Can You Feel It?

amazing-grace.jpegChallenging Some Worship Myths, 3rd & final part

7. The myth that repetitious worship music is bad. Understand where I’m coming from before you hurl rotten tomatoes. I grew up on a solid diet of hymns. I love them. To this day, my heart resonates with Stayed Upon Jehovah. Immortal, Invisible. Great Is Thy Faithfulness. Toss in some Thee’s, sprinkle on some Thy’s, and I’m there. Those songs had CONTENT; they were a Bible class set to music. How about this glorious classic for great content:

My hope is in the Lord, who gave Himself for me.
And paid the price of all my sins at Calvary.
For me He died, for me He lives,
And everlasting light and life He freely gives.

No merit of my own, His anger to suppress,
My only hope is found in Jesus’ righteousness.
For me He died, for me He lives,
And everlasting light and life He freely gives.

And now for me He stands, before the Father’s throne,
He shows His wounded hands, & names me as His own.
For me He died, for me He lives,
And everlasting light and life He freely gives.

His grace has planned it all, ’tis mine but to believe,
And recognize His work of love, and Christ receive
For me He died, for me He lives,
And everlasting light and life He freely gives.

(Norman Clayton, 1945. We used to teach this hymn to our Awana kids and they loved it because we sang it rousingly).

gospelchoir.jpegCan I get an Amen?

BUT…. before you Old-Souls go finger-wagging at the younger generation’s “shallow” “repetitious” lyrics, stop and think.

At the risk of promulgating a pejorative, (look ’em up), I’d like to lovingly confront the insult that calls today’s music “Seven-Eleven” music. “Seven words repeated eleven times.”

Be nice! If I hear that one again, I’ll turn positively prophetic on you!

Why? Because “he is good, his mercy endures forever” is seven words. And the classic hymn book called THE BIBLE repeats it TWENTY SIX (26) TIMES in one simple song (Ps 136) and countless times in other places.

yeslord.jpegIF (and it’s a big IF) the biblical portion of the corporate worship service is strong, then it’s okay for some of the musical portion to be a COUNTERPOINT to the message, “Yes Lording” us all the way to a mind-freeing, logic-fleeing, hand-clapping, foot-stamping, mood-enhancing, spirit-dancing good time had by all.

It’s okay. Breathe.

What I’m saying is that IT’S ALL GOOD, and that in the right place and the right time, any style of worship music is a good style (or a bad style in the wrong place). For any of us to dismiss another STYLE is just bad manners.

Dismiss bad theology, of course. Dismiss chronic shallowness, yes. But the mind wears out if we’re all meat all the time. Pez is nice too for a change. Sometimes shallow is good. It’s all good. It’s not either/or. It’s… you know…

I love a good hymn with a beefy organ that rumbles my body. Next time you complain about the bass being too loud for Jesus, remember the organ at Moody Church and how much you liked the bass. Your problem isn’t the bass–it’s that you just don’t like the song!

But maybe somebody else does! Somebody must, even if it’s ONLY the worship leader who picked it (a crime all too common these days).

I also love Aaron Shust revving my spirit with Long Live the King and a bass line that makes me want to move. (Great Lyrics too).

And yep, even a few Yes Lords.

Okay, okay. I don’t like repetition… and my heart doesn’t scream… and I’m not desperate for anything (except a transmission on my van)… and I better is one day not singing that song… and yeah… there are a lot of lyrics I don’t like, and the hyperbole galls me, and the mixed metaphors hurt my sensibilities.

But that’s just me. And I am not the final arbiter of what’s good and bad in worship music. Like I said, it’s all good in the right context.

And can you say, Do Lord? How old is that one?

There are bad songs. Sure are. But there are no bad styles per se. Which leads briefly to:


8. The myth that one size fits all. Nobody believes this myth except a worship team who’s surprised when people leave the church. Hey, we liked it… shouldn’t everybody?

No. And that’s why a church worship team has to act like missionaries. I dress in pressed slacks and shirt for our classic service (traditional) and then have 18 minutes to change into blue jeans and freshen up for our celebration service (contemporary). I do it so I can reach a specific culture best for Jesus.

ilovu.jpegIf we target a hip-hop generation or country western crowd or a skateboard culture or a gospel singing 6/8 all-skate crowd (clap on 2-3 and 5-6), shouldn’t we speak and sing their language? Heck, I join the sign language section whenever we have one and try to sing that way… I look like a fool, but I’m a fool for Jesus!

We’ve set our target age for our contemporary services at 37 years old. Why? Because that’s the median age in our town. Do we want to drive others away? No way. Will we drive others away? Yes indeed. And they’re not all nice about it.

That’s why I told my church that the farther you are from the top of our bell curve, the more you will have to TOLERATE because you don’t like it.

And you don’t have to like it; it’s not your style. If you’re 17 OR 71 and like what we do, we’re missing our target. You don’t have to like it. Really. It’s okay.

But you MUST NOT CONDEMN IT or damn it with words like 7-11 or unsweetly or boring or old-fashioned or trashy).

The task of church leadership is to REGULATE THE CONDUCT OF PUBLIC WORSHIP in a way that best fulfills God’s calling on that church. If that means lots of emotion and passion, go for it. IF that means formal and somber, good for you. If that means clapping, or no clapping, or jumping, or tongues, or no tongues… hey, I’m all for you. I might not be with you, but I’m for you.

There’s light, the content and depth of the music. And there’s heat, the passion and energy of the music. Leaders get to regulate that. Personally, I’d like to see a whole lot of BOTH.

I love it all! As long as I don’t have to listen to it all.

Worship unlocks the inner sanctum of our hearts. It thaws icy spirits. And it delights the heart of God. That’s what it’s all about.

Hey—any worship leaders out there wanna come and work with me?


3 thoughts on “Can You Feel It?

  1. Yes, yes, yes and I’m not hurling tomatoes. You said “It’s all good in the right context.” (right place/right time.) Glad you said that because I really think some stuff stinks! However, if the STYLE is not mine, then I will tolerate the music and most of the words. (“I love it all, as long as I don’t have to listen to it all.”)

    As for repetition – I can agree with you, too, because it has happened to me. The “Yes, Lords” drove me whacky at Women of Faith. It wasn’t until I realized just how much I was saying “No” to the Lord that I began to appreciate all those “yeses.” A huge dose of humble pie, so to speak. That’s one of my favorite songs now – a choice to trade our sorrows for the joy of the Lord! Pretty profound, really.

    Thanks for getting me out of my narrow hole. I’m free now to dismiss the junk theology and chronic shallowness – all without guilt!! Yeah! Bring on the ear plugs!!

  2. Really, though, I think those repetitious songs are for us worship team members who can’t remember lots of words to lots of complex theological songs. 🙂 The congregation doesn’t want to watch us watch the monitors now do they? I’m happy when there are simple lyrics thrown in. It helps me do my job!

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