#191 – Judging Worship

I love worshipping God through music.

I first really experienced God’s presence in a small house in Mexico. Our group was on a mission trip and we were spending time worshipping God through music. As my eyes were closed and I was singing the words, it felt as if everyone else disappeared and I was before God’s throne. There’s nothing quite like that experience.

Unfortunately, there are some worship songs that can immediately snap me out of the moment. Like Threepio walking in on Han and Leia, there are some worship songs that can totally ruin the moment.

I readily admit that a lot of times my reaction to a song has more to do with my critical nature than with the inherent quality of the song. There are some secular songs I just don’t like and there are some worship songs that I just don’t like.

What course of action should we take, though, when a worship song has bad theology, uninteresting music or nonsensical lyrics? Is there room in modern Christianity to raise a critical eye to worship songs and judge their viability for a worship service?

The challenge in judging worship songs is thoroughly examining why we don’t like a particular song. There are a lot of worship songs we might not like simply because of their style or their age. When our only complaints are that a song is “lame” or “too old”, then we should probably get over ourselves and not allow the song to influence our ability to worship God.

If we have legitimate concerns, though, over a song’s theology, music or lyrics, then we need to learn how to have productive conversations. It’s important to have those conversations because God deserves to be correctly and excellently praised.

At church this weekend I had questions about a song’s theology that we sang. After our Friday night service I asked our worship pastor about the song and how he interpreted its theology. We had a good conversation that didn’t answer all of my questions, but it was a good start. I can only imagine how the conversation would have gone had I started out by saying, “That song’s dumb and I don’t think we should sing it anymore.”

God deserves songs that are correct in theology and musically and lyrically excellent. We can’t apply the same type of assembly line system which produced Rebecca Black’s “Friday” to worship songs. These are the songs that we’re bringing as our praise to the creator of the universe. If they don’t demand a critical and objective eye, then I don’t know what does.

Whether a song is exceptional or theologically sound, worshipping God mostly has to do with our hearts and posture. If we have the correct heart and a humble posture, we could sing “Yub Nub” and still manage to step into God’s presence.

How do you feel about judging worship songs?

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5 Responses to “#191 – Judging Worship”

  1. Chris Kamena Says:

    I know of a church whos congregation meets on Monday evening to question the pastor about his message and seek clarification about things that he said. I guess they could do the same with the worship pastor. I also know that I would be a better person if I was as critical of my own heart as I can be of a worship service.

    Having said that, I too was in church Friday night and chose to observe the call of nature during a song that has been bothering me. This ‘opt out’ method is probably a sign of my spiritual immaturity. I wonder if it was the same song you discussed above. I have nicknamed this particular song the “Hokey Pokey” song because there is a part in the middle that goes “to the left, to the left. To the right, to the right” and the worship team does moves with it. The first time I heard it I thought the next verse was going to be “put your left foot in… Shake it all about….” Anyway, I give you props for having a conversation about it and not opting out.

    There is much more to be said about this topic. Thanks for bring it up.

  2. So you’re the reason why we didn’t do the “go to the left” portion of Deep Cries Out on Sunday morning?!

    I do agree that we should always make sure our worship songs have good theology and if they don’t, we should question them. If a song comes out and says something contradictory to the Bible or our beliefs, we need to examine it and make sure it falls in line with what we want to say.

    I’m interested in knowing what’s bad theology about Deep Cries Out, though. It’s pretty much stating we’re going to follow Christ wherever He goes and shout and proclaim His name joyfully. I thought that’s what we were supposed to do? 😉

    I love that song! I guess I can see why some people wouldn’t like it though. I think it’s probably more of a preference of not wanting to “do the moves” and perhaps feeling it’s not appropriate in a church service. My husband isn’t a big fan of doing “movements” in church, and he just stands there during the song (but that’s pretty much because he doesn’t have any rhythm and grew up in an environment that didn’t do things like that in church, but mostly the rhythm thing, ha!) but he doesn’t have a problem with others doing it.

    He and I do actually have a love for the classic hymns too. It’s always good to see one of those in the mix once in awhile.

    • I don’t have anything against hand motions and I had nothing to do with their exclusion. Dancing is very theologically sound; David even did it in his underwear..

      In regards to that song, as far as the living water within us, I just wondered if that’s something we stir up or if that’s the work of the Holy Spirit. That was the thought I had.

  3. Something I remember years ago was that a former teacher while in chapel recalled getting a vision of demons singing the same songs we had been singing. At the time I thought she was a bit nutters. However in the years passing I can understand what she was trying to tell us. I feel as if there songs out there that have to be seen from a critical eye. I do agree that it has to be from the mindset of judging it against biblical truth and doctrine and not just personal taste. Though having since been attending my church I can understand how too much showmanship if not used correctly can be a distraction rather than an aid in worship. Going along I do feel as if worship songs need to viewed critically because if it isn’t upholding biblical truth I feel like it won’t be a sweet sound to God’s ears. For me the bottom line the heart of any worship song should always be that it extols God, his word, promote the movement of the Holy Spirit within us, encourage a heart and spirit of worship, and exalt God.

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