Updated: Apr 9, 2019
Some years ago I was asked to write an article using the title "Worship Wars." It was interesting to see those two words side by side. To compile the article, I chose to draw some lessons from the Abraham, Isaac & Mt. Moriah story found in Genesis 22.
I found it significant to read that just prior to climbing Mt. Moriah, Abraham made the statement to his travel assistants, "The lad and I will go yonder and worship and come again to you." The text further reveals that both of them went "together."
When preaching from that text, I attempt to press the point that two individuals from two different generations found a way to climb the same mountain and participate in and experience worship "together." Attempting to use a light hearted, and what I hope is a clear illustration, I try to point out that Abraham didn't climb alone with a "Red Back" Hymnal tucked under his arm, worship and come back saying to Isaac, "Now it's your turn." Nor did Isaac climb alone with his iPod with ear buds firmly pressed near to his eardrum, while dancing up the hill to "Jesus Culture, Hillsong or Planetshakers" yet refusing to allow for his Father's contribution to the experience." It didn't happen that way. Abraham and Isaac found a way to climb the mountain and worship, together.
Abraham and Isaac found a way to climb the mountain and worship, together.
When it comes to church music, I've seen both the Abraham and Isaac generations get it right and I've also seen them get it wrong and it doesn't have as much to do with style, lyrics, rhythm or age as it typically has to do with attitude, humility and a willingness or not, to allow for one another's expressions of heartfelt worship to the Lord.
Regardless of style, I'm convinced, that if a lyric honors the Lord Jesus and the song is presented in a way that also honors Him, then our Heavenly Father is surely pleased. Some may differ, but I believe that balance can and should be found in a congregation of mixed generations. Christ can be exalted and a church doesn't have to be divided over stylistic issues as it relates to music. A church focused on the Great Commission should find little time to be easily ensnared with conflicts built only around musical preferences.
Regardless of style, I'm convinced, that if a lyric honors the Lord Jesus and the song is presented in a way that also honors Him, then our Heavenly Father is surely pleased.
Both Traditional and Contemporary Gospel songs can have their good and bad points. I think it can be said that what can be good and/or bad about one can also be good and/or bad about the other.
Either can be unscriptural in their lyrical construction.
Either can be difficult to sing with challenging rhyme and rhythm and patterns that ultimately take away from the enjoyment of singing.
Either can become redundant and lose at least some impact and effectiveness.
Either can be too lyrically complex utilizing words that only trained theologians can understand.
Either can be irrelevant utilizing metaphors that are not as familiar, if at all, to some audiences, younger or older.
Either can be constructed to only appeal to the emotions of the audience more than the edifying of our Savior. While emotion is inherently a part of our music and worship, It's always much more important for a song to stir passion for and about Jesus than any other purpose it may serve.
Either can be "over used." There's a reason a song is called a "hit". Every genre of Gospel Music has them. When a song is extremely familiar, it tends to be used a lot and can become a "crutch" to lean on if a singer or worship leader is unprepared or unrehearsed.
Either can become performance driven by the singer(s) rather than a led and inspired corporate expression of worship where everyone may easily participate.
On the other hand:
Both can serve to lift up Jesus.
Both can inspire people to a closer walk with God.
Both can serve as discipleship and teaching opportunities set to music.
Both can prepare hearts to receive the preached Word of God.
Both can serve as a means of involving more people in the worship expression and experience.
Both can be lyrically impactful to the point of being little "sermons set to music" that reach unconverted hearts with a message of God's love.
Both can put a smile on the face of Jesus evoking his "Well done my good and faithful worshipper(servant)."
Everyone has an opinion, a preference and a taste in music. Our Heavenly Father does as well and here it is....
"Sing to the Lord a new song for He has done marvelous things.....Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth; bust into jubilant song with music. Make music to the Lord with the harp and the sound of singing. With trumpets and the blast of the Rams horn. Shout for the joy of the Lord, the King. " -Psalm 98