Josh Philpot

Theology, the Church, and Music

Face the Music

with 4 comments

Mike Wittmer recently posted a nice reflection about worship styles in our church services that I found encouraging: 

Read 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

So, my dear brothers and sisters, when you gather for the Lord’s Supper, wait for each other (v. 33).

The wise pastor told his new worship director, “There is one style of music I hope you never play in our church.” She grabbed a pen and asked, “What is it?” He replied, “I will never tell you. If we all insist on getting our own way, we will never sing anything.”

Few issues are more controversial in church than music. Some churches solve the problem by providing two worship options, a traditional service for older folks and a contemporary one for those who enjoy more upbeat music. This often keeps both groups happy, but at some cost.

Marva Dawn warns, “it is utterly dangerous for churches to offer choices of worship styles.” She says it divides the church, treats Christians as consumers whose tastes must be catered to, and robs us of the opportunity to serve our neighbor. We should rejoice when a tune is sung that we don’t like, for that is an opportunity to deny ourselves for the sake of our brother or sister (Matthew 16:24). When veteran saints try to learn a new chorus or young people sing an old hymn both are saying to the other, “This may not be my cup of tea, but I’m willing to make room for you. I will sing along for your sake, and the whole church will benefit.” Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we are unwilling to do this during worship, when do we think we ever would? (Mark 12:29-31).

God expects there will be variety in our worship services. He made us different, and He says that Spirit filled believers will variously sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…making music to the Lord in your hearts” (Ephesians 5:19). Our great God deserves to be praised by the widest variety of worshipers and styles. Keep your preference, and keep it to yourself.


Written by Josh Philpot

May 12, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Posted in Worship

4 Responses

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  1. Josh, Fun connection. Dr. Wittmer was my advisor for my master’s work and a good friend. 🙂 Keep up the good work.


    May 13, 2014 at 12:43 am

  2. Nice! I met Dr. Wittmer at ETS a couple of years ago. Great guy. I really enjoy his writing too.

    Josh Philpot

    May 13, 2014 at 2:27 am

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