I've received some interesting email on the worship music series. It has led to some good discussion.
Pastor Greg Smith writes:
Given that the Bible does not proscribe any particular
musical style (content yes, instrumentation no); how does contemporary style
music fit into the task of worship; if at all in what you've said. Knowing, as
well, that artists will always use contemporary forms to communicate timeless
messages… and in that experimentation some will be retained and other parts
lost. (I'm not sure there is a right answer… just some guiding thoughts…)
I agree that the Bible doesn't proscribe any particular musical style. However, different musical styles produce different effects in their hearers. I think that we Christians get into a lot of unneccesary disputes because we ask the wrong questions. The question isn't so much, "What musical styles are acceptable in worship?" but "What do we need to be doing in this part of the service, and what musical form/style will assist us to do it?"
If we think about it, just one musical style can't carry a worship service. What is it we need to do through the service?
Prepare a reverent, awe-filled heart (something contemplative, full of
longing & aspiriation)
Approach the Throne of Grace (something joyful, triumphant, full of anticipation)
Confess sin (something sorrowful)
Give thanks for forgiveness (again, something joyful)
Consider God's Word to us (something meaty that can carry a thoughtful, profound, simple or complex compliment to the message of the day)
Feast at the Lord's Table (something that turns our hearts & minds to grateful contemplation, morphing to rejoicing)
Go back into the world equipped and commissioned (purposeful, joyful triumph,
maybe martial even)
I would like to see believers laying off the musical mud-slinging and banding together, bringing our various skills and preferences under the guidance of the needs of worship. A lot of the ill-will I've seen has come from believers allowing either personal preferences or a desire to please a crowd outweigh the consideration of serving God in worship and assisting fallen men (including ourselves) to draw near to Him.
As a matter of practical consideration, perhaps a discipline of reflection as we prepare for worship would settle a lot of things. We could ask ourselves:
What attitude needs to be supported in this part of the service?
Is this piece the best support for this attitude that we have at our disposal?
Am I just satisfying my own preferences or playing to the crowd for approval?
One last thought. Musical tastes are acquired. Musical tastes can be trained. Worship is largely about changing & maturing those who participate in it. We should be looking for our music to assist this over time as well. We should begin to be able to enter fully into the delights of all kinds of music as we learn its truest use in worship.
Well, I'll get off my soapbox now. Anyone want to heave a squashy tomato in my direction?