Diversity in Worship

Updated: Oct 31, 2020

Perhaps you've asked the question, "Is it important how we worship?". I know I have! As I plan our worship services there are many things that I consider, and one of them is diversity. Music, style, and form are just a few things that offer multiple variations. But is this important? Do we need to have diversity in worship?

The author and professor, Harold Best, offers some great insight into this question. If you have not read his book, "Music Through the Eyes of Faith", I highly recommend it to you. Best is a scholar on theology and worship and his books have been very formative for me personally. Regarding musical diversity, Best writes...

The Scriptures include or allude to just about every approach to worship there is: organized, spontaneous, public, private, simple, complex, ornate or plain. Yet there is no comment anywhere about any one way being preferred over another. Rather, it is the spiritual condition of the worshiper that determines whether or not God is at work. This fact alone countermands the tendency to assume that if we could just find the correct or fashionably relevant system, all will be well and God will come down. This doesn't imply that we have no responsibility to make intelligent and sensitive choices or to be creative. But whatever these choices eventually are, they are incapable all by themselves of establishing the superiority of one system over another. —Harold Best, Music through the Eyes of Faith, 146

The notion that one form of music is more worshipful or holy than another is a fallacy. As Best writes, the posture of the heart of the worshiper is what the Lord considers. Now, are there certain forms of music that will possibly hinder worship? I believe a case could be made for that, but that is an exception, not the norm.

Often, I see people elevate their preferred music style over another, and that usually manifests itself in an attitude of "higher worship", or conversely, "lower worship" that is done by the inferior music style.

We should be careful as Christians to attribute holiness to a particular sound or style. One instrument is no more holy than another (Best writes on this in "Music Through the Eyes of Faith"). We can present beautiful music to the Lord and at the same time be far away from Him because of the position of our heart. Music does not bring us closer to the Lord. True worship is a humbling of the heart, offered through the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we consider biblical worship, scripture tells us to have diversity in worship (references below). Musical diversity helps to ensure that a church body doesn't become locked into a certain shape or form, thus allowing people of different backgrounds and cultures to participate with fellow believers.

Diversity of music will help encourage a diversity of worshipers!

Every nation, tribe, and tongue is present in the heavenly scene of worship. Diversity in music will help us join with brothers and sisters that are different than us, calling us to unite together in worship. Diversity of music will also cultivate intergenerational worship, and that's a very important aspect of corporate worship.

So worship pastor, music leader, church member; let us consider diversity in worship as a means to glorify God!

Scripture references

Colossians 3:16

Revelation 7:9

Hebrews 12:28-29

Ephesians 5:19

Psalm 96:1

Mark 7:7-8

Colossians 2:8

John 4

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