Music – Elements of Worship Series (Part 4)

Music.  You may be wondering what I could add to the conversation about music in worship.  I have written many articles regarding this topic on this blog and others, as well as within my book, The Life of Worship: Rethink, Reform, Renew.  Yet, it is precisely because there is so much written that we must continue to think carefully about worship music.

Let me remind us that the Apostle Paul stipulates the purpose for music in worship in Colossians 3:16:

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Note that our use of music in worship is experienced on multiple levels.  “Teaching and admonishing” are how we interact with one another, back-and-forth, in a horizontal fashion.  This makes music a relationship between those gathered in worship.  Not only are we addressing God in worship, but also one another.  And music used in this way is for encouragement, teaching and preparation for holy living.

This relational aspect of worship and music is confirmed in the previous verse in which Paul reminds us of the unity of the Body of Christ.  The plural and communal terminology in this passage can help us when we avoid thinking that it is written to the individual Christian.  Rather, think of the fact that when Paul says, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you,” that he is thinking of the gathered community, rather than the individual Christian.  The you refers to “you people” (plural).

Paul also tells us that we are singing “with thankfulness in our hearts to God.”  This vertical aspect of worship is the one that most people understand, and the one in which many churches are imbalanced.  We certainly must worship God and direct our worship toward Him in song, prayer, and any other appropriate responses.  However, to exclusively do so in a worship service is to ignore the important horizontal elements already discussed.

All of this takes thinking, planning and review in preparation for worship.  As the music chosen for each service supplements the theme for the day, we must seek to balance both the vertical and horizontal aspects in our use of music.  We must worship God with our whole hearts, and express our love for Him when we sing.  We also must encourage, teach and prompt one another with our music as we week more sacredness in our lives, that we might truly be honoring to the God that we worship.


For more of Mark’s writing, see his book list at


Posted on February 2, 2015, in Christian Worldview, Content of Worship, Corporate Worship, Leadership, theology, Worship Leader and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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