Teachable Worship

In his Milestone Worship Blog, Jeremy Killian (I love an Irishman!) brought out a point about teaching and worship, that the focus of worship should not be teaching. I commented:

As a children’s pastor, I use song frequently use songs to teach. Not
only children’s songs, but many modern worship songs can be used as teachable
moments. I could do a whole lesson on Heart of Worship! But as a worship
musician, that is not my goal in the context of a worship service. That goal is
to be a facilitator for the “worship moment.” People can get to know God through
worship, yes - by a personal interaction with Him at that time.

So is worship a time for teaching, yes or no? The answer is, apparently, both. Another commenter brought up Colossians 3:16: “[T]eaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” So clearly Paul expected some learning to come about from the singing of songs.

There is a difference, though, between "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" and what has come to be known as modern worship. As I posted yesterday, the church experience has become much more personal than previously. Now, you can debate the idea of hymns vs. contemporary worship all you want, and when I finish the book I am reading, I will do just that. But I know that I grew up in a liturgical church, singing hymns that did not speak to me in any way, and that did not make me feel like I was in God's presence. But those hymns did teach me a thing or two about God.

Fast forward twenty or thirty years to my moment with Jesus. It was modern worship music that taught me just what a relationship with God looked like. I learned to "open the eyes of my heart" and to come "back to the heart of worship." I learned that God is "worthy of my praise."

But I also learned to experience God in a new way. The music allowed me to express what I could not speak, and to feel God's hand on me. Through songwriting, I can praise God in new ways, in ways that would never come out in conversation.

"Teach your children well." Graham Nash wrote. Teach them in worship and with worship, but mostly, teach them to worship.

(BTW, I listen to those old hymns now with a new understanding. Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee indeed! )


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