Do Worship Preferences Really Matter?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Worshiping God with fellow believers is a beautiful experience. For nearly 3,500 years, congregational worship has gathered believers all around the world with one purpose: to praise the Lord of all.

In today's 21st century, there are insurmountable ways the church worships together. For instance, the Ethiopian church that worships in mud houses is vastly different from the Southern Gospel church that worships in Alabama.

One group of believers worships through drum beating and dancing; the other through four-part harmony and organs. Culturally, they're polar opposites. Yet they worship the same God.

So, do worship preferences really matter?

Much of today's congregational worship habits are based off cultural taste. Whether we like it or not, culture shapes the world around us, and in turn, shapes our choice of food, clothing, speech patterns, and music.

Overall there isn't anything wrong with preferring one type of music over another. We are individuals created to be unique, after all. Most preferences are based solely on materialistic value, though, and it's easy to let those material preferences invade our spiritual worship. One example of this is when a Christian has such strong stylistic preferences that he or she is unable to worship outside those preferences.

John 4:24 says that "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." Anything outside the realms of the spirit and truth are dispensable.

But what exactly does that mean, "in spirit and truth?"

The Ryrie Study Bible explains in their notes that "the English word 'worship' was originally spelled 'worthship' and means to acknowledge the worth of the object worshiped. We should acknowledge God's worth 'in spirit' (in contrast to material ways) and in 'truth' (in contrast to falsehood)."

Let's break this down a bit.

First, we cannot worship God unless we recognize that Jesus is the "way, the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6). We must realize that we are all in dire need of a Savior, and that Jesus became that Savior when He defeated death on the cross.

Second, to fully acknowledge God in spirit, we can't be focused on the things of this earth. This doesn't mean we shouldn't use music to worship. It simply means we have to give every aspect of ourselves to Him. We have to accept that whatever is here on earth is temporary, while God is everlasting. If we allow the kind of music we use in worship to take precedence over God, then it is no longer worship. Instead, our focus turns to our preferences rather than to God.

Dr. John Duncan, a professor on the theology of worship at Truett-McConnell University, penned this definition: "Biblical worship is the believer's sincere and spirit-empowered response to the redemptive action of God in Christ Jesus."

When we acknowledge God in spirit and truth, and respond to His mercy and grace in Christ Jesus, our worship becomes deeply personal and beautifully bittersweet. This is not reserved for congregational worship once or twice a week. No, this kind of worship is something God wants of us every second of our lives.

Believers can and should worship under all styles of music. Whether it's with a full band, flashy lights, and fog machines, or with bongo drums and interpretive dancing, true worship always leads us to the cross.

What are your thoughts on the subject? 
What ways have you worshiped outside your normal preferences? 
Comment and share your stories below!


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