creativity of God is mirrored in the men and women who have ability to create beautiful musical sounds and to use them for praise.
- Participation: Musical praise is not for isolated individuals alone. It is a corporate activity (1 Chronicles 23:5; Colossians 3:16).
- Motivation: This involves the heart of the worshiper. We may have all of the above but if the songs are not offered with love in the heart for Jesus Christ, the exercise is futile.
What kind of music do you think God likes?
After reading 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, it’s pretty clear that Michael Green’s summary of the theology of the Lord’s Supper is super helpful to Christian who wants to participate on Sunday but isn’t sure what to do with that corporate time with God. Using this text and the following outline has helped me to avoid making this memorial meal an empty ritual.
- Look back (to Christ’s death).
- Look in (self-examination).
- Look up (fellowship with God).
- Look around (fellowship with each other).
- Look forward (to Christ’s return).
- Look outward (to proclaim God’s word to others).
Music must be important to God! In the Old Testament, God set aside 38,000 Levites for His service in the Temple. They had various duties (1 Chronicles 23-26).
- David commanded the Levites to appoint their kindred as musicians (15:16-24).
- Musicians preceded the ark of the covenant (15:25-28).
- David stationed singers/musicians around the ark in the tabernacle (16:4).
- The singers, musicians, and people praised the Lord (16:7-36).
- Music is part of regular worship (16:37-43).
- David appointed 4,000 temple musicians (23:5).
God did not create and appoint musicians to worship FOR the people, but to lead the people as THEY worshipped!
We are all creatures of habit. Our tendency is to measure each new experience by a standard that has been established by our comfort level with previous experiences.
Our tendency as human beings is to limit ourselves AND THOSE AROUND US based on our own emotional comfort level. As a result, worship has in many ways been relegated to a tradition, an art form, and an experience. In reality, worship is an EXPRESSION–the unhindered expression of our response to God’s revelation.
Whether that expression is singing, playing an instrument, sculpting, painting, dancing, or signing for the hearing impaired, God delights in every sincere expression of worship.
For many people, attending worship is full of frustration and distraction: “We are running late! Hurry up!” or “The sermon was way too long!” or “What should we do for lunch and the rest of our day?” Worship is an invitation by God, not an obligation. It’s not about meeting “my needs” but about shaping my soul. I would like to make your corporate worship more meaningful by suggesting a few acts of preparation:
- Create margin. It’s hard to focus on worship when you’re running late and you’re tired. We have to get to worship with the right attitude. We should go to bed early enough to get enough sleep so that we can get up early enough to get ready with time to spare. Time margin is necessary to create heart margin.
- Arrive 5-10 minutes early. That will allow you to visit with friends or make new ones perhaps. More importantly it will give you a chance to take a deep breath and remember why you’re there.
- Come with holy expectancy. That phrase comes from Richard Foster and he recommends beginning worship with a simple prayer: “Spirit, speak to me. Jesus, teach me. Father, let me experience your love and power.”
- Commit to applying one thing. Just as worship begins in holy expectancy it should end in holy obedience. So pay attention during the service so that by the time you leave you can answer, “What does God want me to do as a result of this time spent in worship?”
Our corporate worship must not get stale, but be creative. Why?
- Because God is creative. He even continues that. (Isaiah 65:17; Psalm 51:10).
- We are creative. We are made in God’s image.
- God wants us to express our creativity.
- Creative praise captures others’ attention. Ed Young said, “When people hear the same thing over and over in the same way, they stop listening. Failure is doing the same thing the same way and expecting unique results.”
- God is worth it.
The hard part is coming up with creative ideas that aren’t cheesy or trite. We also have to avoid creativity for creativity’s sake, rather than to enhance worship itself. What are some ways we could show more creativity in corporate worship?