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Worship Wars

Posted by Brantley Vosler on

“For years we’ve read about or experienced firsthand the “worship wars’” — conflicts over music styles, song selections, and drums. But far too little has been said about the worship wars going on inside of us, and they’re much more significant.” – Bob Kauflin

I’ve heard a rumor going around about the capital “C” Church that there can be rifts and arguments that tear Christians apart over music. I say, “I’ve heard,” because for the most part I have been lucky enough to be sheltered and protected from the front lines of these so called “worship wars.” Neither at my previous church nor at GBC have there been big divides over petty arguments about music that I have had to deal with.

Still, there have been times in the past when I have seen the aftereffects of a church’s “worship wars”. I have witnessed disunity and confusion even among the closest Christian brothers and sisters over issues of music.

Music is a powerful thing. Music can cut through a heart like a knife, but it can also harden a heart to stone.  It is unique in a way that few other things are.  With that kind of power, we might be tempted to simply ignore church music altogether, but it is far too important for that. Music can be a remarkably beautiful and significant thing when we sing some of the core truths of the Gospel with brothers and sisters.  Plus, scripture commands us dozens of times in the Psalms to, “sing to the Lord.”

So, we cannot ignore this powerful, beautiful tool, but we should regularly take a step back and realize that any worship war conversations are never fundamentally about music.  Those issues are always in the context of an infinitely bigger war.

Here’s a metaphor that may help us understand: It’s kind of like a gang war on the streets of New York in the year 1942. Now, your first thought is to think… “Wow!  What a specific way to start a metaphor?!” And I would agree with you… but remember what was happening in 1942? World War II! Frankly, I have no idea if there were any gang wars in New York in 1942…I looked it up to make sure there actually were gangs in 1942 and there most definitely were… but lets pretend that they were battling with each other for the sake of my absolutely brilliant, flawless metaphor… Don’t you think those minor skirmishes could have been solved if they took a step back and realized that ultimately they were on the same team and that there was much more at stake than this block or that one? Don’t you think things would have been different if they started gathering around the much larger causes that were far more important? Of course they would have.

The truth is that whether we know it or not, we are daily on the front lines of an infinitely more significant battle than song selection or lighting choices or any other petty church thing that we can argue. This “worship war” that can rage inside each of us can reveal a much deeper issue.  If we aren’t careful, our preferences can become our idols, and there is no such thing as an acceptable idol.

These kind of idols are not as obvious as bowing down to a golden cow or not. It’s much more complex because the battlefield is inside of our own hearts and the idols can change shape. Today, it could be money or materialism. Tomorrow, it could be comfort or our reputation. What can get really confusing is when we worship something good that God created before we worship Him. We can easily worship friendships, families or dare I say it- even our own churches. Anything that we love more than God is an idol that we must battle to remove from our lives and replace it with love for God.

My prayer for GBC is not so much that we will not discuss music in our church services or that we will not pay attention to details… in fact I am excited to have some of those conversations. My prayer is that we would be a people who recognize that we are daily on the front lines against idolatry in our own lives and in each others lives. My prayer is that we would fight against every single lie that could try to divide us and ruin our unity. My prayer is that we would gather to sing every Sunday as just a small part of our ceaseless worship.

The amazing thing is we get to worship a God that is better than all that other stuff anyway. He is the only one that is actually worth worshipping. May GBC be a Church body that becomes more in love with who God is and as a result gives everything we have to the only God that deserves it.


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