Worship Styles

I cannot lie: I have a lot of faults and flaws. I think it’s important to recognize that and to be conscious of so that you can continually work on them. One that has been on my mind is my opinion on worship style.

I love, love, love traditional worship. I absolutely love hymns and liturgy. I love when there’s chanting and when the pastor is wearing robes. I love the sound of an organ filling a sanctuary. I’ve heard people claim it’s too stuffy and forced and rigid, but I love that. In my opinion, God is worthy of this formal, rule-abiding worship style: guiding when you stand, when you sit, what you say and how you say it.

On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s okay to have a preference over worship style. I don’t care what your preference is (I’d love for you to tell me; I just mean that I won’t judge or think less of you for liking one or the other). It’s not a competition nor is it a relationship-defining part of a person.

My problem begins when I refuse to acknowledge contemporary worship as worship for me. I’m pretty stubborn. Anyone who knows me personally can probably vouch for that. Some things I can let go easily, but when it’s important to me? Don’t think I’ll be backing off anytime soon. Unfortunately for me, the traditional/contemporary topic is one of these.

While I have no problem acknowledging that people who go to contemporary worship services are truly worshiping God and participating in the Lord’s Supper with the body of believers, when I go to a contemporary worship service, I leave feeling like I need to go to church.

That’s not right, and that’s my stubborn, sinful self getting in the way.

I’m in a Bible study called “Facedown Worship” by Donna Pyle. It’s a study of Psalm 95:6-7:

Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker! For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.

One of the things Pyle brings up early on are the distractions we face that get in the way of worship, for example, worship style.

In our humanity, worship styles easily distract us and we tend to decide whether or not to participate in worship only if the church service is laid out to our personal preference.

Yup. That’s pretty true for me. And pretty terrible of me. Pyle says

It matters little to God whether or not our corporate worship follows a certain man-made guideline. … When the method of worship becomes more important than who we worship, we’ve missed the point altogether.

Talk about condemnation…

This is all a reminder to me that I need to work on this aspect (and probably most aspects) of my stubbornness.

My husband and I are 44 days away from finding out where we will be sent on his vicarage. There’s a chance that we will get sent to a church that practices contemporary worship. This would probably be a good experience for me to give me practice in a contemporary setting.

I don’t think that I’ll ever say I prefer contemporary; I like traditional way too much. That part is okay. I need to work on remembering that worship is not about me. It’s about God. Whether it’s contemporary or traditional, what I like, what I want doesn’t matter. I can’t let myself get in the way of worship, but it’s going to take quite a bit of work (and prayer) for me to get there.


Image (of my own home church) taken from Fredericksburg, Iowa.St. Paul’s Lutheran Church.”

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