Some like to raise their hands, others want to remain seated or on their knees. Some pray out loud, others to themselves. Some groove to the sound of drums, others hum along to traditional songs. What am I talking about anyway? Worship!

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The other night we were reading one of our devotionals from the new Whit’s End Mealtime Devotions (you can get 10 of them free here).

This particular devotional asked our kids to share how they enjoy worshipping God: praying silently, out loud, doing songs with actions, songs without, etc. Which brought up the question in my mind: Is there a right or wrong worship style?

Church members have long fought among themselves and split hairs (or just plain split) over corporal worship. Many times these issues have nothing to do with the Biblical definition of worship, but more a matter of style or what is proper or offensive to each person. So is there a right or wrong way to worship?

The short answer is “well, no”. The long answer is “well, sort-of”.

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Worship is defined according to Mirriam Webster asreverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also: an act of expressing such reverence.”  In our case, as Christians, we are worshiping (reverencing) the true God. Let’s look at what the Bible describes as forms of worship.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Psalm 150:1-6

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! Psalm 95:1-2

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. James 5:13

But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him. Habakkuk 2:20 ESV

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1 ESV

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust!” Psalm 91:1-1 NASB

“David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly: “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting….Now, our God, we give you thanksand praise your glorious name.….Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the Lord your God.” So they all praised the Lord, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the Lord and the king.” 1 Chronicles 29:10, 13, 20 ESV

Such an incredible variety of ways to worship God! Giving Him thanks, bowing before Him, keeping silent, singing praise, playing instruments (and loud ones at that), and making a joyful noise are all examples from Scripture where God’s people are reverencing Him and what He has done.

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So then what’s the big deal? It shouldn’t matter then, should it, whether we go to a church with a big praise band or an old sanctuary with a pipe organ?

It actually does matter, in some ways. And here’s why.

“Worship” as we see it in our modern day, can easily be distracting. If what you’re listening to as far as music in your church on Sunday morning is keeping you from focusing on the main reason for being in church, hearing from the Word of God, then it is a problem.

On the flip side, if you’re in church where you’re just reading liturgy from a book and singing hymns without even thinking about what they mean, then that’s a problem too.

People prefer different styles of worship and it’s obvious that Scripture speaks of many different methods of praising God. Perhaps then it is not so much the form of worship that we use, but the heart behind it. Worshipping God with a humble and repentant heart, recognizing His holiness and our need for His grace, believing in the Truth of our salvation through Christ alone, allows us to worship “in spirit and in truth”. John 4:24 

Some people love liturgy. Others get confused by it. Some feel they couldn’t live without a service with praise choruses. Others think those are loud and uninspiring. We cannot find the perfect church. Often we have to make an effort to understand the worship style of the church we are in and also to appreciate the fact that friends or family may enjoy a different style and that it’s okay to praise God in that way as well. The most important factor is if you are in a church where the truth is being spoken. The preaching of the Word is the most essential form of worship!

I can’t tell you whether or not the “praise style” of your church is distracting you from actual worship of God. Only you can examine yourself and ask the Holy Spirit to bring your focus to His Word and enlighten you with the understanding you need to rightly worship.

What type of worship do you enjoy? Have you ever changed the way you worship corporately with other believers because you were distracted by another way?

Shared at Modest Mondays, The Better Mom, Time Warp Wife, Moms the Word, Raising Homemakers, Raising Mighty Arrows, Road to 31, Heart & Home, Walking Redeemed

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6 Comments on Is There a Right or Wrong Worship Style?

  1. Beautiful! Yes, the Word MUST be preached and that is the first priority that we look at, not whether or not the music is a good fit! If the Truth is not preached then the music won’t matter.

    My hubby is a pastor and our oldest son is on worship team, and we are close friends with a few people who are past or present worship leaders in their churches or our church.

    You really cannot please everyone and we need to come to church prepared to worship. God will meet us there.

    I like a mix of some of the more modern praise songs as well as some of the old traditional hymns. I had to laugh one day because our son (24 years old) was practicing a “hymn” to play at church.

    I started laughing because the song he was playing was a popular CONTEMPORARY Christian song that we sang back in my youth group! Now it was in his new book of hymns, lol!

    Thanks for linking up to the “Making Your Home Sing Monday” linky party! :)

    • That is very funny about the “hymn” your son was practicing–we sang a praise song from the 80s last weekend in church and my daughter who is 5 said loudly, “That must be an OLD song!” :)

  2. Very well written. Worship is about the individual. If a church is preaching the Truth, the rest is really personal preference. I personally prefer older hymns and more “traditional” worship, but DH loves the modern worship style. We found a church that actually offers services with both styles at different times. Sometimes we go to the modern service for him and sometimes we go to the more traditional for me. The preaching is spot on and always directly from the Word of God. We love it!!

    • How wonderful that you can find a church that has a good mix of what you both like and that it is a church that shares the truth as well. Love that!

  3. This perspective is spot on! Music is one of the biggest determining factors when someone chooses to commit to a church body and that’s ok because we are all created differently. Even with preferences in music, though I think we can worship God with any style (even if it’s not our favorite) if we are focusing on the One we are worshipping. Excited to explore your blog some more! :)

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