Theology and Worship

I just read an amazing and thought provoking article about worship and theology by Frank Emanuel, Freedom Vineyard (Ottawa, Canada).

In this article, Frank makes service important points as to why we must be careful what worship songs we sing:

a) People will remember the words of a worship song long after they have forgotten the points of a sermon.

“Worship leaders are often even more powerful teachers than even our best preachers”

b) If we are singing to God, we better make sure our words reflex the truth about Him – similar to how you would make sure a love song to your spouse included accurate information about them.

“When I hear comments like, ‘it’s just a song’, as if it doesn’t matter what we sing, I usually shudder inside. In worship it is never just a song – it is worship of the most high God, the Lord of Lords. Worship of such a God always deserves to be our best, our most passionate expressions of our best theology (that is talk about God).”

c) The songs we sing shape what we believe about God.

“Actually I will stop singing in worship settings if I feel the words portray something less than the awesome God I meet in the gospels. I do this because I do not want to disengage my brain in worship. And if you know me you would know I love to worship exuberantly. But more I want to worship with my whole being (mind, heart, strength, etc.) – so words matter to me. I also don’t want to reinforce bad theology by singing it. I am convinced that what we sing strongly shapes what we believe and what we believe is manifest in everything we do.”

A note on this last point: I agree with Frank in that you should stop singing a song if the Lord convicts you that the words are not quite right. In fact, I have done this very thing in the middle of a worship service….

Of course, if you do stop singing a song, do so quietly – as in, don’t start yelling or getting mad at the worship leader for singing ‘that‘ song. If it really bugs you, schedule an appointment with that person and share your concerns. It may be that the worship leader has a different theological viewpoint – or it could be that they simply did not notice the impact of the words being sung.

Mercy and grace in all things – and use your head during worship. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Theology and Worship”

  1. Thanks for the comments Joshua! I agree that as worshipers we need to respect those around us. Worship to me is about creating a safe place where folks can give themselves to God and God’s best for them. When I do stop singing I usually take that time to silently reflect on the goodness of God – not letting the song spoil my worship. When I have a chance to share with worship leaders I know (such as leaders in my own congregation) I help them to discover the issues I might be having with the songs. Often people interpret words differently. I think this is part of growing together as a worshipping community. And God doesn’t wait for us to get all the theology right before moving. Rarely, like when I’m in a large loud group worshipping, I will adjust the lyrics and sing what I feel is a better representation. I do this because then I might have something to suggest to the worship leader – and because I love to participate. But if this would be disruptive I just keep silent.

    1. Good suggestions! Thanks for sharing them – and for your original article. 🙂


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