Recently I had an opportunity to preach at a small church in Southeast Ohio. It was amazing! I was able to meet new people, experience a different setting, and see a different way to do church.
Prior to me preaching there, I knew that they did church somewhat differently. This church was more of a traditional church with hymns, responsive readings, and doxology. The church I currently serve at plays songs by Elevation, Hillsong, Bethel, etc.
The town that the church was in was a town of about 1,700 which is much smaller than I’m used to. Altogether this was very much culture shock but pleasingly eye opening. Since I knew that the worship at this church was going to be different, I began to ask questions to the people around me as to whether hymns were better for a Sunday gathering or if contemporary music was a better fit? As you can guess I received a wide variety of answers. Some people believed that Hymns were the only way to do worship and others thought that contemporary was the standard and to them, hymns didn’t reach that standard. Another person thought that we should do both as to not upset anyone and serve both the long time attendee and the younger generation. This sounded like the best answer yet until a close friend who was raised in both cultures made a profound point.
He pointed out that both were worship to God, one was not above the other. Then he continued and pointed out that our call is to make disciples of all nations, that we need to reach our community and those around us. As a worship leader, he wants to bring everyone into an encounter with God whether that is the lifelong Christian or someone who has never experienced Christ before. He wants to bring people to a deeper level of relationship with God and to a deeper level of worship. Hymns are great for those who grew up singing them but the question is, is it great for someone who is stepping into a church for the first time? Hymns are just as worshipful to God as contemporary worship is and vice versa. The wrong question is, whether or not one is more worshipful to God than the other. The right question is, which style of worship will bring a first-time guest to an encounter with God?Let’s not let our preferences get in the way of what God wants to do in someone’s life.
When we go on long term missions we try to learn the country’s language, we dress like them, and we play/listen to the same music as them. We do everything to bridge the gap between us and them. Why in our local context would we not do the same? Why would we make others bridge the gap to us?
In every part of our life, we should be bridging the gap to the lost. To make them build the bridge is contrary to the Gospel.
Let’s start building bridges.
Photo by Michelle Jimenez