What about culture?
I was in Kenya recently, fellowshipping and ministering with Christians there. Although the Kenyan Church has been influenced by western culture, the country’s culture is clearly evident in the style of worship and the musicality of the songs sung in church services.
While there, I learned that within that country, different tribes use different beats for music they write and create. Is one beat or style better than the other? No. Is a western, gospel style of worship music better than an ethnically diverse style? No.
Cultural influences in music style or service style don’t determine whether something is appropriate worship. Worship of God is determined by what is said to and about God. Revelation 7:11 says, “And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.’” NASB (boldface added).
Revelation 4:8-11 says, “And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.’ And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, ‘Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.’” NASB (boldface added).
The style of music does not determine what is worship. The words we say from our hearts that are submitted to God determine whether we are worshiping.
In my book, To None But God, I wrote, “The worship experience should be primarily about creating an opportunity to express adoration of God and to exalt His character and nature. It’s not about creating a current-culture, natural atmosphere that you like. If it was, then all those in the past who worshiped in a different style, or those people who worship at home without the production, weren’t and aren’t really worshiping.” And, “When our focus is on pleasing our senses, we have looked away from God Himself—His glory, His power, His beauty, and His holiness.” (To None But God, © 2017 Melody Lavin)
Music is powerful. It impacts our bodies, influences our souls, and can be used as a tool to enhance our worship of God. We should ensure that the music styles we choose don’t overshadow what we’re saying in worship, and that they aren’t manipulating our bodies and souls to the detriment of the spiritual connection of our worship of God.
To None But God
A challenge for every pastor, worship leader, music minister, choir director and worship team leader
by Melody Lavin
U.S. Only: $6.99 + s/h