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Worship was designed by God to be all-inclusive. If you feel the worship in your church has become a performance rather than something you participate in, don’t let your spirit grow toxic.

Here are five ways to be proactive:

1. Check your attitude.
Fuming over your frustration only hurts you. If your worship leader senses your irritation, he or she may simply write you off. Your nonverbal cues come across louder than your speech patterns if you choose to complain.

Remember, there may be such a thing as a badly written worship chorus, but we cannot afford the luxury of a bad attitude about singing it.

2. Choose to pray.
It is amazing to me how effective the Holy Spirit is in marshalling our prayers into meaningful change — if we will simply take our concerns and hurts to the Lord rather than gossip about our dissatisfaction over worship style with others.

3. Challenge your heart.
Ask yourself if your displeasure is valid. Are you entering into the worship encounter each Sunday expecting to hear from the Lord — regardless of the song list? Have you asked God to soften your heart if you are beginning to resent the choices your worship leader is making each week?

Next week call on the Lord before entering the sanctuary. Ask Him for the freedom to worship regardless of the music.

4. Compose a response.
If you have measured your discontent, prayed about your frustration and still there is no resolution, then maybe you are being led to communicate with your pastoral leadership. Remember not to be defensive, aggressive or mean-spirited. Rather, in love, try to sense the leader’s perspective as you express yours.

Diplomacy is the call of the day. Compromise is the order.

5. Champion your pastors.
No one accepts an invitation to serve on a pastoral team with a malevolent desire to offend or damage a congregation’s response to worship. The challenge for a pastor or worship leader comes in trying to lead a congregation comprised of multiple generations, replete with varied backgrounds and tastes. There has to be a way to communicate your concerns about the style of worship and not offend the leader in the process.

Choosing to affirm rather than attack is a productive communication skill when the objective is to bring healing to a misunderstanding.

The misunderstanding of style over substance, relative to worship wars is, in essence, a misappropriation of balance. It is not that congregants do not like new songs. Rather, congregants like to be fed a balanced diet of spiritual nutrition. In the words of songwriter Paul Baloche, “A steady diet of doctrinal hymns is like too much filet mignon. But living on the repetitive four-line choruses is like making a meal of potato chips. Ideal is a mix!”

Bringing a truce to the contemporary worship war phenomenon is the right thing to do. Much is at stake.

Worship connects us to God and protects us from the adversary. When we worship free from distraction and animus we hear His voice clearly. Nothing in this world is more satisfying than being addressed by Jesus while we sing.

We are also protected from the lies of the enemy when we worship. Satan’s accusations cannot penetrate our worship when we offer it wholeheartedly. Doesn’t it stand to reason that Satan would want to keep the church fighting over style issues, rather than contend with the breakthrough that worship provides when believers are liberated from his shackles?

When God’s people grasp the spiritual potential of a worship encounter, I sincerely believe we will stop debating the relative veracity of one musical style over another and fall down to bask in God’s awesome presence. When Jesus is worshiped, He washes away our dissatisfaction. Our mountains melt like wax in His presence (Psalm 97:5).

Maybe it isn’t about us after all.


Tom McDonald, Ph.D., is commissioner on church worship for the Assemblies of God and director of the National Music Department.

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