Andy Park: Teaching and Evangelism Through Worship Music

Wednesday 20th August 2003

Many people have the idea that contemporary worship music is of value only to the Church, a coded language to the living God. In fact, as renowned worship songwriter ANDY PARK explains here, worship songs can have a profound ministry in teaching the saved and evangelising the unsaved.

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In current philosophical thought, the nonnegotiables have become negotiable. There is no baseline Judeo-Christian understanding of a Creator God who calls people to morality. The rule of the day is to make your own rules. There is no fixed vision of eternity that creates a context for daily living.

Into the spirits of Christians and non-Christians challenged by changing values and beliefs, the worship leader injects the unchanging story of Jesus. "As far as the Christian is concerned, the story is wholly objective, not subjective to opinion, addition, or omission; it is constant. The story of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the unchanging center of the life, work and worship of the church. It is the thing that defines us, tests us, and judges us, as we seek to be faithful communicators of this gospel we serve." Songs of worship are a primary means of telling the story of Jesus.

Through singing the story of Jesus - through rehearsing the acts of God in history - we give people a context for living. As we relive the coming of Christ into the world, our own lives make sense. In worship we see ourselves on the continuum of time - we live between the first and second comings of Christ.

The systematic telling of the Jesus story is one of the strengths of the liturgical church. The cross of Christ is at the center of the liturgy and the Scripture readings gradually work through the Old and New Testaments year after year. Solid biblical teaching is built into the worship service.

This is more than an intellectual review of information. Within the worshipping community, we are formed by the incarnate Christ in our midst. In worship, we experience the essence of family. "This family is stamped by a character - the character of Christ delivered by the Spirit, especially in worship. From a human standpoint, this means that spiritual formation occurs not merely from being at worship, but allowing the vision rehearsed in worship - the vision that sweeps from creation to re-creation - to become the vision out of which and by which each worshiper lives."

In worship we not only see who God is, we see who we are. As rays of revelation stream down from heaven, we say "Oh yeah! Jesus is alive! He is real, he is here and he gives me purpose for living. I am not just a carpenter, a doctor, a truck driver, a mother of small children; I am an eternal child of God." As eternal citizens of heaven, everything we are springs out of everything God is. We are a "chosen race" because we are children of the Chosen One; we are a "royal priesthood" because we are followers of the great High Priest; we are a "holy nation" because we are subjects of the Holy One of Israel (1 Pet 2:9-10). Peter goes on to say that we had no identity as a community of people until we were joined to the body of Christ: "Once you were not a people but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Pet 2:10).

"Worship is the pathway and the atmosphere for people - the saved and the unsaved alike - to discover their royal calling in Christ, their high destiny in life, their fullest personal worth and their deepest human fulfilment." This is Jack Hayford's eloquent explanation of seeing our identity in Christ through worship.

Paradoxically worship is one of the most humbling, yet ennobling activities we can do. It's humbling because we bow before our Creator and it is dignifying because in it we realise that we are heirs of the highest royalty. "God wants the fullness of his power, the richness of his nature, the authority of his office and the wealth of his resources to ennoble our identity and determine our destiny!. Worshiping God brings the highest sense of dignity humanity can know, for the regal nature of his majesty begins to flow downward and inward."

In leading worship, we give people a window to heaven. Our songs are the vehicle of fixing our gaze on things above, not on things on the earth.


Most worship leaders wouldn't think of giving themselves the label theologian. Yet through our songs, we present the truth about who God is. We paint a picture of the personality of God and the way he relates to humanity. In an age where people get their information in quick, stimulating ways - through the internet, TV and radio - worship songs are a hugely important source of theology.

To illustrate the theological power of songs, let's look at an example from church history. One of the most significant battles over doctrine in the early church was the Arian controversy in the fourth century AD. The issue in question was the divinity of Jesus. Athanasius led the way in arguing that Jesus was "of one substance with the Father" (Nicene Creed) - that he was not created, but was eternal and infinite along with the Father and the Holy Spirit. His opponent, Arius, a presbyter in Alexandria, was viewed as an expert logician. He argued that the Son was created by the Father and was not equal to the Father.

This crucial doctrinal battle raged for many years. At times, popular opinion was on the side of Arius. His view held sway in the Eastern Orthodox churches. The Arian controversy was the main subject of debate at the council of Nicea in AD 325. This episode of church history is relevant to our discussion because the hymns written by Athansius and Arius were among their most powerful tools in fighting for their beliefs. Here are some excerpts from hymns by both of these theologian songwriters:

From Athanasius:

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Reader Comments

Posted by Mikhaila in US @ 05:49 on Jan 2 2013

We should distinguish the type of music we play and write and call worship songs. If we are to worship the Trinitarian God then we should write and play songs that are worshipful to Him. We have plenty of examples from the Bible and even what instruments we are to play. Much of contemporary worship music rarely if ever even mentions Jesus. I can easily substitute any name for this sappy stuff. Many do not even talk of scripture just, 'Jesus is my boyfriend' type of songs. Now if you want to play this OUTSIDE of church to the unchurched as well as to the believers then fine I suppose. However, you really aren't teaching God's truth but emotionalism. It's no wonder a lot of men don't like these 'worship' songs. If I were to buy you a gift it should be something you like not something I like. Shouldn't it hold true for our Lord to be given something He likes. I'm sure He is much kinder than I to look at the songwriter's heart and the singer's motive but let's get real. Many contemporary Christian songs have no real depth and are disposable. Scripture is so very rich. We should do it justice. I myself am taking this challenge.

Posted by helen yawson in Accra ghana @ 12:45 on Oct 6 2008

thanks for your excellent insight on worship and evangelism

Posted by ISRAEL ASARE in ACCRA-GHANA @ 09:12 on Jun 16 2008

dear sir,
i'm very interested in the programes on your website.
any way,i'm in one of the theological schools in ghana, but my problem is i would like to know the idea of God and human being either in worshipsong,praises,sermons and practices in churches.
thank you.

Posted by dahil in philippines @ 06:54 on Nov 19 2007

worshi[p is one of our purpose in life!

Posted by Dianne Miller in Trinidad, West Indies @ 21:02 on Jan 24 2007

I love worship, I just love my God and if there is anything i can give to Him is worship.

I just love to worship Him. I never listen to any other
music but worship songs, no other songs really appeal to me ever again. I feel so good singing for the Lord and Him only.

Reply by Ursula in New Zealand @ 02:49 on Jun 13 2008

Hi there, i am the same,love christian music, our love for the Lord for who He is and Him for us, draws us to worship Him, i don't listen to secular music as well, it does nothing but worshipping God is awesome.

[report abuse]

Posted by karen h. findley in wardensville, @ 23:37 on Jun 24 2006

I was at a church meeting and a lady sang "will you ride?" god gave me a vision for a painting and it has blessed many. Keep in the spirit!

blessings.karen findley

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