Make Your Worship More Like Motown

Some things are timeless. Like Motown. Motown is music that will never, ever go out of fashion. The same is true in worship as well, though, in worship it has less to do with musical styling and more to do with content—I know, “worship artists” everywhere are cringing.

For instance:

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    
who was and is and is to come!”

This proclamation is timeless and true, relevant through the ages. The four living creatures who surround the very throne of God never stop saying it, they never take a break, they don’t even get tired. For them, the words never lose meaning, which is astonishing when you consider that typically when a person repeats a word over and over, it doesn’t take long for the word or phrase to be diluted of all its potency. The word becomes dull and lifeless, like mowing the grass or washing the dishes. Dead.

But the grandeur of God, the depth of his glory, the wonder that surrounds him, causes a response from those nearest to him, a response that is almost immediate, like a reflex. The words never lose their meaning. They remain supremely relevant based upon who he is:

“Holy, holy, holy …”

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all holy, completely “other,” beyond description.

“… Who was and is and is to come.”

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the trinity, all filling the annuls of history, all perfectly present, all reigning over the future.

Worship writers, take note. Timeless worship is centered on the trinity, the mystery of God in three persons. Explore writing songs that focus on God the father, creator and sustainer of life, Jesus the son, brother, redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, a present comfort. Meditate upon the God who sits upon the throne. Catch a glimpse of his beauty. Match it with a melody.

Timeless worship is worship that declares the presence and victory of god in all ages and all times—past, present and future. He is the Lord of history! His goodness and his care are reasons to sing! One only has to spend a moment or two in quiet reflection in order to see the hand of God in history—not just world history, but personal history, your life and my life!

He is the God of the present. He is near. He is close. His reign isn’t some invisible, etherial benign nothingness “out there.” It’s here! It’s now! In fact, right now is the only moment you or I can actually love him! Write songs that bring God into the moment, because he’s already here!

He is the Lord of the future. There is nothing that can surprise him. There is no possibility, or happening, or tragedy, or decision he cannot and will not work to absolute victory. God shouts victory into the future! We can have hope, right here, right now, today, because God is the God of the future! Write songs about victory. Write songs that impart hope because victory and hope are never going to go out of style.

Writers, let’s press for something timeless in our worship, something that sits above the ebb and flow of fashion, something on the level of Motown, something that forever alters our baseline, something that infects our consciousness like a good back-beat and a tambourine—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—Lord of history, Lord of the present, Lord of tomorrow.  

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adamrussell1@mac.com'
Adam Russell is a worship leader turned pastor. He also leads a worship band known simply as "The Embers." He and his wife, Heather, along with their three children, live and minister in central Kentucky.