I recently read a blog post from Worship Matters called, "A Salute to the Average Worship Leader". It seemed as if many of us found this post to be helpful, so I wanted to share it...along with some other thoughts that I have been thinking about after reading the article. As we continue to strive to be, above all things, faithful in how we facilitate worship at Harbor...remembering things like what is laid out in the article will be very important for us.
Along these same lines...I had some more thoughts that came into my head after our discussion on this topic yesterday. While I am fully aware that it is impossible for us to please everyone with our approach (and that pleasing people shouldn't even be our approach -- 1 Cor. 10:31) it is important for us to remember that contextualization is an important and useful tool in advancing the gospel. Paul, in his first letter to the church in Corinth said the following:
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. | 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (ESV)
As we approach worship, I believe that we may need to do so in different ways, depending on the audience we are attempting to reach/serve. This is exactly what Paul is saying in this passage...well almost exactly. He isn't talking specifically about worship, but when we worship we have the same goal in mind as Paul did in his work as an apostle. We want to see people's hearts softened to the gospel. Paul said, to the Jews, he became as a Jew. To those under the law...he became as one under the law. What we can see here is that our worship songs, our musical style (i.e. traditional, contemporary, rock, hymns etc) the way we dress (dressed up or dressed down), and maybe even the way we talk....will look different depending on who we are trying to reach.
Paul saw great value in this approach to ministry. For him it wasn't about pragmatism or cultural conformity. Paul never became something un-biblical in his efforts to reach the lost. However, as we mature and grow in our understanding of the Harbor body, whom we are called to serve, it will be important for us to approach our worship holistically. Are we doing all we can to help facilitate worship for the unique people group whom we have been called to serve? And when we travel to our different outside events as The King's Pardon, are we making efforts to know our audience in order to reach them uniquely...by becoming as an inmate, as an addict or as a teenager?
For me, this is an area where God continues to stretch me and no doubt he may be stretching some of you as well. In order for us to reach people with the gospel, we too must be willing to "become all things to all people", that "by all means we might save some". We do this "for the sake of the gospel"...that we may also be able to "share with them in its blessings". And our effort is the same in all of it...namely to glorify God in all that we do.
Stay Faithful & Keep Growing,