Whose top 40?

I am the worhsip pastor at Zion Baptist Church in Braselton, Georgia.  What this means is…I am the choir director, music selector, bad singer rejector, captain of projector, band inspector, sound protector, chaser of defectors, senior pastor respecter, excitement infector and the Jesus reflector just to mention a few responsibilities.

In my spare time, I am a Small Groups Director and Small Group Leader at Zion.  I also help with our pastoral care ministry and staff planning.  I am co-coach on my oldest son’s travel baseball team and just Dad and dear to my family when I have time to be.

All that being said, I have what I see as a very critical responsiblity.  Helping the corporate church to come to a place where they worship Almighty God and helping to teach people that worship is a lifestyle and not a song preference is my job description.  To me, this is a huge load. 

Since becoming a worship pastor, one thing that I’ve noticed never changes is that someone is always complaining.  Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble or let the truth out, but people (especially church people) like to let you know the things with which they disagree.  Here is a list of the most common things people complain about:

Not enough hymns, too many hymns, too loud, not loud enough, drums too loud and should only be played at certain times, get rid of the organ, no guitars, guitars only, get rid of the choir, we can’t hear the choir, tuck in your shirt, no jeans, lose the formal look and these are just a few.  These are not worship related really.  These are all preferences.  Think about it!  All of these complaints are about, “What I want!” 

So, whose top 40 should we play music wise?  Can you keep the senior adults, middle age adults, young couples, college/career/singles and youth all happy at the same time? That’s a BIG FAT NO!  Then the question becomes who should you keep happy?

I resolve to keep God and God alone pleased.

Here is what I try to improve everday and what I shoot for regarding worship.  I will always lean more towards the young couples and youth because they are the future of the church for Jesus Christ and typically statistics show that we can reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ by age 18 and after that it get’s harder and harder.  That doesn’t mean I hate all other folks or their preferred styles of music.  I believe you can enjoy all styles in your car, home or special event that is designed just for you.  It also doesn’t mean I will stop doing all hymns, because there are great things to be learned from some of them.  Some of them just stink, just like some of the current christian songs stink.  Believe me, some of the one’s I have written could win an award for stinking.  We have to remember that it is 2007 and not 1997, 87, 77 or 67 (which was a good year by the way).  This life is but a vapor and we can’t get stuck on pleasing folk’s preferences while we let the young ones drift away from the church.  Also, we have to stop being thick headed and learn that true worship is for HIM!  Guess what?!  God could care less about style, language or how loud our praise and worship is.  The attitude of the heart is what God is inspecting.  Here is my question…I wonder if in the future the church will become more and more segregated by worship styles and fashion styles?  I truly hope not, but I wonder…… 

Psalm 100:2

Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.


20 Responses

  1. Great, Eric – I can see the last couple of years have brought you “wisdom”.

    Me personally, I love all kinds of music, but when it come to Christian music it has a special place in my heart and what I always remember something along this line:

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word is God….”, I like to hear the Word in the music. The Word being what God is all about and means to us as His children.

  2. I know you do Marty and I love to see you use it as a tool.

    Who knows how long we have on this world? Not me, but I am sure it’ll be quicker than we ever dreamed.

    I will always use music for worship to increase the church of Jesus Christ and not to decrease it.

    Your family gets it and supports it!!!

  3. Great Point Eric!

    I have a response but I think it is going to take a bit to type so I will do it later!

  4. We’ve had this conversation a few times in the past. Bottom line, you cant’ please everyone in the congregation, from a musical perspective. Come to think of it, you probably couldn’t please them in other areas either. I believe you have worship as a whole headed in the right direction. You with a few solos and Marty with a few riffs, and I’ll be content. By the way, you forgot critisism deflector.

  5. Criticism deflector – somebody’s thinkin’.

    You’re right Kurt. The goal can’t be to please people. You have to lead “no matter the cost” and that’s what I plan to do. Thanks for the encouragment and optimism. You always have a way of getting to the point. I like that!

  6. i say if we can keep GT and KT on stage, let them rock us out, my generation will be happy. lol!!!

  7. I in no way envy your position in our church, but I do admire the way you have handled it. If people could simply strip down all the layers of preferences we put on the church, mainly music, think of what it could become.

  8. Thanks dude. You don’t have to think of what it could become because you’ve seen it at churches elsewhere. We’ll all get there somehow. Maybe when you and I are old codgers, we’ll be able to talk about the good old days when everybody hated each other’s music and you ran off to Australia to find out how kangaroos worship in the outback.

    Love you dude. Thanks for all you’ve done for the worship at Z.

  9. Audience of One, my brutha! And He’s quite honestly the only One that matters.

    You bring it. We’ll sing it! To worship in song is only part of this gig, but it happens to be the most Fun! I can’t carry a note in a 50 gallon drum and you know what? I don’t think God cares. I got a sneakin’ suspicion, He loves my heart!

    Do you think God has a Top 40?

  10. Hey man…been in Orlando and havent caught up on my blogs…

    I think you are right on with focusing on the young…they are the Church and without youth, the church will die. I applaud your effort to balance it all and i will pray that God will protect you from fatique, burn out and an empty spirit. Worship is a lifestyle and i pray that you, as the lead worshiper at Zion, are connecting with the Father daily to be filled.

    Grace and Peace my friend…


  11. Having been a worship leader myself for about 10 years, I learned something quite early…my job was to please God, not necessarily His people.

    He showed me this one Sunday quite clearly. After what I thought was a great praise and worship service. A man walked up to me and said “why do you do those old dead songs? With all this fresh Worship out there, you should be concentrating on what God is doing now instead”

    less than 5 minutes later, a woman walked up to me with tears in her eyes and said, the hymn I did (which I jazzed up a bit) was an incredible blessing and she thanked me for doing it and hoped I’d be doing more hymns in the future.

    Mr. Bob

  12. I strongly believe that we have to get “Back to ” ..”The Heart of Worship”……
    Inviting the awesome presence of God to dwell with us…. God has ordained a devine order to Music & Praise & Worship.. We must enter HIS gates with Thanksgiving in our hearts…(Praise) ..Uplifting…… And after praise , begin to Worship…Allowing HIS presence to come down and “Dwell” among us ! “HE”
    inhabits the Praises of HIS people… Some of the songs you here song in Churches are sectular songs birthed in the pit of Hell , and just the words are changed, and there is NO annointing to the song… God wants an untainted sacrifice of Praise……….I could go on , but I’ll stop for now ! God should lead,guide and direct the “Praise & Worship”‘ !!!!

    Andrew Raynor
    Elizabeth City ,N.C.

  13. Andrew: thanks for your comments. I agree with you on getting back to “The Heart of Worship,” but the question remains and maybe I can make it simpler by stating it this way, “What style or styles should we use?” Does it matter?

  14. God can, will and does use ALL THINGS for HIS GLORY!
    I hope I say this with all the love & grace with which it is intended… I know and believe we are called to a higher standard as followers of Christ to be able to seperate the “clearly detestable” and that which would be pleasing to God with reverance. But at what point are we the judge of what is annointed and what is not? The “untainted sacrifice” is no more a song than it would be scratch off lottery winnings in the offering coffers. And know this, it happens.
    True worship is the transparency of a repentant heart before an omnipresent and omniscient God! Do it on your head, in a handstand, juggling Chainsaw’s with your feet, but in all things GIVE HIM THE GLORY!

    14 David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, 15 while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

    Reckon’ it was some Earth, Wind & Fire….I mean with the trumpets and all?

  15. Listen, David, the king of Israel, danced and sang with reckless abandon in front of the Lord, and his court.

    That’s how the man after God’s own heart defined worship.

    And it was good.

  16. Eric-
    thanks for leading as God was the only one in the crowd. that is the whole point and i thank God for the times i’ve seen you pass the crowd and get to the heart of God and doing it all for Him. i’ll say this: you keep doing that and there’s no doubt in my mind HE WILL BLESS IT. however, you switch gears, the blessing will move somewhere else.
    thanks bro for being visionarry, for looking ahead and doing your best to engage the ‘future’ of church.
    and thanks for being there for me, anytime i need a starbucks or something!!!
    zBlogga loves the optimist. si!

  17. To answer your question “ERIC” , The stlye really doesn’t matter if “Led by and controlled By ..”The Holy Spirit” ! I have done contemporary , and gone into an older HYmn , and the “Power” and “Presence” Fall on us ! We should be after the real “Heart of GOD” ,,What does HE want, What PLEASES HIM !! ??
    May God continue to use You for His Glory !!
    God Bless,

    Andrew Raynor
    Elizabeth City, N.C.

  18. Thanks Andrew. I believe that it should all be for Him also and I also believe you’re right about style. I find it hard to swallow that God would like Chris Tomlin more than Fanny Crosby or anyone else.

    By the way, I do the same thing as you. I use contemporary, hymns and anything else I can find that glorifies Him.

    May God continue to bless your ministry as well.


  19. Good times!

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