Before we begin, I want you to say something with me: "The author of this article places high value on the great hymns of faith." Please, say it out loud. Maybe do it again.
In my ministry experience, I've found no greater "hot-button" topic than hymns vs. new songs in worship. For every person that is excited about new songs, there are those that want the classic hymns of the faith, and vice-versa. Often their comments on both sides are passionate, and accompanied by great emotion.
As with many different preference related discussions, this topic leads us to deeper, farther reaching matters of the heart. Is a hymn more spiritual than a new worship song? No. Are new worship songs somehow better than hymns of the past? No. Remember, "Amazing Grace" was a new song once, too...
Here are 3 questions to ask yourself when evaluating your own worship preferences:
1. Am I seeking to be spiritual mature?
When has it ever been mature to demand your own way? The idea that, "if the church doesn't do things the way I want I'm going to just leave and take my tithe with me," is not a mature way of thinking. Please hear this in love: The church doesn't exist to cater to your personal preferences. What church should be, with God's help, is a place to grow together. To be challenged in the way we think about God. To learn and apply His Word to our lives more and more each day.
2. Am I ministering to others, or am I simply consuming?
Mature believers should be coming to church to be ministers, not only to be ministered to. Are you committed to the vision of your church? Are you active in furthering the mission of your church? When we get involved in the larger, life-changing mission of the church-when we see people's lives actually being changed-little things like our musical preferences don't seem like such a big deal.
3. How is my relationship with Jesus?
If you're not hungry for more of God, maybe it's because you're already full of yourself. We can't spiritualize our preferences. The minute we say "My preference is more spiritual than your preference," we've lost the essence of worship all together. Worship shouldn't be about what pleases me, or my preferences. It should be about pleasing God. When we make worship about our preferences, our eyes turn inward, to what we want. If our eyes are on ourselves, they aren't looking to the One we're there to worship.
1 Samuel 16:7
God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart.”
Your reaction to worship in a style you don't particularly enjoy can tell you a lot about your spiritual condition. If you just can't worship to hymns, there's a deeper spiritual problem. Likewise, if you can't stir your own spirit to worship to new songs, you need to ask the Holy Spirit to help you evaluate the condition of your heart. Let's pray, as David did, that the Lord would reveal to us the attitudes of our hearts, and help us to love Him more!
Examine me, God! Look at my heart!
Put me to the test! Know my anxious thoughts!
Look to see if there is any idolatrous way in me,
then lead me on the eternal path!