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What Drives Our Music Choicesby Duane Mabee on February 2, 2017
In his “Open Letter to Worshippers”, Gary Durbin addresses the selection of songs for worship. I’m not going to quote him, because I feel it is more important to discuss our own philosophy of worship and how that drives what we do.
I have mentioned a few times during this series of notes that worship is not what happens on the platform. It is not “the show”, the music or the preaching. Worship happens as you actively engage with God. It is the connection that takes place in your heart between you and your Savior. Worship is you acting out your love and reverence for God. That understanding of worship is at the core of everything we do in the worship ministry of North River. It also drives our music selection.
We intentionally focus on music that helps you connect directly with God. The lyrics we use will tend toward those that are a prayer to God, that give God praise for what He has done, and that worship Him for Who He is. By “God” in this context we mean God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
Not all Christians songs, or even what we often refer to as “hymns”, focus our attention on God or cause us to interact with Him. (For the record, the technical definition of a hymn is quite different from the way most people use the word.) Many of the Christian songs we enjoy are not worship. While they are good songs, they do not accomplish our goals for the worship service. We intentionally avoid using those songs. I would give an example here, but I would almost certainly offend someone. The types of lyrics I am referring to tend to focus attention on us, our experience, or things we enjoy. There is nothing wrong with those songs, they just do not promote what we are trying to accomplish.
We also try to select music that fits our congregation. That is not as easy as it sounds. We have very diverse musical tastes in our congregation. We try to seek an appropriate blend, but are intentionally weighted toward the contemporary. In our selections, we also consider the musical abilities of our congregation. We just don’t have as much rhythm or vocal range as many songs require.
Of course, we are not perfect in our selection. We may not use the songs or the blend of styles that you would most prefer. We seek to do our best and to do what we believe is best for North River. Our worship leader puts an incredible amount of time and effort into finding the best music for our church. She appreciates your suggestions, but please don’t be offended if for some reason the songs you most want to hear don’t make it through our filters. Our worship team works hard to do the best we can with the songs we use. Our deepest desire is to draw you closer to God through everything we do in the worship service – music, prayer, preaching, etc. We want to assist you in making those heart connections with God.