N.T. Wright on Worship + Recommendations

As I wandered aimlessly through the small corner of the Internet that is Christian video clips, I stumbled  upon this video of N.T. Wright discussing worship music that I found particularly stirring as well as challenging. Wright says:

“I remember puzzling about that, as a young man, it was easier to write protest songs rather than celebration songs. I think now it’s easier to write worship songs which are basically like teenage love songs and there’s a lot of worship songs that are basically about me and Jesus falling in love. And, you know, that’s fine. But as I’ve often said to teenagers, the point of falling in love is it’s like striking a match, which is a very exciting thing to do, in order then to light a candle with it. A candle is not as initially exciting as a match, but actually it’s a very beautiful thing and, if you look after it, it’ll last a whole lot longer.”

Worship Songs from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

I remember Matt Papa making a similar point in his blog as he called for Christian DJs to change their playlists to a set of songs that grow a desire in the listener to glorify the gospel more than the desire to sit on Jesus’ lap while he rocks them to sleep. Papa writes,

Songs….”christian” songs….are sermons people remember.  You forget a sermon in a couple weeks.  You remember a song forever.  Aristotle said, “give me a nation’s songs and I care not who makes it’s laws”.  Music matters.  Things with Jesus’ name tacked on them matter.  Theology matters.  And christian radio is hugely influencing the music people are aware of, and the songs that churches are singing.

Read the rest of that blog here.

I do think that it’s very important what we say in worship. I have never been an advocate of a certain *style* of music. I care little, though I do care, about the style of music churches use for worship. What I do think matters is what is said in worship. In class with Dr. Donald Whitney, he said something that stuck with me. He said (and this is a paraphrase), “In the Scriptures, God has told us how he wants to be worshipped and what for.” In that small statement is a freight load of truth. God cares how we worship him.

What I find especially beautiful is actually the great variety in styles for how we worship while still being faithful to the Scriptures and the gospel itself. I’d like to end this short post simply by making a few recommendations from different styles:

  • For a “traditional sound” of mere hymns and a piano, check out Bob Kauflin live at Together for the Gospel here.
  • For a group with much more of a modern, indie band, style look no further than my favorite worship album “The Water and The Blood” from Sojourn Community Church. (Link has full album available for listening!)
  • For a contemporary worship feel, Austin Stone Community Church provides us with one of the most stirring albums of the past few years in “Austin Stone Live”, complete with original songs and not simply an assortment of typical covers and classical rewrites.
  • For that hard-rock “I-wanna-worship-Christ-as-loudly-as-I- can” feel, I recommend the man quoted above, Matt Papa and his newest album “This Changes Everything” which is truly a gospel bomb on the Christian radio playground. Also, check out my review.

So what do you think? How ought the Christian church to worship? Have you ever been in a worship service and had that “what-the-heck-are-we-singing-about-and-why” moment? Tell me about it in the comments!

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