There is a tension that lies within the world of pop-church and worship. As this passionate, innovative and audacious generation of Worship Leaders emerges, we are faced with what we will do with our Biblical interpretation of worship.
Will we create and advocate for epic, melodic and popular musical composition with catchy hooks?
Or will we let the creative musical element subside, and choose songs primarily based on the depth of lyrical content?
Is it possible that this generation could get fired up about theology as much as we do about crafty melodies? The tension lies within each of us cultivating and shaping our local church communities musically.
A simple reality is embedded into the fabric of mankind — music moves us. Every nation, tribe and tongue has a style of music that is unique to them and brings identity to the whole of a people group. In the context of the church, it’s no different. We often find a common ground (spiritually and communally) in the music that we sing. Music creates chemistry amongst people like no other thing in creation can. Music changes the temperature of a community, and as Christ-followers we ought to have the best music and lyrics in the entire world.
As leaders steering and coaching our communities, the discussion about a Biblical approach to worship is imperative. The songs we choose to sing will have lasting effects on the people we influence. The Word of God is rich and full, but when paired with anthems that proclaim it from our mouths in song, it is often the most effective reinforcement of our theology available to us.
The answer to the question, “What does your weekend set list say about your church?” should have huge implications on the depth of intimacy and theology your community is going after with their lives.
Why Do We Sing?
Music is part of the love language of our Creator and therefore it moves us to sing, as we so blatantly bear His image. In Zephaniah 3, it even declares that God is “rejoicing over His people with singing.” Music is in our Creator’s DNA, and so it is in ours.
Ultimately, the songs we choose for our communities to sing are vital as we seek to walk people more poignantly in the way of Jesus. Songs give life by allowing people to respond and react to the truth of who God is, what He’s done, and what He’s doing.
Pastor Mike Pilavachi of “Soul Survivor Watford” sets the record straight when he so eloquently defines worship as a response to the revelation of God in our lives. In other words, the songs we sing can only be as loud as the lives we’re living, and we ought to be pushing ourselves and our people to sing their songs LOUD in every way!
How Do We Choose?
When choosing songs, it’s important that we look at worship holistically. Everything we sing should fall under one of these three major themes: Covenant, Worship, and Justice. Covenant is the way we have access and relationship to God. Worship is our response to God’s goodness and mercy towards us in this covenant relationship. Justice is our commissioning to be the hands and feet of Christ by engaging the less fortunate and bringing hope to the broken.
These themes should serve as the guideposts for the lyrics we’re either writing or selecting for our churches to sing. The way the lyrics are expressed creatively and musically may change from community to community, region to region, and generation to generation, but the importance of firmly-rooted Biblical lyrics remain the same.
Here are some questions to help you reflect on your song choices:
- What songs are being lifted in your community? Are they songs that speak of this profound covenant? Are they songs that cause us to reflect and respond in humble obedience? Are they songs that cry out for the least of these?
- What songs move you? What songs give you motivation to press through during hard times? What songs make you want to lay on the floor in total surrender? What songs make you lift your hands and spin around in absolute joy?
- What songs center your heart? What songs remind you of your true identity, and the identity of God? What songs proclaim God’s desires for us?
Songs that activate such responses come from lyrics anchored in Covenant, Worship and Justice.
May we be a generation of Worship Leaders pressing through tasty Coldplay and U2 riffs (although not bad musical choices) into emerging, holistic, biblically-rooted songs. May we be a generation of Worship Leaders that pair our lives up to the grandiose lyrics we’re singing, so that the people we’re leading will align their lives right along with us! May we be deliberate in the depth of the theology we’re teaching our communities through our songs, while we also continue to create and choose the best music the world has ever heard! And may we reclaim the arts for the Kingdom of God and may our lives sing just as loud as the lyrics we sing!