We all know (or you’re at least learning right now) that worship is not “music.” There’s a lot more to it. Worship is your entire life as a sacrifice to God. This is ultimate worship (Romans 12:1-2). Worship is doing the right thing when nobody is looking. Worship is connecting with God. Worship is carrying out God’s will on the earth.
If that’s the case, then why do we use music (mostly) in church “worship” services? I think that’s a good question.
Let me answer with another question: what else would we do?
Can you imagine a large group of people getting together in one assembly, and having a “non-music” worship service? What would it look like? Maybe hundreds of people raking a lawn — one leaf per person! Or we can all go down to the soup kitchen and serve food to the needy — the line to serve the food would be longer than the line to receive. Or maybe we can all assemble together and have a worship service by choosing NOT to look at bad stuff on the internet simultaneously. Now all these things are good – and all these things are worship. But we can’t do things things corporately very easily – you may have even laughed at my sarcastic examples.
What could the church do to worship God corporately in an assembly?
Music. THAT’S something we can do all together to worship.
Church history supports this, even back into the Jewish roots. There was a period of Church Music where all worship music was written for professional singers, and the choir sang with lots of polyphony (every part singing a totally different line, often with different lyrics). It was beautiful, but totally NOT intended for everyone to join in singing, it was meant for the general people to worship in their heart while listening. Bach wrote lots of that busy junk, and of music he said something like, “Music has no other purpose than to glorify God and for the enlightenment of the human spirit.” I don’t want to bother looking for exact references (and you probably don’t care), but there was one dude who started changing that trend and began writing music so people could sing along together. It was “congregational.” (There have always been congregational songs in Church history – I’m referring to the MAIN movement of music history.
This isn’t exclusive to the church either. In fact, MUSIC as a means of DOING SOMETHING TOGETHER transcends religion and culture. Take Indians for example – we have all heard of a rain dance, where they danced/prayed for rain. But the Indians also had songs and dance for no purpose except to build community – to be doing something TOGETHER.
Music needs to bring the church together to help the Body experience God together. Let’s worship God with our entire lives, including our thoughts and actions. Let’s worship God together in smaller groups with community building and accountability. Let’s worship God together in a large assembly with music.