So personally, I've been internally struggling with an issue regarding my perspective on worship songs specifically.  First, allow me to begin with a (verb) definition of worship I found online.


Worship:  (v) To honor and love as a deity.


That said, let me give a brief background of myself as an individual.  I am the worship leader of a church in the Northwestern United States.  The church is a small one, with over a half of a century of history, and over that time, they have come to love their hymns.  Being raised away from the church, when I was saved, I learned to worship with mostly contemporary worship songs, as they connected with my preferred style of music.  Our church has become accustomed to the 'blended' worship service, using multiple types of worship songs during each service.  For the most part, we have resolved the 'hymn vs. contemporary' issue that has come up in many a church around the world.


Personally, I think of my self as an intellectual being, and I am very rational-minded.  I like to make sure things done in church services are done with intention and on purpose with direct meaning.  Being in the leadership position I am in our church, I have the trust of the congregation to choose the worship songs for each Sunday, as God leads.  And as you all know, sometimes, new songs are introduced.  But with my rational mind, I view the worship song portion of the service as the verb definition states, to honor and love God.  The actual action of doing this in a musical medium is what I feel called to lead (as well as arranging special music pieces, dramas/skits, etc.).


But with all of this said, here's my struggle:  I feel the physical act of musically worshiping God includes singing from our lips to God's 'ears'.  It makes sense to me that singing of God's glory to Him and acknowledging His works and His greatness to Him directly is as natural as speaking to you directly so you can hear/read what I'm saying and know that I'm speaking to you.  It makes a clear distinction in our hearts and minds of who we are communicating with.  So when I choose worship songs, I tend to choose songs that are directed towards God specifically (like How Great Thou Art [Boberg/Hine], Open The Eyes Of My Heart [Baloche], or Your Grace Is Enough [Maher]).  I feel that many Christian songs, although good natured and God oriented, aren't necessarily worship songs in my point of view (like Amazing Grace [Newton], Awesome God [Mullins] or Made To Worship [Tomlin]).  So to me, using them during service seems to be straying from the intention of musical worship from singing TO God, to singing ABOUT God.  And that isn't the point of a musical worship time as a congregation in my opinion.  This directly effects my duties in ministry as there are hundreds of hymns and thousands of songs that aren't addressing God directly.  So this greatly handicaps my song selection when it comes to Sunday morning worship.  I want Sunday morning worship to be a time for the congregation to sing TO God, and not have a sing along ABOUT God.


I have spent many hours in thought and in prayer about this situation and would like to bring this dilemma to you, the reader in efforts to resolve this issue in my mind and in my heart.  My intention is to either finish this conflict with a resolved feeling and internally okay with choosing only songs directed toward God (for the most part) for congregational worship, or coming to an understanding of how to worship God directly without singing to Him directly.  I'm just looking for a rational resolution.  Is there any thought, point of view, scripture, etc. that you might have to offer that would help me to understand and feel at peace with a resolution of this view on the act of musical worship during a church service?  Gracias y via con Dios!

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Just a couple of thoughts:

1) If you scan the Psalms, I believe you'll find a fairly even mix of psalms addressed to God and psalms speaking about God. So there definitely appears to be a clear place in worship (though not an exclusive place) for reciting God's attributes or what He has done. And if it seems uncomfortable to "speak about someone in the room," what happens whenever your church has a guest preacher on Sunday morning? Doesn't one of the pastors or worship service leaders usually say something to the effect of, "This morning we have Pastor So-and-so here with us, and he is an excellent man of God and teacher of God's word, and I know we'll all be blessed by his ministry here this morning." Speaking about someone who is already in the room is actually a far more common phenomenon than we probably realize, and there is enough biblical practice of it in the Psalms that I don't think we need to feel awkward or embarrassed about singing songs about God while He is present with us in a corporate worship service.

2) Passages such as Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19 appear to indicate that one of the functions of worship music (though not the only one) is teaching each other, so there appears to be a place (though, again, not an exclusive place) for worship songs that engage in some level of theological or doctrinal exploration for the purpose of teaching the congregation within the context of worshipping God through song.
I agree with both of you; I think you are on the right track about thinking it through though. I try to do more songs that either address God or are about him but I stay away from songs that are written in 2nd person to other people. (Such as "Come Ye Sinners", "Cry Out to Jesus") Not that those songs are bad, because they aren't, but they just aren't songs that reflect a corporate adoration of God. Those songs might be more appropriate for a concert. Some may ask "Well, doesn't 'Cry Out to Jesus' talk about God, therefore it would be fine?" but I don't think we need to draw a fine line and say one side is allowed or not allowed. There are just some songs I feel less comfortable singing, and others may see it differently. (By the way, I love both of those songs I mentioned; we did Cry Out to Jesus about 3 times before I stopped doing it) The important thing is that worship should be focused on God and not about the congregation, and those songs have a tendency to have us redirect our thoughts to other people and not God. But that's just my humble half-baked opinion.
I believe there are a pretty fair number of Psalms in which God's people exhort each other to worship Him (like Psalm 95, for instance).
Good point. I didn't mean that we shouldn't do those types of songs at all...that's where the half-baked part comes in...I still have a lot to learn in life.
Same here. "I still have a lot to learn in life..." Those wouldn't be bad last words, or maybe nearly-last.
No one ever said that your Sunday Morning worship has to only include that kind of worship. Look at the Psalms, our blueprint for worship, and you will see many forms of singing. As long as we are occupied with thoughts about our God or some aspect of our faith in song, we're worshiping Him. By giving our time and intellect, we are worshiping. There are even songs we call "didactic psalms" which mean "teaching psalms" where a lesson is learned. What you're describing is only one narrow aspect of it.
Seraphim is right.

Worship, by definition, is the act of surrendering ourselves to God, focusing upon Him and them giving Him glory. Any song that does that, is a worship song.

What we have done is given the label "worship" songs to any christian music, which it isn't, necessarily. That's not to say any other types of songs are wrong, they aren't, but we have to understand what WORSHIP is, as oppossed to other songs, if we are to lead our congregations effectively.

I have spoken on this subject to worship teams. A good example is Matt Redman's "Heart of Worship." It is a genuinely brilliant and annointexd song, however, I have never used it in congregational worship, because it is a personal song specific to one situation.

There are other types of songs that we also legitimately use in our service that are not worship. The obviouls one being praise songs, and because there are so many definitions of praise as opposed to worship, the types of these are endless. There are also warfare/intercession songs etc....

My point is that we don't usually just have worship during the music bit of our church services, which is fine. But we must understand the difference, and use songs in the appropriate context of what God is doing at that point. Songs are just that - songs. they are not the worship themselves. Songs are a tool we can use to help manifest the worship that comes from within us, and like any craftsman, we need to uderstand out tools and use them appropriately.
Yea, we don't sing Heart of Worship either. It doesn't fit as a corporate worship song. I think looking at the Psalms is a good start for a worship style/purpose although the bible is full of bits of worship being offered up here and there.
"Heart of Worship" is a song of repentance.
I would suggest that the definition you have restricted yourself to - words directly addressing God only - is a little too restrictive. In Revelation 4 and 5 we get a glimpse inside heaven and the kinds of worship happening there, and while some address God directly, some does not.

Bear in mind that worship is not a rational activity from a human perspective. You may not be able to achieve a rational peace about this, just as many other aspects of knowing Jesus require steps of faith in place of reasoned action in order to be peaceful.
I think it is a good idea to realise there is a difference between songs sung to God and songs sung about God; it is probably worth considering this when choosing songs for particular times during a service (e.g. you could plan to have a couple of songs which are about God, followed by some songs directed to Him, and that would form a natural progression).

But I agree with the others when they note that both sorts of songs have a biblical basis, and that songs can and should be used for building each other up as well as worshiping God, and sometimes both at the same time. [Just to add to the canon of biblical songs or poems about God, you could include Philippians 2:6-11 and arguably Colossians 1:15-20]

And back to the definition of "worship" - you say it is to "honour and love". I firmly believe that we "honour and love" when we sing about Him as well as singing to Him. By way of example, if I tell someone else what a wonderful person my wife is, then I am honouring and loving her in the process.
As this discussion continues (as I surely hope it does), I'd like to thank you all for your input thus far. I feel God is already using you all to expand my horizons beyond what they were mere hours ago. I feel I may have had the somewhat subconscious intention of 'restricting' the complete time of musical worship toward the lone definition of worship given above, without expanding into other forms of musical worship directed toward God. I am already seeing new ways God can transform our time of worship and reflection on Him from one definition to as many as His Spirit fits. Being intentional about what we do is important and I feel many of your suggestions and ideas can bring a whole new color to the services at the church God has placed me. So thanks again and keep the thoughts coming!


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