Church is awesome. It’s the place to be encouraged, to learn, to build each other up. To make friends and find our support. To sing and pray and rejoice and mourn and find a weird and wonderful family to help us run the race to the end.
But as most of us know, it can also be really hard work. People are difficult, egos can be big, pride is everywhere and misunderstanding can lead to division and pain. This isn’t new either. Paul writes to churches in Corinth and phillipi who have a lot of issues and problems to work through.
Because churches are ultimately full of sinners, and where sinners are, problems exist.
One friction we see a lot of comes from differences in musical style.
And let’s face it, is that a surprise? Even within a normal family, there are different music tastes. Take mine for instance. My dad loves marching bands. Anything he can drum along with on the arms of his chair. My mum loves old school Christian cheese. And between my siblings and I we like anything from Schumann to folk to electronic rock to 90s pop.
So why do we expect our churches to all love one particular style of music when it comes to singing together?
Now of course we can’t keep everyone happy, and actually in the end what we need to be encouraging our churches to do, is to sing out together for the love of Jesus even if they hate the songs, but also I reckon there’s a challenge for those of us who maybe have more control over choice and style of music. Are we trying to serve the stylistic demographic of our churches? Or just do what we want to do?
The vicar at my old church used to say that in a service, everyone should like a couple of songs, and hate a couple, and that an onlooker shouldn’t be able to tell which are which.
What an aim hey?! Got a church with lots of oldies who love hymns? Do a hymn or two! (Do a hymn or two regardless.. the young ones need them too..!). By all means do them in a modern style, but try to love those oldies!
Or vice versus, in a church of mainly young? Listen to them. See if you can play great songs arranged in a style they might appreciate. Anything to help people hear and sing words that brings glory to Jesus
It is such a lesson in humility. Because surely one of the best things about being in control of the music is to be able to do what you want, right? Wrong.. you’re there to love your congregation. No matter how wacky they are.
But here is one thing this issue has made me love about the Lord. I’ve had my share of cantankerous church family who begrudge any change and yearn for the olden days. I’ve also had plenty of ones who think their taste in music is thee definitive taste and anything else is pointless. And everything in between.
And while it is frustrating and often discouraging, I love what it shows about the Lord
We serve a Lord who created everything good, and all variety, in beauty, in music, in humour, in taste. Isn’t it great that we have different opinions of what is beautiful and what is exciting or worthwhile? Isn’t individuality awesome? Wouldn’t it be so dull to live in a world where everyone was like you? Because, as awkward as it can be, diversity in taste reveals an unbelievable power, imagination we can’t even begin to comprehend, joy inconceivable, beauty unseen, glory untouched, and a God that just has depths beyond anything we can grasp. And we have eternity ahead to explore that in all its fullness.
I can’t WAIT for that. I can’t wait for the new creation, where I will happily belt out some dubstep or Bach or rap (or whatever the infinitely better heavenly equivalent will be) with my perfect brothers and sisters with no sin in my heart, no resentment or smug superior judgment. I can’t wait to see the glory of redemption displayed in that little aspect.
And isn’t it great to try and recreate a little of that picture now?
So let’s love and serve our churches in our music choices. And rejoice in our awesome God with his amazingly diverse creation.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:1-11