April 01, 2018

“If the music is too good then we aren’t worshiping God, we’re worshiping the music.”

This is a phrase I’ve heard uttered on occasion. There are many variations on this statement including, but not limited to, “If we work on the music too much, then we don’t leave room for the Holy Spirit to guide us” and “We can’t give ourselves fully to God if we polish the songs too much.”

Sorry, this is wrong. If this is what you believe, you should rethink your choice in leading worship. First, singing in worship is one of the many ways that we serve and glorify God. When we invest our time and effort in doing it well, we show God that we are willing to surrender ourselves to him and his glory. Just as a pastor spends extensive time on the skill of preaching, we must invest in our gifts as musicians. Statements like, “I didn’t work on the music as much this week because the Holy Spirit didn’t guide me to” are mistaken. This would be the equivalent of a pastor saying, “I didn’t write a sermon this week because I wasn’t guided to.”

Secondly, you’re a leader. If you don’t know the music forward and backward, you’re doing the congregation a disservice. Not all church attendees are musicians. If the songs you’re leading feature performance mistakes, weak transitions and lackadaisical visual leadership, then there’s nothing to follow. People won’t have the opportunity to join in song because you didn’t provide them with a solid musical foundation to stand on.

Third, we are called to nurture our gifts. Peter 4:10-11 states, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” God wants us to use the skills he has given us to lead his people. When we refuse so refine our work as worship leaders, we are ignoring this calling.

Finally, music is a blessing from God. Just as a sunset, the ocean, or a work of art, God has blessed us with many creations. Acknowledging the beauty of creation and these gifts is one of the many ways that we can truly worship God. By refining our voices and raising song to God at the best of our abilities, we are acknowledging his presence and worshiping him with all that we are. The factor we must keep in mind is the condition of our heart in the process. Did you sing that song with confidence because you wanted to lift yourself or because it was directed at God? As long as the true focus of the performance was to acknowledge and glorify God then doing it well is the way to go.

Thanks for tuning in this month and engaging in the discussion of worship music. If you have any questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you! You can contact me at any time via email at rmclouth@centralmethodist. edu or phone at 660-651-9964.