If you haven’t read the post immediately before this, “Why Music?,” go read that first. Let me also add that I’m writing some of this TO other worship leaders, but obviously I want others to hear my thoughts.
Does the style of music we use in a church worship service matter? Yes – I DO think it matters. Absolutely, no doubt about it. Don’t misquote my motives though – read my explanation. 🙂
Firstly, I think we need to consider what matters to God since its for Him anyhow. Does our style matter to God? Nope. I don’t think he gives a hoot. I don’t think so. God will hear our hearts (and specifically our attitude of excellence, for those of us with the specific Call to play skillfully (Ps. 33:3)).
So if it doesn’t matter to God, why should it matter to a worship leader? That’s a great question. Let’s consider what does matter. Emotions towards God matter. Devoted lives to Him matter. Our expression of worship to God matters (worship cannot exist without an expression of some sort, otherwise its just music). An assembly worshiping together matters to God (Unity), which is a great reason we use music in the first place. So if those things matter to God, how can our music meet that goal? Wouldn’t the style choices help us meet these goals?
Consider this lyric: “No hay nadie como dios.” For most of you, it will be impossible for this lyric to help you encounter God. But when I translate it into English, “There is no one like our God,” that changes everything. With this lyric you understand the meaning and actually stand a chance at joining me in magnifying God. It works this way because I’m speaking your language.
Can you imagine a church in inner city Los Angeles hee-hawing in a worship set with a banjo, mandolin, jug, and spoons? Can you imagine a church in the back hills of Kentucky connecting to God with an Urban-Jazz Black Gospel style like Yolanda Adams? Can you imagine any church in the Western World doing a worship service using the Asian “Gamelon” style of music; which has absolutely no regard for the 12 tone system (throw your “scales” out the window). Is it possible for people to connect with God with a musical style they’re not used to? OF COURSE IT IS! And the spiritually mature should be able to handle it. But as a worship leader I’m trying to HELP PEOPLE experience God, not make it more difficult for them because “they should be able to handle it.” In a large assembly I have to consider that people are at different spiritual levels; I’d be irresponible if I constantly throw artistic styles that don’t connect with my group. Can you imagine a missionary being so dense as to go to a foreign country and require their church to sing all worship songs in English?
So at this point, I think its pretty obvious that style does matter. It is something to consider. Now comes the messy part.
Musical styles are subjective. People come and go to church every weekend. Only SOME of them have a specific opinion of the carpet, chairs, paint, lighting, or even the sermon. But EVERYONE has a different opinon of the musical style. Which one is the right one? Which opinion is the one the worship leader needs to listen to?
See why its messy? There’s no good answer for this. The worship leader must consider the direction of their local church, the needs and demographic of their congregation, and the voice of the Holy Spirit. I’ve learned that the voice of the Holy Spirit is ALWAYS right and is ALWAYS going to work (isn’t it sad that I had to learn that? lol).
Does our music style matter? Yea, I think it does. It doesn’t matter to God, but our styles can help us accomplish the things that DO matter to God.