Trends come and go, but they are strangely cyclical. I was just listening to 70’s classics on the radio, and I just finished a demo of a song that has a distinctively 80’s sound. Crazy! I’m seeing kids wearing checkerboard Vans shoes and neon colors again. The return of Christ must be right around the corner! It’s the end of the world as we know it! Or, is it just the beginning…[cue Twilight Zone music].
It’s true that trends come and go, but some things are always in fashion. There is such a thing as “classic style” in clothes, and food, and music. You’ve heard it said, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” I think that’s part of what this saying means. Some things remain universally important through time and space, even when the universe is spinning ever faster around us.
There has been much “discussion” about the music we use in worship services in the church. Throughout my life and career I have listened to this discussion, and it usually comes down to people’s preferences. Not often enough does the discussion turn to God’s preferences. After all, worship begins and ends with Him. It’s from Him, it’s about Him, and it returns to Him…and if not, it’s not the worship of God, but of something or someone else. Of course, the Scripture doesn’t give us a lot of insight into God’s musical preferences. But it does guide us into understanding what He wants from us when we gather to worship.
“Let the message of the Messiah dwell among you richly, teaching and encouraging one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.” [Colossians 3:16]
*We should focus on the message of the Messiah – “It’s all about You, Jesus.” Sing the gospel! Tell the story again and again and again.
*We should think of others before ourselves – “teaching and encouraging one another.” If you are a worship leader or pastor, you are leading your people to worship, but you are also teaching them how to worship.
*There should be variety in our music – “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.” Use the best of everything…old and new songs, and every style you can appropriate with excellence.
*And we should be grateful.
No matter what else changes, these things should remain the same.
As a worship leader in my church, I’ve been reminded again this week to let these principles guide my song choices for our worship services. And as a songwriter, I need to allow these principles to guide my creativity for the glory of God. I see myself as a bridge between the old and the new, the proven and the progressive. I wholeheartedly appreciate what the church has sung for generations past, and I hope to be one of many who are creating what the church will sing for generations to come.
The church of Jesus Christ will always sing. Let’s commit ourselves again to the goal of making every song count as a worthy offering to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is worthy! May our songs be offerings that please Him!
Kirk Kirkland is a pastor, worship leader and LifeWay Worship songwriter. He lives in Nashville, TN with his wife and three children and serves the people of Judson Baptist Church as the Minister of Music & Worship and the Pastoral Counselor. For a sample of his music at lifewayworship.com, click here.