Third conviction concerning worship by the iconic Rick Warren:
3. There is no correct style of worship.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12: “There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.“ God gives us only three requirements for worship. It must be authentic and accurate (in spirit and truth, as Jesus tells us in John 4). Paul also tells us in 1 Corinthians 14 that it should be done in an orderly fashion. Beyond that, God gives us freedom.
Debates over worship styles are almost always sociological or personality clashes, couched in theological terms. Everybody thinks that their worship style is the most biblical. But there is no one biblical style. There are no musical notes in the Bible. We don’t even have the instruments that they had. The truth is God loves all kinds of worship styles – as long as we worship him in spirit, in truth, and in an orderly fashion.
Wow. This one is a huge one. I have many friends who lead worship in different churches, so what I am about to say happens across the board. I am not going to say “a buddy of mine leads worship at a church where the people are idiots” and I am actually disguising me slamming our congregation. I love North Siders. Some of what I say will be stuff we deal with but most of it is a common dilemma.
Whenever we can only worship to one style, we are worshiping our worship and no longer worshiping our God.
Worship leaders know about personal preferences more than any other staff member in a church I would have to guess. Everyone has their personal preference, and many people like to make their preferences known. The hard thing for a worship pastor is you normally only hear what people dislike, and the people whom God changed through that worship ministry normally remain silent.
Personally, I have been walking off a stage elated at what God just did in our midst to encounter someone complaining about five minutes in a service. It might have been a song they didn’t like. Or maybe some instrument was too loud. Whatever the case, that five minutes seems like eternity and now the rest of the time which they may have loved goes unnoticed.
As our church grows, it is impossible to meet everyone’s preferences. On the same Sunday, I have had someone say “the music was too loud,” followed by, “man, I couldn’t hear or feel the music today.” When I have taught a new song, I have been encouraged by one and discouraged by another within two minutes of each other. I don’t want this to sound like a pity party. I don’t want you to go out and buy a t-shirt that says “I love my worship pastor,” but I would like to challenge your thinking on worship.
There is no correct style of worship. But there is a correct heart of worship. I don’t think God can tell the different between contemporary or traditional worship in heaven. I believe that he chooses to not notice the differences. If praise in any language is heard the same, then how could a style affect him?
I don’t think he is in heaven on a typical Sunday saying, “Gabe, that drummer over at New Point Community Church is way too loud.” I don’t think he is saying, “Wow, that first soprano really nailed that solo part in the choir piece.” I don’t think he is too concerned about the aesthetics or the sound.
I think he hears something different. I think he sits in heaven, and tells the angels, who are constantly worshiping him way better than what we can, and says, “Hold up. Be quiet for a moment. Do you hear that? Sherry is worshiping.”
“Is she the blond on the praise team that majored in voice?”
“No, she’s probably the one that raises her hands when she sings.”
“She’s got to be the tambourine player.”
God pauses, and says, “Nope. She is the one oblivious to style and pitch right now. She is near the back because she came in late, and her life is falling apart right now. But she sincerely believes the words she is singing right now.
“Now, that’s my style of worship.”