Cultural Noise

The following article is related cultural noise in the worship gathering: Cultural Noise and Worship Leadership. Comments are welcome.

32 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Richard on October 31, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    The interesting aspect of cultural noise and worship leadership, is that, as a musician, I can not let myself get caght up in my own wishes of what I would like to hear. As much as I like to listen to contemporary christian music, I have to remember this one facet of a worship service, “just because it is on the radio doesnt mean that it is good for a worship service in South Georgia.” I mean really, could you see someone doing a Toby Mac song in a worship service. Even if you can understand everything Kirk Franklin is saying, doesnt mean that the little blue haired lady sitting in the fourth pew will. To her, it would just be a bunch of noise. So, to sum this up, even if you are doing contemporary music, it is your responsiblity to ensure that what you present to your congrgation should be clear and precise and Christ centered, not just what you think is “cool”


    • Posted by Cindy Mangum on November 3, 2012 at 12:05 am

      As several of you have already mentioned, we must constantly evaluate and re-evaluate the choices we make regarding the music we use in worship settings. As congregations are generally made up of several generations, all preferring one style of music different from the other, we must be sensitive to what might be ‘offensive’ while still endeavoring to include that which is culturally relevant. Not an easy task! However, if we bring about change (in this instance the introduction of new music styles) for the right reasons – that of proclaiming the gospel of Christ first and foremost – if we introduce change incrementally and with sensitivity, hopefully those we are trying to reach will understand the heart of the change and we can assuage any fears that the congregants might have.


    • Posted by Stacy Phillips on November 3, 2012 at 1:41 pm


      I think you have the right attitude concerning worship. I do feel that often churches are guilty of just doing the next cool thing, or following the pattern of the church down the street that is reaching more people than they are. A good deal of people are hurt along the way. As leaders, we all have to value the needs of “the blue haired ladies” as well as the needs of new generations. I love the thought of a church where young and old alike worship God with excitement and expectations and with an openenes to love the worship gathering together, even if there may be an element that is not personally ideal sometimes. Keep up the good work.


    • Posted by Stephen McAliley on November 5, 2012 at 2:16 am

      Richard I agree that just because it is cool to listen to on the local Christian music station does not mean it is the right thing for a worship service. However I once served at church that was so set in how they worshiped you felt like you were in a time warp and had gone back to 1971. I really like how you ended your post, what we do in worship is focus on Christ in a clear and honest way regardless of the style.


  2. Posted by Cory Stanley on November 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    I agree with you Richard….you have to know your community and cultural surroundings to find what worship music speaks to the congregants. This is not always a 100% effective because you will always have a percentage looking for music that personally interest them. Finding music that everyone can worship to is a hard task and not always found on the Contemporary Christian Top 40. As Richard said we can’t pull off every style in worship, but we can make attempts to diversify ourselves to help shepherd HIs flock. This is why I believe that worship leaders need to be constantly working and developing multiple skills in music and worship. We are called to do everything to the best of our abilities, not just the popular trends. I want to be a worship leader that can work with a small southern church as well as a large metropolitan church.


    • Posted by MaryLibby Wells on November 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm

      As you guys said, we should not be self-focused in our worship leading; rather we should know the tastes of our congregants. In the article, Dr. Woodward pointed out that we should dialogue with church leaders and patrons to gain an understanding on how we can expand the musical styles of the service to reach everyone. This can be a daunting task, however, especially for larger sized churches. Since culture is the lens through which art is judged (p. 15), there may be a myriad of expectations to accommodate. While a multi-generational approach to ordering services is ideal, the principle at its root is love. Dr. Woodward reminded us that perfect love casts our fear (p. 23). Therefore, everything we do must be done with a motive of love – from our tone of voice, to the music we choose. May God give us hearts of love for each other and for Christ.


  3. Posted by Jeremy Williams on November 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    As Dr. Woodward was reading this to the ATL section of the class I could not help but think about the role that music has during our development when we are growing up. This musical preference a cultural noise seems to stem from whatever music seemed to be popular during the teenage years of one’s life. That maybe why our older generations still seems to like the organ and orchestral music, because of the influences of the big band era. How about the boomers and a move to a more contemporary style, because they grew with soul and rock and roll to influence them. Now we have even Christian hip hop and grunge for those who grew up being influenced by this style. It seems that the secular music that we listening to during our formative years is having an effect on the type of music that is found in our churches today.


    • Posted by Stacy Phillips on November 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      Jeremy, one thing I have observed in my congregation is the dynamic of musical preference. I often hear people say things like, “they just like that old people music”. The fact is, it is not “old people” music to them. Many of the older people in our congregation became involved in the church when they were young couples in their 20’s and 30’s. The music we utilize today was and still is “young people” music to them. I believe that the mindset is that since they liked it in their young years that young people today should too. One reason I do not like the terms traditional and contemporary when refering to music is that they really don’t do justice to the issue. I prefer to think of music as having generational appeal. My Third Day and Casting Crowns that I love will be “old people” music to my grandkids and traditional. So, for me, our worship design and musical use has to have a wide reaching generational appeal so that our missional effectiveness can be generational. One thing this takes is a great deal of spiritual maturity on everyones part to be willing to give and take a little to maintain the unity of the body.


  4. First of all, great article. There is so much to take away from the scriptures contained here. I think the takeaway for me was from page 9 where Paul brings everything back to simply loving those whom your ministering to/with. It doesn’t really matter if your right (when making your argument) if you trample over someone in your dialogue with them. Like Libby said above, “may God give us hearts of love for each other and for Christ”.

    Secondly, I think we, as worship leaders, cannot be the sole decision maker of what is “noise” and what is not. I firmly believe a multi-generational group of leaders within one’s church could go a long way to helping the worship leader keep a pulse on what his/her congregation needs. We are of course there to serve Christ first, but those whom we’ve been entrusted to lead are also very important. Having input from other trusted sources could be an invaluable tool to ensure that those we’re leading are being given the opportunity to express worship week in and week out.


    • Posted by Rob Oglesby on November 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      William, you are absolutely right in saying that, “We are to serve Christ first.” The diverse leadership that you are talking about is an excellent tool in guiding others to serve Him as well. We need to do our best in speak each person’s own “language” without making a mockery of the worship setting and trying to be people pleasers.

      In loving others, (those we are ministering to) we are completing the Great Commandment of , “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22;37)


  5. Posted by Cindy Mangum on November 2, 2012 at 11:48 pm

    There were a few things that I took away from this article. Let me begin with the author’s statement, “Thus, buzzing timbres and even some artistic types of less than clear pronunciation are not cultural barriers to my engagement in worship; rather, these features sometimes draw me into a heightened interest for a particular worship song displaying these characteristics.” In the author’s previous statement, he referenced lack of clear pronunciation as a non-issue in worship because the words could be seen on the media screen. As a baby-boomer myself, I admit to being a fan of classic rock music, although never much of a fan of the screaming guitar. However, in worship the lyrics are vitally important in sharing the gospel message through song. If we lose the that message then what we are presenting is simply musical entertainment. At that point one has to wonder about the true intent of the musical presentation – is it really for worship or is it really about entertainment and self – ‘look at what a good musician I am?’ Regardless of the genre of the music, we must be mindful not to lose the message, for in losing the message then we’ve lost the worship.

    One other point that really made an impact with me was in regards to the various of pitch and the perception of noise. What an insightful statement – “Thus, if a single pitch can be heard differently among various individuals, a complex array of sounds certainly holds the potential of being perceived as cultural noise by a given individual.” Being an individual that is blessed with the ability to hear ‘pitch,’ I must admit that I had never really given much thought to those who can’t hear pitch, thus only hearing all music as ‘noise.’ Thank you, Father, for giving me the gift, the ear, for music! What a different world it would be if I could not understand the intricacies of song, sound, pitch and rhythm.

    A final point that this essay brought to me was in understanding how a specific type of music might trigger a subliminal connection to events of a certain era. For example, for the pre-boomers, (the ‘Builders’ per Sharp’s Multi-Generational Worship Profile) the classic rock type of music might subconsciously bring to mind the 60s era of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” Obviously not all classic rock-styled music is, in fact, about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but if that subliminal connection is made then the music triggers a ‘bad’ mental image. As worship leaders, it then becomes vitally important that we understand the possibility for those types of mental connections to certain historical eras so that we can then be especially sensitive and aware of the music we choose for specific congregations.


    • Cindy, just to clarify :note that I did not say lyrics lacked importance but rather that proncunciation is less important since words are typically always on screens now.
      In other words, it is possible that congregation losing nothing in terms of word meaning if words are on screens. In fact if a person is drawn to the sound, attention heigtened, they might actually pay closer attention to the words. This would be an intereting study if someone could create a research design.


  6. Intriguing article and some very well-spoken comments regarding it. I am especially drawn to a topic like this due to my personal inclinations and ministry calling. I am at a church with a definite multigenerational congregation (children to their grandparents!). I like the emphasis that everyone has put on avoiding selfish ambition and sole personal preference… I will however add a caveat to this thinking.

    It is still essential for worship leaders to be authentic. Of course, this sounds like an obvious point, but I think with an effort to be “rounded” “balanced” or “multigenerational” we might allow our liturgy to become detached unless we are constantly and consistently seeking the Lord. The hope is that not only do we select our music for the appeasement of all peoples, but instead, do so out of a love for Christ so deep that we wish to worship Him through everyone’s song. We find a real appreciation for hymns if we are rockers at heart. Or we find a avid passion for drums and bass if the lower registers of the organ are the closest we’ve come to a rhythm section. I loved what was said at our class meeting by Dr. Duncan in New Orleans.. “we should sing each other’s songs”. It becomes a practice of fellowship, community, and ultimately worship.

    “Perfect love cast out fear”. What a great section of this article. How can we worship without love? It is an impossibility that is affirmed ALL throughout Scripture. This paper does a good job of unpacking and expanding it as well! Love is where “worship wars” go to die. Surrender is the only attitude to take towards differing musical structures, timbres, melodies, etc. as long as the central theme is exalting Christ. Naturally, all text and lyrical content must be examined with the Bible as it’s measuring rod, but apart from that no genre, style, or method must be excluded from possible worship means.

    This is a topic that will always be relevant as long as we are on this imperfect earth. Human nature craves the familiar and comfortable. When someone’s comfort conflicts with another’s we will have tension. The tension can only be softened or eliminated through the love of Christ.


  7. Posted by Paul Sexton on November 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I enjoyed reading this paper and also forwarded it to my local worship pastor who is referenced in citation 40 on page 19 so that he could take a look at it. I particularly enjoyed the exegetical section in the first part of the paper. I have not heard that passage ever used with regards to music in the church but thought it was a good application of the principles Paul espouses and an appropriate way to apply them. I thought the paper could have gone further in its exegesis by looking at the clear principles taught by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12-14 rather than by simply focusing on an obscure passage (1 Corinthians 14:18-22). I believe that specific part of the text does clearly teach principles the church may apply to planning services but I thought that the ideas discussed in part 1 — “The message must be intelligible so that all may comprehend” on pages 6 and 7 spoke more clearly overall to the general purpose and intent of the paper as a whole.
    I have found in my own short time as a worship leader that some songs which I listen to at home and which speak to my own heart may not have the same effect at times when applied in my own local assembly. I have also found that songs which do not especially minister to my own heart will quickly resonate well in the local assembly at times. I believe that worship leaders especially are faced with a delicate task of leading and training their congregants in new songs and widening ways of approaching God while providing familiar enough milieu to their congregants so that those congregants are able to readily approach God in familiar and preferable ways.
    This sensitivity and challenge most certainly requires sensitivity to both the leading of the Holy Spirit and the personalities and preferences of congregants. Jesus Himself took the responsibility to build The Church. All worship leaders ought to be thankful that this is the case! However, this being the case, worship leaders ought especially to spend much time in prayer and exposure to God’s Word and all varieties of Christian music in order for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide one’s heart in the preparation of worship leadership in one’s own local church. One cannot also neglect a central task of any shepherd — that of knowing one’s own sheep! The practice of cultivating sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit coupled with diligent and consistent bridge-building with one’s congregants ought to cut right through the mix of cultural noise no matter where one finds themselves in ministry.


  8. Posted by Stacy Phillips on November 3, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    I found this article helpful due to the current ministry position that I hold. I am the pastor of a church that currently has 250 average in attendance on any given Sunday. We are a traditional church that is in the process of trying to find our place in reaching younger generations while at the same time maintaining a certain familiarity among our older congregants, who make up a large part of the congregation. In evaluating our reach effectiveness, we need to strengthen not only our involvement and reach of younger generations, but also be a church that keeps our current young generations involved so that we can disciple them to be future leaders. I am not a fan of two distinctly different services divided by generational preference. I know some churches do this well, but I am hesitant to divide the body among generational lines. I appreciate the point in the article that spoke of “blended services”, I tend to not favor that title either, many people hear “compromise” when that term is used. The article mentioned a “multigenerational model” of worship. As I have spoken to some of our leaders about our need to evaluate our worship, I have tried to speak in terms of “including elements of worship that appeal to various age groups”. I have heard some comments such as, “some people just want to be entertained with their own music”, to which I have replied, “don’t we all have a little bit of selfish motivation in choosing the church we worship in?”. The truth is, most people worship in an environment that is pleasing to them. What is “noise” to some people will always be worship to others. The question I am asking our leaders is, “how do we become the most effective at reaching the unchurched and de-churched in our mission area that God has placed us in?”. That has given many of them pause to consider our reaching impact in our culture. I know worship is to be God focused, but I believe it does have a missional aspect to it. For me, there are two criteria we must place on any worship, Is it Biblical and does it honor Christ? We cannot measure those qualifiers dependant on the appeal it has to us as individuals, as much as we need to measure this on the overall impact that worship has on the congregational mission. I speak of that in terms of the church as a whole and not in personal terms. During my own private worship I do listen to that which strictly appeals to me. But I am very comfortable worshipping with music that appeals to my two teenage daughters, whether it is in the car or in the church setting.To summarize, as a pastor that seeks to lead a church to be as effective in reaching people I try to lead our congregation to be as flexible as we need to be in order to be as missional as we can.


    • Stacy–very thoughtful response–we understand that sometimes our students will be speaking in theory regarding scenerios they have observed, but your comments abover remind us that many of our students are very much in the trenches in terms of dealling with the issues discussed in this class.


  9. I hear many worship leaders debate an issue that this article finally addresses. Why do different people respond differently? At face, that is a circular argument. But understanding the concepts of cultural noise, and underlying issues, such as the balance of clarity and interest, allows worship leaders to identify those differences.

    We have misused terminology in our church music that if corrected will provide freedom for leaders and worshippers alike. When we discuss music, we speak of “preference”. We even create new services based on musical “preference”. When we visit, we may even ask “Do you prefer traditional music or contemporary music?”

    The concept of cultural noise reveals that this phenomenon in our churches isn’t a preference. It’s a barrier. People say they prefer one type because they can’t hear, appreciate, or interpret the other. That’s not a preference, that’s a limitation. As worship leaders, we feed this limitation by segmenting our worship and our worshippers by musical style. Exposing the entire body of Christ to the entire view of worship will begin pulling down barriers, and creating more unity. In order to create and maintain unity in our worship, cultural noise has to be considered when selecting, arranging, and performing music for worship. There also has to be the real expectation of compromise. Worship leaders then need to make sure it’s not a one-sided compromise.

    For leaders and worshippers, the question comes down to this: Is worshipping God more important than getting what I want? When I answer that question appropriately, noise gets quiet.


  10. Posted by Chris on November 3, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    “Culture becomes the lens through which art is judged.” As we discuss worship and styles of worship, it is very evident that it is difficult for me to be objective. And like so many others, my experiences, likes, dislikes and culture flood my mind with what should be done and how we should worship. Yet, there is no way for me to fully understand all the complexities of worship and music…the pitches and the steps between pitches, noise levels, etc. (as you can tell, I am not a musician or worship leader:)
    For example, as expressed in this paper and in our “Exploring the Worship Spectrum” the organ is incomparable in its range, tone and volume. I grew up with the piano and guitars while never appreciating (or should I say understanding) the organ. The organ complements the voice without drowning it out. My lens was and is limited. Its only now that my lens is expanding…
    But my question is, how do we successfully combine generations in worship? Is there really a possible way to capture all generations and possibly all cultures and seat them together in worship? or do you create certain worship services for certain age groups? I am asking these questions now as our church is wanting to create a worship service for Bridgers and Busters. Looking at the Dr. Sharps matrix and considering where we are geographically, it seems impossible to please everyone? Will we have to swallow the fact the some will hate what we choose and some will love it?


  11. Posted by Tyler Hennessee on November 3, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    First let me say, I thoroughly enjoyed this reading and found it to be very thought provoking. So, thanks for sending this to our class! Now, I believe it is one of our responsibilities to make sure we are not just producing noise. Any audible sound that is made from a vocalist or instrument is noise in itself, but what is its actual purpose? Why are we singing the chorus that way? Why does the bass player wait to come in until the 2nd verse? Now, I’m not trying to confuse musical dynamics with purposeful “noise”, but I do think the arrangements and dynamics play a vital role in what one hears. So according the reading, our goal is to speak in “prophecy” rather than “uninterrupted tongues”. This requires intentionality with everything that we do. We talked earlier in the semester about putting our song sets in order of theme and leading people to the cross of Jesus Christ. The gospel must be shared, evident, and easily tangible in our worship services. If our goal is on musical dynamics alone, without teaching and explaining the words, we miss the mark. I do believe by creating dynamics, intentionality with your theme and purpose, it changes noise into clarity. Here are a few questions I think would be helpful in evaluating the worship hour, after our services: “Was God given all the glory?” “Was the gospel proclaimed?” “Was the message clear?” If we can answer these questions with yes, then I believe we have been obedient.


  12. Posted by Russell Ward on November 4, 2012 at 3:41 am

    As I sat here reading through this great and informative paper I battled many noises around me. I re-read the same section several times because my daughter was blasting “high school musical” and dancing around while another family member was watching a football game. The reality of competing noises and worldviews is evident. We experience this competition everyday. The church is not exempt from this reality. In the church we have certain polyfurcations such as age,style and cultural differences which can be sources of tension and can lead to unhealthy divisions or splintering in the body of Christ. Of course we should be embracing the diversity. This is the gospel of relevance and contemporary thought. But, the beauty of diversity often is overshadowed by the competing noises. Everyone wants their noise to be the loudest and the most demonstrative. I think we can lose God in this whole process. God help us to be still and hear your voice among the dizzying chatter. We can find ways to categorize and organize our cultural noises into crisp,cogent little information modules, but the fact is we don’t have all the answers.We simply translate what we know. As the deconstructionist Derrida would say: “We are all mediators, translators”. The only thing we can or should do is give space for creation. By giving space we allow other voices to be heard and we give ourselves the opportunity to listen. The art of listening is under-appreciated and under-realized. Our technology and our agendas rapidly fill up all of the available spaces leaving us emotionally and psychologically drained of creativity, originality, and life-energy. We need God’s voice. We need to make his thoughts OUR thoughts and his voice OUR voice. How this happens is only relevant WHEN it happens. Our reflection and echo will be different every time because the surface changes. The context changes.God’s voice is the same.


  13. Posted by Stephen McAliley on November 5, 2012 at 2:04 am

    I am not a worship leader, and truth be told I am not a huge fan of the worship at my church. As one of the pastors at the church I do not share my personal preference with the congregation, instead I try to focus on worshiping God despite my personal taste. That being said, my church does draw a younger crowd but it also draws a large number of middle aged and older people. Our music is based in the culture of today and sometime borders on secular. Yes the words of the songs exalt God, but I feel like I am at a rock concert more than a worship service. The rub is I see the congregation worshiping God, they are participating in the service, they are singing and raising hands, so I ask myself who am I to judge what is worshipful and what is not. The bottom line is the way my church worships draws people to the service and hopefully to a closer relationship with God. The culturally engaged worship service works for South Florida and it works for what it is designed to be and that is very seeker friendly.
    We do have a traditional worship service with a choir and hymns that still draws 400 on any given Sunday. That is a number many churches would love to see, and it is in an area where culturally that style is not what is popular. The leadership at Church by the Glades firmly believes in what they do, the worship team is full of some of the most committed Christians I know, and they church is firmly set in its style of worship. By no means is this what other churches should do and I believe if we try to please too many different groups we become watered down and ineffective in reaching people in the name of Jesus Christ. The only way I know to do this is work with the leadership, understand the congregation and create a worship environment the consistently glorifies God regardless of the style chosen. The leadership then needs to be resolved in sharing the vision with the congregation.


    • Posted by brian marbury on November 12, 2012 at 2:48 am

      I really appreciate a number of things that you’ve shared. One, I appreciate your honesty and transparency (something I find to be extremely lacking in the church today). Two, I appreciate your heart and selfless attitude towards the style of worship at your church. What you see is people being drawn to worship God and you’re cool with that. Three, I appreciate your support of the staff and leadership. Fourth, I think that sharing the vision with the congregation is paramount. The people need to know where they’re being steered. They need to know this so they can get on board with you and the leadership and support what is going on.


  14. Thanks for a great read and insight towards worship in a manner I had not thought of before. Some particular points that jumped out at me were as follows.

    1) Aristotle’s view on performance I think serves as a great reminder to all those who lead their congregation in worship music. Performance is an art and not a display of an individuals skill level. This point has probably been repeated time and time again throughout this course, but we must remember that we are worshipping God when we play music, it is never about us.

    2) I found myself asking the question “Is excellence based on cultural expectations?” This is a difficult question to answer. For example, suppose there was a well written, theologically sound, technically superb, God glorifying hip hop song. Does this become a ‘bad’ piece of music if played to a group of people (a culture) that does not appreciate this kind of noise? It would seem so because the music piece has suddenly lost the impact it was meant to have. Therefore I think that cultural relevance is of utmost importance when it comes to music.

    3) The idea of creating a multigenerational model of worship would be wonderful but at the same time it sounds somewhat utopian. Perhaps the only time where we will all be able to worship freely with the same zeal and passion is when we all go to be with the LORD. However, this doesn’t mean to say that this is something that we should give up on. Generations and cultures need to be able to worship together, and this is something that needs to be taught and learned by the people. Otherwise the very thing that is supposed to bring the family of God together actually becomes a tool for division.


  15. Posted by Tim Johnson on November 5, 2012 at 5:07 am

    The example given of the turmoil among the church at Corinth goes to show that conflict in the church is not merely a contemporary issue. The authors of this article nail it on the head by saying that the church should be the last place we should find “war” taking place among believers. However, we continue to debate amongst ourselves as to which style of music should be used in our worship services. At the church where I serve it is possible for me to hear someone say “I would really like to hear more hymns in worship” and also hear someone else say “We need to do more of the newer stuff” all in the same day. These suggestions are typically based upon individuals and their personal preferences. Someone may like the clarity of the doctrine in the old hymns while others may prefer the aesthetically pleasing and interesting music of some of the more contemporary worship songs. Beauty and clarity are both very important elements in our worship services. If we lean more towards clarity then the tendency is that the music becomes boring and elementary. However, if we lean more towards aesthetics and interest then the tendency is that the clarity of the message is decreased greatly. The ultimate success would be to find a balance between interest and clarity. We must not slack in our message as worship leaders in the name of artistic creativity; however, we must use our God-given creativity in order to present the message in an interesting way.
    I believe that it is important for us as worship leaders to not go into a ministry position at a church with our own personal preferences at the forefront. Rather, we must take a look at the culture in which we serve. Although the message itself is not to be changed, the way it is presented should be adjusted to fit the surrounding cultural expectation while blending together beauty and clarity in worship.


  16. This was a very interesting article. I’ve grown up in Southern Baptist churches all my life with most of those being rural churches that were very hymn based. My dad was the pastor of these churches, and my mom was always very involved in the music program. She would sing or have the family get up and sing a special. I loved the old hymns( and most were really old!), and that’s what we knew. In my world at that time that was the only songs that you could sing in church. My perception was that hymns were all that we could sing. As was brought out in the article, so much of the cultural noise that we experience comes from perceptions and preference. When we allow these two concepts two be the foundation for everything that we do, we may miss other things that the Lord has for us. This can be difficult because we can’t just get rid of perceptions and preferences. We will always be connected to them and will view our world through them. Yet as was said at the end of the article, we can overcome our fears related to these reservations through the Holy Spirits work of drawing people together in love and unity. If our churches are going to overcome the worship wars that exist, I believe that love and unity are going to have to become a part of every believers life. Love and unity is the vehicle by which we can look past our perceptions and preferences.


  17. Great paper, gentlemen. Glad to see such an informative review that bridges the gap between the Biblical worship world (from centuries ago) and our modern day church setting, while addressing the issues at hand.

    I loved the phrase “…the Bible always holds the greatest potential for helping the church revisit complex issues in a healthy manner.” As worship leaders/planners, we must know that the Word is our greatest measurement device for what we’re doing right and wrong. Yet, even though Scripture may be our great unit of measure, we still deal with people; flesh and bone, personality-driven individuals…who come from a plethora of generational and cultural backgrounds. In creating an environment where multi-generational, multi-cultural worship gatherings can thrive, we can’t overlook the fact that (as our professors put it): “Sensitivity or submission one to another is to be highly regarded in all aspects of dealing with merging music cultures.” Seeing worshipers of all ages, races, and cultures worshiping together–foregoing preferences and forgetting selfish desires (even if just for a moment)–is a beautiful sight. It’s something heavenly. And something I pray we’ll begin to see more of in the future.


  18. Posted by Rob Oglesby on November 7, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    We each have our own version of cultural noise. What is irritating or frustrating to one person in the way of worship may be a truly joyous experience to another. True worship comes without preference. True worship is encountering a holy, righteous, and just God. The author writes, “While a general acceptance of various cultural interpretations of worship music appears to be growing at least in concept, many evangelical churches in the US continue to struggle with cultural expectations.(16) Much of the modern day church seems to want to please a little bit of everyone, yet ends up pleasing no one. The problem is not with the worship leadership necessarily, but with much of the modern day church congregation. We want to be fed. Sharps says, “Worship is ‘what I like’ and ‘how I like it’”(Sharp 111). Worship leaders today need to appeal and reach the people, but first and foremost we must plan our worship settings to glorify God. Satan desires us to be distracted and to chase to wrong target.


  19. Posted by william allen on November 8, 2012 at 12:45 am

    I found this article fascinating as it helped me to understand why the generational divisions over what is acceptable worship can be so intense. Truly, what is worship for one sincere believer is truly cultural noise to another sincere believer. In my church there are very intense disagreements over the musical selections with senior citizens and some baby boomers very put off with certain forms of contemporary services which to them are “noise” and reminiscent of rock concerts and entertainment.The article helped me realize that I too need to work toward greater love and unity in my own heart as I find certain types of music “noise”. As the article suggested, the Holy Spirit can indeed help us as we strive for unity and humble ourselves in this matter. I must say I did find the comparison of the Corinthian issue and its four principles for intelligible worship to be extremely helpful in examining (for myself) what is noise and what is not. I believe Dr. Price provides one of the most helpful treatments I have seen.


  20. Posted by william allen on November 8, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Stacey, I liked your comment about generational appeal and the fact that we need to be mindful that as people age, their preferences will one day be “old people’s music”. The point is we do, as you state, need to be respectful of each other and realize that none of our preferences “came down from heaven” and that what is one’s worship music may be another’s cultural noise. All age groups and preferences need to be aware of this. I am thinking out loud that maybe our worship leader might do some teaching on this subject in our church to promote greater unity and humility.


  21. Posted by brian marbury on November 12, 2012 at 2:42 am

    “While a few purest Western art defenders might maintain superiority for Western art, an ever-increasing number of researchers and practitioners determine excellence in art based on cultural expectations germane to the genre being observed. Thus, culture becomes the lens through which art is judged.” (15) I love this because it reminds us that as worship leaders and pastors we need to keep a pulse on what is happening in the lives of our congregants and community. Local church bodies are not cookie cut. Every church is going to be different. We cannot simply create one method and ship it to every church. Each church is unique and its leadership must know the people and lead them to know Christ. The leadership is to direct people to the cross and a persons response to his or her relationship with Christ is going to overflow through the singing worship time.


  22. Posted by David Anderson on November 16, 2012 at 2:38 am

    We definately have to make sure that we are evaluating the way we do worship leadership. Culture changes over time as is evident throughout history, and it also differs from region to region. Therefore we have to constaintly evaluate how we are performing worship so that it is fully reaching the culture that we are in. I would not use the same songs we sing in the Southeast when I am on a missiontrip in Africa. This is the point that I am trying to make, that it will always differ from place to place and time to time so we have to make sure that we are constantly trying to maximize our worship impact.


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