A few weeks ago my family and I were driving over into Idaho to spend a weekend at the lake. We drove in the pouring rain, following the windy and pot-holed interstate between Missoula and Coeur d'Alene. Right before you drive over Fourth of July pass there is a big opening in the mountain valley. There is a large wetland area, a river to the south, and beautiful mountains on all sides. But on this day it was especially beautiful. The three days of rain had made everything surrounding us radiate different and distinct shades of green, and the clouds, which hung low across the landscape, brought an even and heavy light to the whole picture.
As we were driving though this stretch we all started singing along with what was playing on the stereo. "Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace." It wasn't planned. We don't claim to be the Vonn Trapps, but the glimpses of beauty we were seeing had stirred in us the desire to worship. In that moment my attention was shifted from the landscape created by God, to the timeless truths about God: truths that were captured in a song and given to us for the purpose of worship and joy.
but the glimpses of beauty we were seeing had stirred in us the desire to worship.
I am not an overly musical guy. Most of the time my radio is turned off or tuned to a sports talk show. I haven't played an instrument since my junior year of high school, and my ability to tell major and minor scales apart is nonexistent. But I am overly grateful for those whom God has given these gifts and chosen to combine them with a theological mind and a heart for the gospel.
I am grateful for the people in our congregation who serve at the weekend services, Redemption groups and Grizzly Christian Fellowship; people who use their musical skills to lead the rest of us in worship through music.
I have sat in churches, camps and chapels of all kinds. I have heard rock music, classical music, bluegrass, grunge, and jazz. But above all else I am moved by worship music. I'm not saying that you can't worship with rock, bluegrass or jazz, but I am saying that you have to present something worshipful in order to create worship music. As a church we want to provide a message that demands Christ-Centered worship.
I'm not saying that you can't worship with rock, bluegrass or jazz, but I am saying that you have to present something worshipful in order to create worship music.
As a pastor and as a Christian I know the beauty of finding a song which maximizes theology, creativity and singability. I also know the joy of finding people in your congregation who desire to use all three of these attributes and present their skills as a gift to the church.
So here is my request to our congregation: raise more worship leaders. I'm no musician, but I am a man who appreciates good music. I am also a pastor who knows the power that God has given us in music, and I wish to tie that gift to the greatness of God's self-revelation in the Bible. Here are a few quick pointers that might help us raise more worship leaders:
Frame Things Theologically
Teach your children that "every good and perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17). Teach them that no gift is meant as an end in itself. God gives people gifts so that we can use them to glorify and preach the truth of Jesus, the author and perfector of our souls. Music is a large influencer in our culture, and it has been and will remain a large influencer in our churches. Music always worships, it is just a matter of what the object of that worship is. Teach your children to write lyrics which exalt Christ. Teach them to play instruments which delight the Lord. Teach them to perform not for the praise of men but out of the praise of a glorious risen Savior.
Teach your children that "every good and perfect gift is from above" (James 1:17)
Expose Them to Good Worship Music
Expose them to the beautiful songs of the church's past. Let them dwell in the simple depth of "Amazing Grace." Preach to them a God worthy of a tune as classic as "How Great Thou Art." Encourage them with the modern gospel-centered lyrics from Matt Redman, David Crowder and the like. Give them modern songs, old songs, updated hymns, hip-hop, gospel, and bluegrass. Teach them that worship has less to do about music and more to do about a heart overflowing in love and repentance, joy and celebration. Stress to them the importance of music built specifically for the church: meaning songs which lend themselves to corporate worship rather than pure performance and content.
Don't only show them music, encourage them to learn music. Play an instrument, join the school choir, write poems, use your God given creativity as a means of gospel proclamation.
Show Them Christ's Majesty
Instill in your children the beauty of Christ, the treasure of the gospel, and you will raise them with an uncontrollable urge to worship. When you read the Bible, you see story after story where after people have had an experience with God, they spontaneously break out in worship. This is because the sheer nature of who God is demands that he be worshipped. We don't need to tell them why they should worship Christ, we just need to show them Christ. The worship will follow.
I have been blessed, and you have been blessed, by faithful songwriters, singers and musicians who have used the gifts God has given them for the service of the gospel. Let's be a generation who raises Christians who do the same.