Worship Roots

Worship Roots (by Guest Blogger Mario Delgado)

When I became a Christian in the late 1980’s, I was unaware of the neverending battle that occurs in churches over music styles in worship. For the first year or so of my walk with Christ I was immune to the infamous “worship wars” that was occuring at the time. The first church I ever attended was a traditional Southern Baptist Church that utilized a hymn book, had a choir, and hosted a yearly Christmas cantata. Through the influence of my worship pastor at the time I developed an appreciation for the classic hymns of the faith. Of course as a teenager, I also discovered Christian music, and soon learned that my hometown in Southern California was the birthplace of some of the most influential music that came out of the Jesus movement of the 1970’s. Groups like The 2nd Chapter of Acts, Keith Green, and Larry Norman had a direct impact to the music I began listening to as a new Christian (dcTalk, Newsboys, and Carman).

I share a little bit of my musical heritage because I think we all share something in common. Ironically, our commonality is in our uniqueness. Let me explain… The Church is made up of individuals from every tribe and tongue. Right now, on the other side of the world someone is singing songs of praise to the Lord in a language that may be unfamiliar to us. Regardless of the dialect, however, the name of the Lord is being praised. Each one of us who attend Randall Church come from different backgrounds, but as we gather together on a weekly basis, these differences are the roots of our praises to God. We are a multigenerational church that has been blessed with a never-ending stream of music that details the rich heritage of our faith.

When it comes to singing and worshipping at Randall Church, it’s important to mention up front that singing together as a church, or as they say in a corporate setting, is actually a fraction of what worship actually consists of. Yes, music has always been an important part of the Church since the time of the apostles (Philippians 2:6-11, Ephesians 5:19), but so has reading the Scriptures, prayer and taking care of those in need (Acts 2:42). If you want to know what worship really looks like consider what Jesus said when asked what the greatest commandment is: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:29-30, NIV). According to Jesus, worship is about knowing and loving God in every facet of our lives. If we come to church on a Sunday and think that worship begins when the first note of the an instrument is heard we have gravely misunderstood the relationship that we should be having with Jesus on a daily basis when there is no music playing.

With this in mind, let me share two of the practical aspects of singing and worshipping that I consider on a weekly basis. First of all, when it comes to song choice, it’s important to me to choose songs that strengthen and deepen our understanding of God’s character. The longest book of the Bible, Psalms, is filled with songs that cover the full spectrum of the human experience. Within the Psalms we find songs that are outright declarations of God’s glory (Psalm 115); songs that that deal with suffering and shame (Psalm 74, Psalm 51); and songs that praise God for His activity on the earth (Psalm 97). In the same way, the songs we sing together should be celebratory, contemplative, and theologically sound. The battle lines that were drawn in the 20th century worship wars are a novelty when we ask ourselves one simple question: “Is there spiritual depth to the songs we sing?”

Now, if you’re like me and are moved by the artistic qualities of music and lyrics then there is an emotional aspect to worship that will be important to you. We must not forget, however, that God has not wired all of us the same and that some are moved more by the theological ideas expressed in our singing than by a particular music style. The Psalms make allowances for both of these worship attitudes. This is why we try to blend our singing with modern and classic songs of praise that we can sing together as a community of believers.

The importance of community is what drives the second aspect of singing and worshipping at Randall that I would like to share. Our worship should be accessible to all. Have you ever been to a church service where the key of a song is so high that you just give up singing all together? Or what about being in a service where the worship leader is always trying to teach a new song and you actually disengage from the time set aside for corporate worship? If I’m being honest, I’m guilty of being on both sides of this coin. This is why we do our best to sing songs in keys that people can comfortably sing. When it comes to learning new songs, I do my best to keep it to one or two a month. At Randall we actually have a song set-list that consist of 25-30 songs which we will sing over a three to four month period. This allows our congregation to become familiar and comfortable singing a set of songs over that time period.

Why do we do this? Because we value community! In their book, Sing, Keith and Kristyn Getty express this well. They write, “A church that sings together - across generations, standing side by side, putting community unity before personal preferences - is making a powerful and attractive statement to those who yearn for community more authentic than can be enjoyed online.” Wow, what a powerful statement to consider as we think about living in the age of social media. There is nothing that can diminish the authenticity of believers from different backgrounds coming together in a church service to lift up and sing about the wonders and glory of our God! Praise God for the opportunity we have to worship Him not only through our lives, but also through or fellowship together.

- Mario


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