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Thu May 23, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
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Wed May 22, 2013
by Mark Driscoll
Tue May 21, 2013
by Amanda Edmondson
From prison to ReTrain: Russell’s story
Mon May 20, 2013
9 types of leaders in Scripture
Mon May 20, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
From Without, From Within, From Beyond: Does It Matter Where Your Worship Songs Come From?
In the 1980s and ’90s, “worship wars” sprung up around the world, with some churches drawing lines in the sand around classic hymnody. Others threw out the hymnal and restructured services around contemporary praise and worship songs from albums provided by record labels. Although less prevalent, these divisions exist today.
And some churches push for a third way: songs from members in their own congregations. This is a welcome development, but occasionally we hear from worship leaders who only lead songs written from within the church. This is as extreme as churches that only sing old hymns and churches that only do the CCLI Top 25.
Pastors, pray that God sends you songwriters, musicians, and poets.
If you want a balanced diet of songs for worship, weigh the benefits of songs from outside the church, from inside the church, and from beyond—the rich tapestry of hymns from those who have gone before us.
From the Outside
Your local church is just one expression of a global family. To say, “I only want to worship God and allow myself to be spiritually formed by songs from my own congregation” is like believing you couldn’t be blessed and strengthened by a John Piper book, a Mark Driscoll podcast sermon, or a Tim Keller Bible study.
There is something beautiful about walking into a church building far away, perhaps when you’re on vacation or a business trip, and feeling instantly at home as you belt out “How He Loves” or “Blessed Be Your Name” with people you’ve never met. You know the words and melody, and so do they. We hold these songs in common, as we hold our salvation in common.
From the Inside
Has God raised up preachers among you? Has he raised up counselors, benefactors, and encouragers? Mothers for the motherless and fathers for the fatherless? He can raise up songwriters, too, songwriters who can tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love as it intersects with the story of your congregation, in the dialect and personality of your people.
Pastors, pray that God sends you songwriters, musicians, and poets. Nurture them and train them to submit their art to proper theology. Don’t hold them in higher esteem than other servants but don’t make them feel as if they need to obtain a recording contract in Nashville before they are fit for your church.
For over 2,000 years God has been saving souls and empowering them by his Holy Spirit to work in his kingdom. This work has included an immense body of worship songs. The hymns of our ancestors are a treasure chest of gospel-centered songs fit for “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16).
To ignore this inheritance is like an adolescent telling his parents “Sorry, Mom and Dad, you have nothing to teach me. I’m going to figure out life on my own.”
The Bottom Line
Each assembly of believers is different. In some churches, the split between songs from outside, from within and from the past may be 50/30/20. In others it may be equal, and in others it may be 15/40/45. Whatever your approach, think about the advantages of each kind of song, and above all, choose songs that praise God for his unique attributes and acts in history, centered on the cross of Christ.