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.
Continued from page 2
The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
The Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten.
The Holy Ghost is of the Father, and the Son:
Not made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
We believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
Perfect God and perfect man: Of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting;
Equal to his Father, as touching his Godhead:
Less than the Father, touching his manhood
Who, although he be God and man, yet he is not two but one Christ.
We praise him as without beginning because of him who has a
And adore him as everlasting, because of him who in time has come to be.
He that is without beginning made the Son a beginning of things originated;
And advanced him as the Son to himself by adoption.
He has nothing proper to God in proper subsistence.
For he is not equal, no, nor one in essence with him.
Wise is God, for he is the teacher of wisdom.
Arius's hymn begins beautifully. But as the hymn unfolds, he strips Jesus of his divinity, thereby attacking the very foundation of Christianity. This song was sung by thousands of Christians in Arius's day. Let this be a lesson to us - if we are worship leaders, we are theologians, so we'd better be singing the real truth.
In the 16th century Reformation, we see another example of the power of song. In a document by a Jesuit, we read, "Luther has murdered more souls with his songs than with his writings and sermons." For an opponent of Reformation theology, the songs were the most devastating weapon, not Luther's sermons!
Through worship music, our souls are fed with a rich impartation of truth. The worship leaders' challenge is to serve good food to the church every week, giving them a nutritious diet of truth, encouragement and exhortation.
Every week, you envision people. You feed their minds. You tell them who God is, how God sees them and how God wants them to live. You challenge their minds; you confront them with truth. (Maybe that's one reason they often look pensive and thoughtful rather than always effusive and expressive.) Remember, the worship you are hoping to foster goes far beyond the immediate reactions of people in a worship service. You are giving them food for thought, food for life.
WORSHIP AS EVANGELISM
"Ours is the culture of the artist, not the culture of the orator," said Eddie Gibbs, professor of church growth at Fuller Seminary, to a group of Vineyard songwriters in February 2001. He told us that our impact as worship leaders and songwriters is far greater than that of preachers or authors. He urged us to "respond to the challenge of biblical illiteracy," which is greatly on the increase today.
We face our own modern day Arian controversy, since we live in a culture where the majority does not accept Jesus as God. Our job is not only to explain the nature of God to Christians but to present the gospel to the unconvinced.
Tony Campolo, who teaches at Eastern College in Pennsylvania, observes that in past years, the voluntary chapel services were largely neglected by the students. However, in recent years this has changed dramatically:
"Students are leading worship in forms that have come out of the charismatic movement. The worship time lasts for more than 30 minutes and it is drawing students together as never before. We had to move the chapel services out of the auditorium and into the gymnasium just to contain the student body. Students are being converted by worship. This is surprising to me because I always thought the sermons were the decisive factor in bringing people into a relationship with Christ. But, I am finding that worship can do that even more effectively and deeply. Young people are looking for a relationship with God more than a theology about God. Worship which is truly in the Spirit is giving that to them."
Once again we see that worship touches the whole being - not just the mind, but the emotions and the spirit. The pathway to the mind is often through sensory, artistic experiences.
I have many friends who regularly lead worship music outside the four walls of the church. One friend in British Columbia leads worship every Friday night in the summertime after a churchsponsored barbeque for the needy in the town's central park. Other friends do worship songs at secular coffee houses (many of the songs don't emphasize the name of Jesus but are genuine songs about God). I've led worship on a beach boardwalk, in parks, in shopping centers and in apartment courtyards. Here is one story of the evangelistic power that works through worship in the marketplace.