If there is one thing that seems to separate the church the most, it’s preferences of Worship styles. Being that satan was the worship leader in heaven, it comes as no surprise. He can’t stand to see people in the spot where he once stood loving on God through music, so of course, that’s one of his favorite places to go in for the kill. Strategic as always, if he can get us all riled up over which style is the “right” style (which there really is no such thing, because it’s not about the music), he can succeed in getting our focus off of the reason we worship in the first place.
I am part of a group that has devoted itself to being faithful to pray over a number of prayers that have been submitted for breakthrough in our area specifically. As I was reading through the list, I saw a prayer request for people who are worshipping Christian music and the musicians and for them to focus on God and just enjoy the music. Of course, as a worshipper, this is going to stick out to me like a sore thumb. Maybe I read too much into it, but to me it seems a bit presumptuous and maybe even a little judgmental. How does this person know that to be true? We can’t truly tell the heart of the person standing next to us while they are worshipping. Only God can see that.
My question would be, why are they focusing on other people in the first place? Wasn’t their prayer to be focused on God during Worship?
As a Worship leader I take this kind of thing to heart. As any other worship leader knows, our job is to bring the presence of God down to earth in a way that is tangible to others. It’s not about the music or singing or anything else…it’s about the presence of God and helping others to feel that presence and express their heart towards Jesus in a way that is real. So, when you see the opposite, it can be disheartening.
We are all different..so we are all going to have different styles of worship that speak to us, right? There is no such thing as a “right” or “wrong” style of Worship…because Worship is not just music or singing…it’s dancing, working, praying, talking to God, etc…anything you do for God is Worshipping Him. One thing that stops the flow for me quicker than anything is criticism. Because I’m pulled out of that divine focus and presence.
I’ve seen a congregation turn against a worship leader because they felt his style was “too contemporary”. Every Monday, he’d check his email to see message after message of criticism, which is ironic considering it was coming from the church…a place of worship in itself. He was hurt and discouraged, but he knew his direction came from the Lord and that is what he focused on and Sunday after Sunday, he was faithful to present what the Lord asked him to share even though he was hurting. Obedience comes at a price, but God is always faithful to bless it and sometimes we don’t see the fruit of that until much later down the road.
So, back to the prayer request, I decided instead to pray for the person who wrote it; that they would not make assumptions, but instead be so overwhelmed with the Love and Presence of God regardless of the style. Truth is when you are truly in a place of Worship, you are overcome with the Message…you’re not focused on the music. It’s like a person who says they go to church and believe in God, but there is no relationship and it’s evident in how they relate to you. The closer we get to God, the more we love other people. Because He rubs off on us, so the more we are in His presence, the more we become like Him. Of course, there are situations where God will ask us to separate ourselves from certain things or people who are hurting us repeatedly to the point where it is not healthy for us. I know for me, when I can feel myself becoming bitter, it usually means it’s time for a break because those things can hinder our relationship with God and ability to hear His voice. But we can still love from a distance even though some would use that as a chance to “question” our Christianity. And when I try to bulldoze my way through, I’m drowning in nothing but confusion. And God is not the author of confusion.
Lord, knows I am not perfect. I struggle with hurt and offense over certain things, just like everyone else. And sometimes, I’m just not “feeling” it when it comes to Worship. But I know when those moments come, it’s usually something inside that I need to work out. And thank the Lord it’s not about a “feeling”!
My prayer is that, as I walk this out, that God will give me the courage to deliver what He asks me to deliver regardless of the audience or possibility of criticism. I have a mentor who often says, “Being a Christian doesn’t mean I do what you want me to do. It means I do what GOD tells me to do regardless of who agrees or disagrees.”