So, after a bit of a vacation (filled with a lot of work), I am officially returning to the world of blogging. One of the things I want to examine in upcoming posts is the subject of music used in worship. I have been thinking a lot about this topic in the past year, and have come to some conclusions which I think are helpful in considering this important issue.
Before I launch into the topic, allow me one initial observation, and that is simply that most of the discussions miss the point. The current worship wars are dominated by considerations of style and preference, while the deeper Biblical and theological issues are ignored. By overlooking these foundational points, the discussion is doomed to failure, becoming bogged down in secondary considerations.
Previous approaches ignoring deeper theological considerations ultimately have proved fruitless. Churches committed to traditional worship forms struggle to reach out beyond a decreasing segment of the American population; experiencing in most cases negligible growth. At the same time, church growth proponents utilize contemporary forms and see significant growth, but lack substance and depth. This lack is leading to a surge of interest in Calvinistic and Reformed theology, yet conservative, Reformed denominations like the OPC are not seeing the fruit in this trend. Both traditional and contemporary approaches have little success in meaningfully uniting churches across generational, racial and socio-economic barriers. While a variety of other factors account for this segregation, the prominent part music plays cannot be downplayed. Though segregation may be the inevitable result in our fallen churches, we must remove any and every possible hindrance to fellowship. Underlying all actions and choices the church makes with regard to any element in worship is a tacit theology of the church. Bringing these powerful, but often unspoken assumptions, to the surface allows them to be critically examined for their coherence and Biblical soundness.
Beginning the discussion with an examination of the Biblical pattern of worship set forth in Scripture, along with considering the identity and mission of the church- then moving into a consideration of form and style offers the only hope for bridging the impasse in the “worship wars.”