Most Christians around the world don't have plenty. They don't have options. They don't have freedom. They are grateful for what they have and for what they are given. If their church doesn't look exactly as they desire it doesn't matter. (Perhaps I should state that many Christians around the world don't even have an expectation to begin with.) Their sense of preference, or more aptly named entitlement, is virtually nonexistent. In many areas of the expression of our faith. What a large group setting looks like. What a small group setting looks like. What worship looks like. On and on. But for us, the blessed in the United States, this sense of preference and entitlement is very much alive.
As a worship pastor I am grateful to say I have not been in a worship war. Skirmishes? Sure. Battles? Perhaps. It is difficult in our sulture who has not experienced some form of the worship war. personally I am grateful to currently be in a church that has people of all worship and musical preferences, yet has found a great sweet spot to thrive in and even move towards the future in. Yet that does not mean I don't still encounter preferences very much alive.
We all have preferences to some degree. Even me! And I try to keep an open mind to all forms of worship. However, sometimes my (our) preferences get in the way of loving other people. Those differences get in the way.
Philippians 2:3 says that we should do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. That we should look not only to our own interests but to the interests of others. Romans 12:10 says that we should out do each other in showing honor. Respecting each others preferences. Loving the person whose preferences may be different than our own.
I recently saw this quote from Alex McDonald, a Christian concert pianist: The problem with the "worship war" is that the real issue has been hidden. We are in love with ourselves, and we blame the music.
Ouch. That's a bit harsh. But it's true. I used to hate rap. To my trained musical war it wasn't music. But it really is music, even by definition. I've seen and heard rap music in ways that have glorified God and brought the lost to salvation in Christ. Shame on me if my love of myself and my own preferences were to stand in the way of God using rap to glorify himself. So praise God for rap!
Let's honor each other. Let's remember that there is world out there that needs Jesus. We are already saved! They aren't. Let's honor each other. And let's honor the lost out there. As Paul stated: Let's be all things to all people so that we might win some for Christ.
I'll end with this thought from Stephen Miller, fellow worship pastor: Worship is war. But it is not to be fought over our own preferences... the next time you go to church and the music is too loud, or the leader is singing that song you don't like, go to war. Fight against the sin at work within yourself. Fight against consumerism and disuinity. Fight for a grateful heart. Fight for the truth to captivate you in a way music never could. Fight to stand in awe of a mighty God who rescued you and graciously sings over you.
worship Him 24/7...