Vince Treadway, ACM Founder
The contemporary secular culture teaches that self interest is primary, and if a particular thing does not suit one’s fancy, then simply, “Do your own thing.” This cultural mantra is counter-cultural to Scripture that teaches us to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” and to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
What does the unity of the body of Christ have to do with church music and worship? A great deal! How often our hearts are grieved as we hear of churches that have split over style of worship! How this must also grieve the Lord, especially when He gave the ultimate gift of His own life to make us sons and daughters of His own in one family! How vitally important it is today for our churches to be one in the Spirit as we worship the Lord and recognize and respect the perspectives of our brothers and sisters around us.
I believe that it is possible for churches to offer worship that glorifies our Lord, edifies the saints, brings about spiritual maturation, and is sensitive both to the culture in the immediate area of the local church and to the church universal. “You’re dreaming, Vince!” you might say. And to that I would say, “You’re right! I am dreaming of a great worship service where all the saints of all time are gathered around the throne of God singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!” Somehow, I don’t think style is going to be an issue there. I’m praying that pastors and worship leaders and musicians will work hard at being gentle and strong shepherds and lead their congregations to experience the vast banquet table that is set before God’s children to enjoy in worship.
Worship should not segregate God’s people but rather bring them together. The decisions that determine what will be included in worship should be made for the benefit and good of the entire body of Christ in that local church and not to further entrench some parishioners in their like of one thing and disdain for another. Maturation includes learning new and different things: being stretched in our understanding and knowledge, while recognizing that others have tastes other than our own; and being patient with people who are at a different place than we are spiritually, experientially, and emotionally.
A strong and gentle shepherd will be able to teach new things by introducing them in a way that is sensitive to where the flock is and careful not to scare them away. A strong and gentle shepherd will recognize that these changes will sometimes not be popular but will do what is best for the flock as a whole. Can those of us who have a part in planning for worship prayerfully consider every aspect of the experience, asking the Lord that as His people focus on Him who is worthy of all praise, that they will be drawn together in unity and love? Yes and Amen!