It’s intriguing to see how encouragement and ministry happens over the Internet. When I started sharing North Side’s journey of uniting our church concerning worship styles, services, and preferences, I mainly was attempting to share our thought process with the people of North Side. Along the way, I began to receive correspondence from other pastors desiring to unite their churches but were afraid of the fallout.
We are still in awe of how God is doing more than we could possibly imagine during this time of transition in our church (Eph. 3:20). Sunday was our 7th united worship service schedule, and attendance is up. Involvement is up. Excitement is up. Of course, there are people who are not raving fans of the changes, but it is very minimal. God is challenging all of us to strive for a united church. It’s been a great thing.
I was asked last week by a minister in another church: “What do you do with disgruntled worshipers? They are boycotting the music. We have members waiting outside until the music is over to come in. Some cover their ears. Some refuse to sing certain types of songs. Some won’t even stand up and sit there with their arms crossed. It’s offensive to me. What should I do?”
My first word of advice: “Stop being offended because those people’s actions are not against you. They are against someone else.”
Should worship boycotters offend you? Yes. Even more so, they should offend God. When anyone chooses not to unite with their church body over 15 minutes of music a week, that says more about their spiritual condition than it does your musical selection. Don’t let it anger you, let it break your heart. They are neglecting the worship of God due to personal preferences. That shouldn’t offend you, it should burden you.
We live in a church culture that says if someone doesn’t like it, they can go somewhere else. And that is true to an extent. If someone doesn’t like what you are doing, there are churches down the road that do it way better (at least for a season). That doesn’t mean that your attitude needs to push them out the door.
I see the heart of the shepherds in the Bible like Moses who God worked relentlessly so that he would patiently shepherd stubborn people. Maybe pastors shouldn’t write off people who disagree with them, but should continue to worry more about their spiritual conditions. If someone doesn’t like what you are doing, love them anyway. It’s not against you. If they are boycotting worship, there is a deeper and more spiritual concern going on there.
My advice to my friend is not to give up on the Body of Christ — and that includes all members of it. It does break my heart that in churches all across America people boycott worship when they don’t like the style.
My other piece of advice was to stop trying to appease everyone. The solution is not to change the style. The solution is for the Holy Spirit to change hearts. Pray that God’s Kingdom will come and reign here on earth like it does in heaven and that our churches will be full of worshipers who stop making it about themselves and start making it all about God.