Tag Archives: Worship Wars

Wineskins and Worship Wars

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

“Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Matt. 9:17

old-wineskin“Worship style” definitely gets the prize for being the most troublesome issue dividing churches today.  I believe it is troublesome because it hits many of us at a pretty deep level.  We each have our preferred “language” for worship, and these worship wars have a way of calling into question the legitimacy of my “language”.  I’ve mentioned this in previous posts here and here and here, but our questioning each other’s worship style is a little reminiscent of the money-changers questioning the legitimacy of each person’s sacrifice.

In Jesus’ much-studied conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well (John chapter 4), he is asked a pointed question about the appropriate time and place to worship God. For those of us who are struggling even now with “worship style” issues, this woman’s question is a prime example of a “worship style” question.  Jesus’ response, that “a time is coming” when God’s restrictions on time, place and form would no longer be central to worship, seems to me to be a clear signal that an important change was about to happen. Jesus’ remarks in Matthew chapter 9 about “new wine” and “new wineskins” seem to signal the same thing: a profoundly new way of relating to God.

Isn’t that what Pentecost (Acts 2) represented? Wasn’t it the ushering in of an entirely new way of relating to God? Surely, Jesus’ teaching to the woman at the well that God is seeking …

Maybe Worship Style Is Not the Issue

Tuesday Re-mix: This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Gathered worship is about approaching the throne of grace together. That’s what makes it a very different experience from personal worship. In gathered worship, the Spirit of the very God I come to worship lives in my co-worshiper. That makes relationships critical to gathered worship. When I look across the congregation and see my dear friend profoundly expressing his love for the Lord, it doesn’t matter so much whether I’m loving the music, because my dear friend clearly is. I worship because he is worshiping. All that matters at that point in time is how I feel about God and how I feel about my friend. That is enough.

So here is a bottom line: if relationships among worshipers are everything God wants them to be, worship style will not be an issue. If relationships among worshipers are broken or non-existent, it will not matter what worship style you choose. It will be wrong.

A word to my worship leader friends: spend less time worrying about whether to program hymns or choruses and more time invested in creating Biblical relationships among your worshipers.

© Blake Coffee

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Languages of Worship

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and rerun for your consideration and comments.

Imagine this: you feel inspired to adopt a few children. You’ve always wanted a larger family and your (and your spouse’s) heart is breaking for the children around the world who are in need of Godly parents. So, you adopt one Chinese child, one Russian child, and one child who is hearing impaired. For now, each of them only speaks their language (Chinese, Russian, and sign). It’s your first night all together at the dinner table. You, your spouse and your three new children are all seated, staring at one another over a pot roast lovingly prepared by you. Here is my question: what language(s) will you speak at the table?

Maybe the more important question, the one more pertinent for the purposes of this post, is this: will you love these children enough to learn some words in their respective language(s), or will you coldly refuse to learn a single word in their language and just wait for them to learn yours?

Worship styles are like that. They are learned languages. In many cases, they are the only “worship” language spoken by some individuals. Whether or not I am willing to learn the language spoken by my brother is really just a question of how badly I want to communicate with him. Do I love him enough to want to learn his language?

The world is becoming smaller, and there are literally thousands of “languages of worship” around the world. For a local body of worshipers who are at all open to new worshipers joining them, it is becoming more and more impossible to limit worship to only one language (i.e., only one style). As new church members color the …

Quit Griping and Just Worship. Seriously.

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and submitted for your consideration and comments.

I miss having children’s art on my refrigerator. I’m between seasons for that (kids are too old but no grandchildren yet). I always loved getting the artwork from them after they had spent hours creating them. I had a lot of responses when I got them, but here are some things I NEVER said: What, are you kidding? You call that a portrait? Can’t you even draw a face right? This doesn’t even remotely resemble our house. This is not a good tree at all.  This is not good enough. I don’t want this. Can you even imagine a parent responding that way?

I can’t either. Nor can I even imagine God looking down at the heart of one of his children and saying these same kinds of things about their worship efforts…not any longer, not under the new covenant where “true worshipers” worship “…in Spirit and in truth” as opposed to form and place.  I just don’t think God gets nearly as stressed about worship styles as we do.

As a church mediator, I have to tell you, I’ve just about had my fill of the fighting over worship styles. Contemporary versus traditional: which one is better? I think I have memorized every verse of each side’s battle hymn (or chorus). They’re too shallow. They aren’t genuine. They sing the same words over and over again. They’re too stale. They aren’t user-friendly. Their hands are in the air. Their hands are in their pockets.  They have frowns on their faces when they worship. They preach too long. They preach too short. They don’t do an altar call. They don’t take an offering. They take too many offerings. They stand too