IT’S WORSHIP IN “SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH” NOT “SPIRIT AND IN STYLE” :
Let us first establish that the style of your worship is not nearly as important as the heart of your worship. Is it authentic and genuine, birthed out of a relationship with the Father? God wants most of all YOU not your style.
THE TIE THAT BINDS:
The common thread that binds all of us together is our pure worship of the Father. God, our Father. Our Lord, our Saviour, our Redeemer. The one who loves us, sustains us, sacrificed for us. The universal object of our worship. That type worship knows no color, no culture, denomination, no particular style. It simply is what it is… God alone is worthy of our honor, adoration, and praise, and our worship is our response to all that He is, with all that we are.
THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO DO IT:
Yes, we are products of our environment, background, upbringing and culture. We have grown accustomed to certain styles of worship. We have even, in some cases attached spiritual relevance to certain styles of worship, and some protect it fiercely! Your way is not the only way. We must embrace the fact that there are varying yet equally valid and relevant forms and expressions of worship. Do not mistake your personal likes or dislikes for what is, or isn’t, a valid form or expression of worship.
DON’T CHANGE… EXPAND!:
Our discussion here is not about trying to change who you are. Be who you are; be glad about who you are (even if you do clap on 1&3, instead of 2&4); (Smile), be thankful and celebrate the fact that God has uniquely created and gifted you to do what you do. Our objective here is that you would expand, broaden your mindsets to embrace, include, incorporate, and allow for different expressions/styles of worship.
The Kingdom of God is ALL of us. Why then is Sunday morning still one of the most segregated times of the week in America? We need to begin to more fully and accurately represent the Kingdom in our worship and begin to break down some of these walls that have divided us far too long! Why just wait for heaven? Why not start representing the Kingdom now?
THE POWER OF MUSIC:
Music is one of the most powerful tools for bringing the cultures together. Never underestimate its’ power. Music has the ability to permeate the soul and the subconscious. If I find your right rhythm or groove, I can tell you anything I want you to know and you will be much more willing to listen to what I have to say. Music truly reflects the awesome opportunity and responsibility we have in the area of worship to truly make a difference and bridge the cultural gaps like perhaps nothing else… for example, the utilization of hymns in worship works extremely well for crossing cultures.
WE ALL BRING SOMETHING TO THE TABLE:
There are parts of my cultural expression of worship you need. There are parts of your cultural expression of worship I need. We all have something to offer. Part of my upbringing included praise and worship (actually testimony/devotional service), where anyone could perhaps sing anything at any time, we would sing a song like “God is a good God… Yes He is” That’s the whole song! Not very deep lyrically, but I challenge you to find any worship with more heart, passion, energy, and spirit. Likewise, as tremendous a worship song like “Shout To The Lord” is, I can show you hundreds of thriving growing churches that have never heard of that song or been exposed to it’s lyrical depth and power. We all have something each other needs.
We all have them in some form or another. I was an Air Force kid, so we traveled quite a bit, and recall when we went to England, and I went to school and went to PE for the first time. They were playing basketball at this particular time, and I soon as I walked into the gym they all said “we want him on our team”, I said “no, you really don’t”. I didn’t really play basketball much at that time, and they quickly found that out! But here was this black kid, from the states walking into the gym, of course he knows how to play basketball! What a stereotype. I remember my first “contemporary christian” worship experience many years ago thinking.. “Oh Lord, I bet this is going to be boring!” “I hope they at least turn up the sound system so I can hear.” Nothing could have been further from the truth! We have to be careful about not bringing stereotypes into our worship.
SO, HOW DO WE DO IT?
Well, first let me say, it won’t be necessarily easy. Change never is. There will be resistance. As I said earlier, there are some who attach spiritual relevance to certain styles of worship (and they are not going down without a fight). I might add that some of you are facing resistance right now just transitioning from maybe a more traditional to a more contemporary style of worship. Imagine incorporating cultural diversity! Be deliberate and intentional.
Don’t be scared to form fellowships with other churches in your community as well. Invite other praise teams to do worship at your church some Sunday, and then you do worship at theirs. Maybe do a joint fellowship every so often. See, that is intentional. You had to have meant to do that.
Remember, worship gives us a powerful opportunity and tool to effectively and genuinely bridge the gaps and truly represent God’s Kingdom… which is all of us!