Before dealing with this topic, I want to thank God for allowing me to grow every day in my understanding of Him. I want to thank Him for allowing me to know Him in order to worship Him better. I can’t hide that as a “worship leader”, we tend to think we understand better what concerns worship. I am learning that worship goes beyond the beautiful chords, harmoniously played on Sunday morning. I also want to remind us that idolatry does not always mean a golden calf or a wooden god. It is anything that takes the place of God.
As musicians we are surely exposed to a lot of variety of music, we are ahead of our congregations probably by ten years who knows? I haven’t done that research but I can tell by the way older people respond to certain new and hard songs and the joy they express when you bring an old song they know. It is also strange to me to see how some young people rejoice over a new song even when they don’t know or understand the lyrics yet. As long as it was released by the most happening Christian band, we are good to go! The more you sound modern, the cooler you are. Is worship about our very old cherished memories or our today’s trends?
The war between generations and their music styles is endless and even pointless since whoever is young today will be old tomorrow and the cycle will reload. Anything old today was once new. My only concern is when people love so much their musical preference and think it is the only way of worshiping God. Music genres and styles, types of instruments played, the sound system used become the new idol standing between us and God. This becomes evident when Christians visit other churches that do not necessarily use the same type of music as them. It usually becomes almost impossible for them to worship. A spirit of criticism takes over and one’s focus becomes the music and not God. Since we are unable to connect to Him without our type of music we blame it on the band playing and say there was no presence of God or anointing.
This is a distorted understanding of what worship is. Worship is not what happens when a band is in front of us. There is much more. As Daniel Block says, “Speaking biblically and theologically the sacred and the secular may not be divorced. However, if one feels compelled to separate them, life as worship takes precedence over the cultic and liturgical expressions of worship. True worship is expressed primarily in everyday conduct.” Instead of fighting over our music preferences, let us as ourselves if we are worshiping God in spirit and in truth. Let us examine our lives and make sure, our behavior, our values, our families, glorify and honor God. If a certain song which is not our taste blesses other people, let us rejoice with them as they connect with God. Let us be Christ-focused and sing songs that touch his heart and not our feelings, emotions and preferences. He is the recipient and not us. We need to be aware of the individualism caused by the Romantic Movement where self is exalted. This pushes us to the funny concept of “what is in it for me?”
The musical preference that stems out of that self-centered culture becomes at the end an idol. We love it so much that we cannot see God when worshiped in other styles. This clearly communicates our lack of relationship with God.
By Fabrice Nzeyimana