Who moved my cheese music?!What can I do? I just hate the music at my church!
I know, I know–it’s the age-old conflict over worship music at church. But seriously, we get this question a lot at Peacemaker Ministries, because conflict about worship styles happens all the time. Many pastors have watched their flocks scatter over nothing more than the kind of music in the church service. Some churches try a compromise and offer both traditional and contemporary services. In other situations, the leaders have basically said, “Sorry! Live with this music, or find another church.”
What if you could learn to worship God whether the music is traditional, contemporary, A capella, rock band, pipe organ or something totally different? The key to that attitude is getting on God’s path:
“You will make known to me the path of life;
in Your presence is fullness of joy;
in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” (Psalm 16:11, NASB95)
The Path of a Peacemaker: This verse says that God’s path is full of life.
Prayer is a great way to get on God’s path. When the music starts and you’re annoyed, start praying. When a melody is so complicated that it’s hard to sing, start praying. If a song is so repetitive that you get bored, start praying. You can pray silently in your heart or quietly under your breath. Remember that worship isn’t actually about singing. It’s much bigger than that. It’s about giving honor to God. Singing praises is just one of the ways to show him honor. So when the music isn’t helping you to express or feel God’s worth, connect with God through prayer.
A sample to suggest how you might pray:
God, you are so good to me. I am really thankful for how faithful you are. It’s good to be here with you and I want my attitude to please you. Lord Jesus, I praise you for dying for me. Thank you for your Word, which helps me so much. God, I trust you. I want to listen for your message to us today. Let your Word become front and center in our hearts and in our minds. Thank you for bringing that new family this morning. I pray that they will feel welcome here and learn about you. I praise you that you know everyone who is struggling here today. I pray that they will find hope through the words of the songs and through the sermon. Lord, thank you for showing us your path of life . . .
The Path of a Peacemaker: God’s path leads to his presence.
What does it mean to be in God’s presence? In addition to praying, another way to connect with God is to be quiet and think about the Lord. Close your eyes (to minimize being distracted) and simply be with him. Remember what you know about God and let him speak to your heart and mind.
I remember once when I was in a Chinese church service I didn’t know a word that was being sung, and the music didn’t stir my heart. I simply closed my eyes and began to think about the Lord. It ended up being one of the most powerful worship services I have been in. It was amazing. Why? It was amazing because I spent time in God’s presence.
The Path of a Peacemaker: God’s path leads to pleasures forever.
The key truth that we must absorb is this: It’s not about what the music sounds like. Let me say it again: It is not about the music or the abilities of the people leading. It’s about directing our attention to God at this time each week, “ . . .keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2). When you direct your thoughts to the Lord, your heart will move from the temporary to the eternal, from human pleasures to God’s pleasures, which truly satisfy.
Here is the bottom line: too many Christians focus on what they get out of the worship music at their church. Doing this misses the main point. The purpose of worship is to honor the Lord, to express his worth, to focus on Him and to please him. As we do this wewill encounter God’s presence and rest in his pleasures. Next Sunday, I encourage you – whether you are sitting or standing, singing or listening – to take the time to walk God’s path of life that leads to God’s presence.
Peacemaker Ministries is here to help you during the conflicts of life. Give us a call at 1-800-711-7118 x701 if we can be of any assistance.
P. Brian Noble