EMBRACING OUR DIFFERENCES IN WORSHIP
Why is it that in the church we have such a hard time getting along? If you have spent any amount of time in church, you have seen that what I am saying is true. This is especially true when it comes to music. Do I have stories to tell....
During the cool 70's I was in a Christian rock band called " The Apostles". We all had long hair, and wore platform shoes. We were good Christian guys, who enjoyed life and liked our music loud!
We got to sing in all types of churches. One of the highlights for us was when we went to New York City to record our 1st album. The studio was above the famous " Palace Theater". What a trip. One thing I have noticed is that a church that has a passion to reach the lost and to see it's young people on fire for God will embrace things that seem to be unusual at first. As a singer, if I go to a church to sing and think that it is my time to " strut my stuff" I will fall flat on my face. But if I go a church with the intention of worshipping God and desiring to bring His people into His presence, I will easily take many with me into soaring heights of worship.
I moved recently from Nashville to Fayetteville, N.C. to be the worship pastor at a great church. My style of worship leading is very different than what our church was used to. "Embracing our differences" has become one of my favorite expressions. I think it becomes more "all inclucive" to be diverse in style and sound as a church. For example, our city is nearly 40% African American. Yet our church was really not doing any music that would attract the Black community. So when I lead we do alot of R&B, and when others lead we have various different styles from Rock to Vineyard style music. This makes our team stronger! We can reach out to many more in the worship community this way.
While living in Nashville I traveled for 10 years doing concerts in the U.S. and in different countries around the world. In all my travels, I will never forget what happened to me while in Maine one night. I was in the middle of the concert when I took a look at the pastor sitting in the front row. I saw a very distressed look on his face, so I asked him if every thing was OK. He said, " Well, we have never experienced anything like this before". Trust me, it was not a compliment. I said I would shift gears and I sang several songs that were about 15 years old. Suddenly the people began to enter into worship. I was deeply troubled by what happened that night as I knew that I was not there to promote myself in any way, but I was different than they were used to.
God help the church to be a place where people who are different than us feel that they are welcome there. And God help grow up so that it doest matter who is leading worship or even what songs are being sung. Help us to be a people who worship you Lord every time we gather, and that nothing will stop us or distract our worship. Teach us Lord to EMBRACE OUR DIFFERENCES!