Why we must be open to different styles of worship music

April 19, 2018

This past weekend, I had the privilege of worshipping at a gathering of many churches from one area (in my denomination, an “associational” meeting). During that meeting, several worship teams—all using different styles, and some in a different language—led us in worship. Since then, I’ve thought about why we must be open to different styles, regardless of our worship style preferences.

  1. God is glorified by the variety of music styles. 
    God is the Creator who created our world with incredible variety, from flowers to people. Apparently, He is glorified by such variety, so we need to appreciate it.
  2. Various styles allow others to use their gifts. 
    Let’s be honest—some folks are better at leading hymns, and some are better at leading contemporary choruses. When we employ multiple styles, we open the door for more folks to use their gifts.
  3. Learning to appreciate multiple styles is a sign of Christian humility. 
    A willingness to be stretched about music styles for the sake of the gospel is evidence of godliness and humility. Regardless of our preferences, it’s arrogance that says, “I’m never going to change my mind. I like what I like.”
  4. Multiple styles help us to reach and keep multiple generations. 
    It’s no secret that older generations generally prefer hymns and younger generations prefer contemporary music. If we want to reach everybody, we must be open to worshiping with all generations.
  5. We can all learn from other music styles. 
    Many classical hymns teach great theology, but so do many contemporary choruses. Both include selections that come straight out of Scripture—sometimes built around direct quotes of biblical texts. Both of them can be God-honoring, so we should be open to learning from each.
  6. Appreciating various styles allows us to worship together. 
    I understand the choice to establish different worship services according to style, but sometimes we completely separate the generations in doing that. Perhaps we’d worship well together if we learned to appreciate all styles of worship.
  7. God has not ordained one music style.
    If He had, it be would right to stand up for the only one He has ordained. Because He hasn’t—and because of #1 above—we must be open to various styles.

What are your thoughts?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Chuck Lawless is dean of doctrinal studies and vice-president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. This article was originally published on chucklawless.com and is used with permission.

by Chuck Lawless  
/  Vice-President of Spiritual Formation  /  Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

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