Worship Preferences: When Musical Taste Is a Precondition for Worship

Worship Preferences: When Musical Taste Is A Precondition for Worship

The time of musical worship can be a nightmare to crack! With so many worship preferences, tastes and values in the room it’s amazing that we ever get through it without broken teeth, flying drumsticks or choral tantrums.

Part of the issue is we’re just so darn picky!

I, for instance, am really cynical about ’90s-’00s contemporary worship music. I find it simplistic, boring, messy, boring, poorly written, boring, rubbish to play, boring and theologically…quirky. Is this a fair assessment of all worship music from that era? Probably not. Does it summarize all of that era’s worship? Definitely not! Does it tell me something about my heart? Very yes!

And here’s our problem. The straight line we draw from ‘does this please me’ to ‘does it please God’ is logically absurd!

Our worship should reach in three directions:

  • Upward. We’re to love and honor God.
  • Outward. We’re to serve and uplift each other.
  • Inward. We’re to encourage our silly hearts and tired minds to respond.

Then problem is we tend to add a fourth step, which is, ‘we’re to like the music.’ This totally reverses the process, which ends up looking a little like this:

  • Double Inward: Am I properly entertained by, and comfortable with, the music provided?
  • Inward: Do I feel like I can now respond to God?
  • Outward: Do I feel like I can encourage others to get stuck in?
  • Upward: Do I feel like God likes what I’m doing?

The problem here is that every stage is now governed by ‘do I feel…?’ which makes worship self-serving rather than God-serving. This is a huge problem when you consider that worship in the Bible always included sacrifice and making ourselves lower.

It’s not entirely this straight forward, but you can see the problem. If our ability to worship is governed by our acceptance of the music provided, then everything stops working.

Put another way: If worship must first reach our conditions, then we won’t be worshipping when they do.

If the music fits us so perfectly that we ‘switch on’ our worship mode, then it’s likely that it isn’t worship that we’re doing. It’s not that you can’t worship to your music preference (of course you can), the problem is making your worship and adoration of God conditional on your music preference. Our love for God shouldn’t be conditional upon anything but His love for us.

How many times have you heard (or thought!) something like:

  • I can’t worship to an organ.
  • The music is too loud to worship.
  • I can’t focus on God because the singer was off-key.
  • God can’t get through to me though a guitar solo.

etc.

For me—I always lose it if a drummer goes out of time!

Now some of this is simple human distraction—worked on with time and patience. However, these things can be heart issues. It’s a heart issue when we won’t try to worship if our preferences aren’t met.

This article originally appeared here.

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Tim Gough
Currently living with my Californian wife in the beautiful surrounds of North Wales, I can often be found in sea front coffeeshops with my faithful MacBook, hammering away at one of my many ongoing projects.