By Lily Carlson
Hymns. Have you ever caught yourself slightly disappointed when the words of “A Mighty Fortress is our God” come up on the screen? I’ve been guilty of it too. The church I attended growing up was not a huge advocate for hymns. It’s always awkward when everyone around me in chapel is belting the words with their eyes closed while I’m over here mumbling who-knows-what until the sound man finally switches to the next slide of lyrics. I avoid the King James Version because it’s too much work to follow all the thees and thous; and if I didn’t know better I would say Yoda influenced the decisions made about word order. I don’t want to have to spend more time interpreting the hymn than I spend doing what it says. Hymns are simply outdated; isn’t worship all about electric guitars and drums?
Nothing screams contemporary worship like an Air1-worthy band clothed in trendy tops and dark jeans. You always have the attractive lead guitarist, the quiet bass player, the rebel drummer, and the gorgeous female vocalist (who keeps the clapping rhythm for those who lack multitasking skills). A service is not complete without at least one song by Phil Wickham, one song instructing everyone to raise their hands to Jesus, and one song that moves the crowd to tears. Then again, Phil Wickham’s song might do all three. Verse one, chorus. Verse two, chorus. Guitar solo and drum build up to… the bridge! If you’re hands aren’t reaching for the ceiling, elbows locked and spirit fingers wiggling, you’re probably not going to heaven.
Ok, so maybe the church has always had issues with the techniques used for worship. I highly doubteth thy people of thy past all the time doth speaketh like so; and I highly doubt the outstretched arms of today’s church goers are always backed with purpose. It is easy to nitpick at the negative aspects of worship music we do not prefer. But before you dismiss the music to think about what you’ll eat for lunch after the service, I challenge you to define the word “worship.”
The first thing most Christians think when they are told to define worship is, “the music played at church.” Yes, this is part of it. But I would argue the best definition of worship can be found in its purpose.
The purpose of worship is to glorify God. In church service music, this purpose can take on many forms, from Yoda hymns to hipster bands. The point is not in the style of the music; it is the deeper, genuine desires of the worshipper. Do you desire to glorify God by believing the words you’re singing and legitimately working to apply those words in your everyday life? If so, the worship style shouldn’t matter. Hymns and contemporary music can both fulfill their purpose of praising God.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a short-attention spanned judgmental jerk like me. I once was lost in selfishness, but now I want to honor you. Was mute, but now I sing.