THOUGHTS ON WORSHIP FOR REDEEMER
The songs we sing at church and the style they are sung in can be a source of joy and satisfaction, or frustration and contention.
We all have styles we like best and songs we just love. With more songs coming out every day and styles changing rapidly there’s a tug to be up-to-the-minutes. However, with Christianity being a 2000 year old religion that’s always sung, there’s a richness to songs from the past that are left in the past to our own disadvantage. Add to that, a desire to be a church for everyone, because everyone needs to go to heaven, and this makes church music a complicated subject, no doubt.
With some of that in mind, I thought I’d reproduce for you the highlights from an email I sent Josh, our musical worship leader (I say “musical worship” because worship is all of life —Romans 12:1 — not just what we do with instruments on Sunday morning) a couple months after he came on staff with us. Like everything in our 8 month-old church relaunch, our music is a work in progress so please approach this subject, both in this blog and moving forward, in a spirit of love and charity.
My hope in showing you this email is that it will help you understand where we’re coming from and show you the direction we hope to be going in as it relates to musical worship. The values below are in no particular order.
I’ve been thinking a lot about musical worship over the years so this email is me trying to put something down in writing. It’s not meant to be read like it’s etched in stone. I’m sure we’ll tweak things as time goes by. Also, I don’t think I have all the answers. I’m still growing in this area and am completely open to input.
I guess, this is more the beginning of a conversation about musical worship than anything else in the interest of open communication and expectations. This is how I think about music for our church, at least for now (in a church relaunch everything is “for now”).
All that being said, I LOVE what you’ve said previously about one of the goals for singing on Sundays being celebration, celebrating God and that He works in our life. He is SO good to us, that that should be one of the main goals you have every week as you think through song selection, to celebrate. Amen! Right on! Couldn’t agree more!
With that in mind, here are some more values for you to think through:
Multi-Generational — How do we get 19-90 year olds to celebrate God together? They all need to, so how can we help them with the style, song choices, instruments, etc.? I’m all for “80s, 90s and today” for worship songs with a bunch of hymns too, as long as the songs we sing are biblical and touch on the other things below. I don’t want you to be obsessed with introducing the latest, hippest worship songs. Each Sunday, I’m thinking about the older Christians at our church and hoping some of the songs and the tempo/feel/volume of songs are blessing them too. This is hard work, I know, but we can’t leave anyone out because God brought us a diverse group of people to care for.
Room Size & Structure — What style and volume of music best “fits the room” God has given us at Redeemer? I’d be fine with an acoustic guitar, cajon and violin for our room, but I want to use the musicians God’s bringing to us to build the band. Whoever He brings let’s use their gifting to their max potential, but with the room limitations in mind.
God-Focused — A majority of the songs we sing every week should focus our attention on God far more than ourselves. I like prayer songs where I’m talking to God so it doesn’t have to be 100% God-centered songs (the Psalms aren’t), but mostly.
Gospel-Centrality — This is the biggest value for me, songs that remind me of Jesus, especially His death and resurrection. We should get a steady dose of songs that center the singer on Jesus. We all come to church on Sundays knowing God has a standard and we didn’t meet it. Therefore, we need to be reminded of the Gospel in the music so when we hear direction from God in the sermon that direction is in its proper context, namely, after reminders of the Gospel.
Not a Performance — We use our gifts and abilities to the peak of their potential, but in a way that God gets the glory and not us. Even in little things like transitions and song endings, God gets the glory. The goal for both you and me is that we get out of the way so that people can marvel at Jesus. This would mean the goal is that all the musicians are worshiping and smiling and not so focused on what they’re doing that they forget they are worshipers first and leading us in worship second. I’m all for doing things well, but perfection is an idol so never strive for that.
Thanks Josh! Love you dearly!