Judd Harris
28 days ago

I'm Tired of Complaining About Worship Songs

Read time: 3 minutes

"When we acknowledge preference, we’re only being human. But when we elevate preference, we become idolaters."

Judd Harris leads Campus Community with the CollectiveYou’ve felt it before. You’re at church, coffee in hand, standing with your friends, listening to the worship pastor welcome everyone, and then it starts playing: your least favorite song in all of Christendom. And so, you almost instinctively think to yourself: “Why did they have to play this song?” and “Haven’t they heard the word ‘contemporary’?” or even “This song feels way too 90’s for me.” And then, the most dangerous thought of all crosses your mind: “I’ll just wait to worship until they play a song I like.”

This thought has reared its ugly head in every single one of our minds. I’m ashamed of how many times I’ve justified it to myself. We’ve all been there. But why do we find ourselves there so often? What is the real issue at hand? I mean, let’s be honest: preference is not inherently a bad thing. There is certainly something to be said about making good art for the Lord, and everyone has an artistic preference, especially when it comes to music. Some could even argue that taking preference into account is necessary for the worship pastor because of factors like relevance and congregational participation. And I believe that these are all valid concerns, but only to an extent. That extent should be decided based upon our humble consideration of Who this is all for. It is for God, not for us.

The problem I find with preference is that it is all too easily associated with the consumer mentality. When we acknowledge preference, we’re only being human. But when we elevate preference, we become idolaters. This is obviously not where we want to find ourselves, yet when we embrace the consumer mindset and put our favoritism at such a high station in our decision making, we put ourselves at that higher station as well. Our focus on preference is a focus on ourselves, not the King. And this is so problematic because worship is not something we consume: it’s something we do. It’s something we offer to God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, our Great Father, the Healer of souls (1 Chronicles 16:29).

Preference was never the call of the King on our lives (Isaiah 29:13). He tells us to die to self daily, and that’s not a natural predilection for humanity (Romans 8:5-6). We are meant to wage war against the flesh as Christians, yet so often we are content to let it win, like when we refuse to worship God based on something as silly as tempo and rhyme scheme. This will not do in the courts of Almighty God. He calls us to come as a child, and children are rarely cynical – they are filled with hope and joy just in knowing that they have a Father whose love knows no bounds. He calls us to enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise (Psalm 100: 1-5), not with our list of songs we are most fond of. If God’s love knows no boundaries for a people that rejected Him unto death, I think our ability to stomach a less-than-favorite song should be second nature.

"He calls us to come as a child, and children are rarely cynical – they are filled with hope and joy just in knowing that they have a Father whose love knows no bounds."

Because in reality, true words are still true whether they’re accompanied by a fast tempo or minor melody. And we could go around in circles debating whether old or new music is effective at reaching the lost or not. That’s just not the issue at hand. The issue is whether or not we are going to be content withholding from God what is truly His – our unabated, unashamed praise and worship through song – because of something as trivial and minor as what a song sounds like to us.

There’s still so much to be said about this topic, but the real end goal seems to be choosing content over style. True and biblical content that ascribes to the Lord the glory due His name is what we should be striving after (Psalm 29:1-11). The beauty of it all is that we can have songs that are catchy and Biblically sound, and many of those songs have already been written. Let us keep creating in that vein!

It’s time to stop making decisions about worship songs and our participation with them based on our own personal taste, preference, or opinion. I’m tired of complaining about worship songs because it wastes time that I could have spent praising the God who deserves the highest praise. So join with me in a humble effort to sing truth to the Father, regardless of tempo or rhyme.