Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Ps 150).
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.” (Ps 95).
And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you (Matt 6:5-6).
When you’re a minister, you hear complaints about just about everything you do in your ministry. People are very vocal about what they do and do not like.
I do not like worship music. Somehow, this has come up a lot recently.
The stuff we sing in church and in Chi Alpha? I dislike it. I could write a whole article on stuff I don’t like about most worship music, but that’s not really productive. So I’ll just leave it at this:
I have many reasons for not liking worship music. But that’s not the point of worship.
I and my personal preferences are not the point of community worship. My personal preferences do not matter. This is the sin Jesus is calling out in Matt 6 above: people setting themselves before God. Their hearts are hardened (Ps 95 above), setting themselves and their desires above God.
As the subject has come up a lot, I’ve discovered that most people don’t seem to particularly like worship music. There are a few people who love it, and they’re not wrong (it’s a personal preference. You can’t be wrong with that; it just is). But by and large, it seems to me most people aren’t particularly fond of worship music.
Now I could say, “Look, I don’t like this music. Very few people actually like it. Do something else.” But I’m never going to do that.
In the community setting, when we all worship together, your personal preferences are not the point. The music, for example, is the lowest common denominator by necessity: it has to be something that can be sung by everyone there, so it has to be simple and not distracting.
The music is there to facilitate worship for the most people in the community. If it doesn’t help you, ignore it.
That’s what I’ve learned over the past couple decades: worshiping God past the worship music. I personally find the music very distracting. I grew up in music: part of my mind is always thinking about the musical choices. I am very picky about lyrics: part of my mind is always critiquing the lyrics. I have to set these distractions aside.
Because the point of worship is God. God is the focus of your worship.
And God is also the source of your worship (Ps 22:25)! When you worship, you remember the things God has done, and you honor Him for them. You honor God for who He is and for what He’s done and for what He will do. He is the source and the focus of your worship.
So when you worship with your community, embrace the fact that you are worshiping God in community! It’s not about your preferences. If the setting—the place, the music, the words, whatever it may be—helps you, go with it. If it distracts you, ignore it.
When you come together, don’t be consumed by the things you like and don’t like. Keep your eyes on God. Praise Him because He is worthy!