I seem to get into a spot of trouble when I write about this topic, but it riles me so much that here it is, fully public instead of shared among a few social network connections.
I don’t have a problem with personal preference and favourite artists, but it really upsets me when I hear people being incredibly disrespectful to particular genres, styles or worship leaders (presumably, brothers and sisters in Christ) because they’re deemed “irrelevant”.
I also don’t like hearing music being described as for a certain “type” of person.
When I hear a worship leader (particularly) saying stuff like this, it makes me think that he/she has a blinkered perspective on not only the type of musical expression that’s fit for presentation to God, but also of people in general.
I’m sure the battle between styles has been going on for centuries, but I wonder if it’s been made so much worse by the advent of mass communication, social networks, music sharing across the Internet, and the near-ubiquitous music talent show.
Don’t hear me wrong. I do believe that worship leaders can skilfully craft sets of music that create an authentic experience for a particular group of people at a particular time. And, granted, sometimes we do have to make some stylistic decisions based on some form of stereotypes.
Yes, it is likely that the general worship style for a large group of teenagers is going to be different from that aimed at older adults. And yet again, providing for a diverse mix often associated with main Sunday meetings is a challenge again.
What worries me is when I hear people dismissing “worship leader X” or “style Y”, while at the same time raving almost unquestioningly about “new worship leader A” or “funky (download) style B” and, by implication (sometimes even explicitly) suggesting that the former leaders and styles are “irrelevant”.
Does that attitude truly please God?
Does it help people who do like worship leader X or style Y to engage with God?
Does it help people who think they only like “new worship leader A” or “funky (download) style B” to experience new forms of worship and, possibly, to expand their experience of worship and, ultimately, their relationship with God?
I get that local churches have many different ‘flavours’, and that can be good — it’s part of unity without uniformity. But in that, we need to be mindful — particularly if we have any position of authority in worship — of our responsibility to the people of God, and not just the subset we might most readily choose to associate with.
We don’t have to like every style of worship, and not every style is right for each congregation, but let’s have some respect for every genuine outpouring of praise and adoration that flows from earth to heaven.