I have difficulty worshipping in my church because of the music. What do I do?
The Bible prescribes certain elements for when the Church gathers for worship. These elements include:
- Regular meeting (Hebrews 10:25)
- Preaching (2 Timothy 4:2)
- Baptism and the Lord's Table (Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34)
- Prayer (1 Timothy 2:1)
- Reading Scripture (1 Timothy 4:13)
- Financial giving (1 Corinthians 16:2)
- Singing and music (Colossians 3:16)
Scripture also gives principles that must govern our worship. These principles are:
- Worship is directed to the Lord (Psalm 95:1)
- It is for God and His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) not that of the worshipper. Our objective is to please Him, not make oneself feel happily inspired
- Worship is to be sincere and truthful coming from a pure heart (Mark 12:33)
- Worship should edify others and build them in their faith (Romans 15:5-6)
These principles indicate that worship is centred on God and others. So a good question to ask is whether your difficulty in worship is because your focus is on yourself instead of God or edifying others.
Beyond these elements and principles the Bible doesn't give us direction as to style or instrumentation for church and worship music. As long as we follow the biblical principles, we are free to choose different styles and instruments. Throughout history Christians have worshipped with instruments and music reflecting their time and culture.
Here's where the problem comes in: No two individuals are the same. Choice about music is a matter of taste, preference, and culture. Although we may say one style (usually the one we choose) is more God-honouring than the one we don't like, in reality a note is a note is a note. If the biblical principles are being followed it all boils down to a matter of personal preference and choice. The conflict comes over whose tastes we are following.
Does this mean anything goes? In addition to the principles given above, 1 Corinthians 11-14 teaches that corporate worship is to be intelligible, orderly, and for the edification of the body. The music used is a servant to the message it is carrying. While music itself isn't sinful I believe some styles of music don't fit a corporate worship context.
We like to think God prefers the same kind of music we do. But is that true? What kind of music does God prefer? Actually, what God prefers has nothing to do with the music—it has to do with the condition of our hearts. Worship is not primarily for us, it is offered to God. As well, worship is not supposed to be a performance by a few with the rest acting as spectators. God has the entire universe declaring His glory. What He wants from us is praise and adoration from loving, grateful, sincere, and humble hearts.
When planning congregational worship, church leaders need to take into account that churches are a melting pot of diversity. Styles and instrumentation should be chosen to reflect the makeup of the congregation. If smaller groups such as youth or seniors gather themselves for worship, they are free to use styles they prefer.
As individuals we should strive for balance in musical preferences. And we should appeal for that in our churches “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3 NASB). Like food, some music is an acquired taste.
If none of this is possible then your only other choice is to worship where your preferences more closely match that of the church. And then hope your tastes don't change.
I hope this helps.