How do you think people should worship? When you travel to your local church for a Sunday morning worship service, what do you expect to see? People singing, everyone raising their hands? Hymns sung, or would it be the latest CCM pop/worship melody to make the rounds on radio currently? How would you respond during worship- jumping up and down, being silent and reflective, kneeling, or hands raised? These are all valid questions to the individual, and some that have divided many throughout the centuries. Just walk into an Anglican church, a Pentecostal church, a Baptist Church, or any other denominational church and you’d probably see what I mean. The definition of worship, aside from it being a lifestyle rather than a genre of music, has meant different things to different people. And here in this new post, we will think of another valid question relating to worship- can you worship and be in God’s presence, as much or maybe even more, when you listen to a rap melody from an artist like TobyMac or Lecrae, rather than a traditional worship artist like Kari Jobe or Chris Tomlin?
You’d look at this question and you think, ‘Of course, Jonathan. I definitely can worship to TobyMac as I can worship to Chris Tomlin’. Well, next time there is a TobyMac song on the radio, try worshipping to it. Better still, see if you can worship to anything but music classified within the confines of the worship CCM genre. Try it for a week. Yes, no Chris Tomlin, no Bethel, Hillsong, Passion, Crowder, Kim Walker-Smith, Israel Houghton, Paul Baloche, Kari Jobe, Tim Hughes… see if you can try worshipping to an artist like Skillet, Switchfoot, Stellar Kart, Building 429, Tenth Avenue North… I’m not trying to make a point that we have somehow been conditioned along the way to respond more worshipfully to songs highlighted and boxed within the worshipful cliché genre, but we have to step back and ponder. If worship is a lifestyle at it says in Romans 12:1, and we do in fact offer up to God a living sacrifice and live every aspect of life as an expression of worship and gratitude to him, then surely a TobyMac rap song and a Tim Hughes song could both be considered worship songs, if the lyrics of both show the persona of the melody expressing their undying love for our creator?
Many Christians listen to and enjoy many different types of music and genres of music. Some the more CCM flavour (like myself). Others a much more edgy sound. Some may like the worship music of Chris or Tim, others may enjoy the screamo emotion of RED, or the dance/pop element of Fireflight or Britt Nicole. Whatever the case, worship and our expression of it ought not to be limited to the style of music we enjoy or listen to. If we can worship to Chris Tomlin, and not to TobyMac, why not? Is there something we have inherently and subconsciously learnt in years gone by that vertical praise songs express our love for the Father in a much more superior way than others? Something to ponder and think about when you read this post.
For the rest of the week, I’ll try this experiment and let you know in next week’s Worship Wednesday’s post. For the next seven days, I’ll try worshipping, and I mean really worshipping
(hands in the air, knees knelt on the ground) to music that isn’t traditionally in the worship genre. I may discover something new or different about myself, or maybe re-enhance what I already know and believe. And that’s ok. It is good to discover something different about your beliefs, even if what you may want to discover is buried deep down and to drag it out may require some soul-searching.
As I leave you, let me give some contrasts of songs that could be worshipful. Here’s some tracks of some of the most powerful charting CCM melodies of 2015 so far. Which songs can you resonate/worship along with? Where any songs more difficult to worship alongside than others? Let me know in the comments. Til next time.