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17 Sep '09

Worship Music: For Christ Followers or Seekers?

Posted by T.J. Addington in church, evangelicalism, worship

As my own church has tried but failed to articulate a philosophy of music and worship for the past ten years - they are still trying - I have reflected on the purpose of worship in the church.

Fundamentally worship is for those who follow Jesus. That may seem obvious but I believe that it is not clear in many congregations that are trying to attract seekers. I believe that much worship direction is focused more on those who the congregation is trying to attract than it is on those who actually know Christ.

If so, that is an amazing shift from what I believe Scripture would say about worship. Only those who know that God of the universe can truly worship the God of the Universe and whether in the Old Testament or New the purpose of worship is to honor, praise and connect with the One whom we love and serve.

This leads me to a second observation. Different believers connect with God and worship him through different types of worship. Thus when we do not honor those different styles and offer different styles we are essentially excluding those whose style is not represented.

It seems to me that we are so concerned about "attracting" new people to our congregations that in many cases that focus overshadows the central focus of worship which is to help Christ followers within the church worship the God of the universe in ways that work for them. When that happens we have shifted the true focus of worship to an improper focus of worship and it is the worship of God's people that gets lost in the refocus.

The reveal study has made it abundantly clear that our lack of focus on the needs of God's people to grow and mature is the cause of many leaving the church today. Is it possible that our obsession with bringing new people into our church actually forces Christ followers to leave the church?

This is complicated when church leaders focus on one demographic to the exclusion of other demographics. In many churches the focus on reaching seekers through their style of worship has a detrimental affect on existing believers in the church who don't connect with that particular style.

I believe that that seekers are attracted to the genuine love, unity and heart worship of those they see around them. The more genuine and real the worship of God's people, the more that seekers will be attracted. But, this is the distinction, the focus is not on seekers but on believers - they are the only ones who can truly worship God.

We have complicated what should be simple. Worship is for believers and believers need options today in worship styles. Seekers will be attracted to Christ not because they hear their style of music but because they encounter God in the people, love, unity of God's people and the truth they hear from His word.