What I Love About The Worship Music Wars

David Santistevan —  — 10 Comments

My first introduction to worship music was not a pretty one.

I¬†was forced to listen to it. I can remember the opening strains of “Change My Heart Oh God” like a knife in the heart. This was the music I could listen to?

Not the soundtrack an eleven year old boy wants to hear.

But eventually, I grew to love worship music. Mainly, because something happened to me.

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I encountered God. What happens when you encounter God? You’re never the same.

Worship music became something much more personal – a guide to my growth in Jesus. It was less about the coolness of the music and more about the character of God I was discovering.

Certain artists, albums, and songs helped define my experience with God. Worship music brought my heart into alignment with my purpose.

I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for worship music.

I know that sounds dramatic and obvious for a worship leader to say, but I couldn’t be more honest. The reason I lead worship is because I encountered Jesus. And certain songs have served me well.

What about you?

What I Love About the Worship Wars

If you’re puzzled by that last heading, let me explain. I don’t love it when people fight about music, style, and whether pounding drums are a viable call to worship.

I’m not a fan of church splits and animosity between the young and old generations.

I love that music is close to people’s hearts. I love that at 75 year old Grandmother has her music – music that echoes as a soundtrack to her walk with God. I love that the 16 year old fireball for Jesus has music that defines his experience too.

Worship songwriters throughout history have given voice to their generation.

Music stirs. Music encourages. Music defines. Music brings us back.

What’s the Point of all this Worship Music?

And that’s why I believe in creating worship music. There’s other music I could create, but I find there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing people sing about and experience Jesus.

Truth transforms. When people sing truth, it takes an even deeper root in their soul.

Our soon to be released album – Undying Love – is no different.

- I pray that those who listen to it encounter truth that silences the enemy’s lies.

- I pray that people become overwhelmed by the brightness of God’s glory – that the through these songs the “things of earth” will grow strangely dim.

- I pray that people sing these prayers at the top of their lungs – that they lose their voices at home, in their car, and on their iPhone – that the music spreads across the world, lighting a fire in hearts.

Think about it: there’s no shortage of worship songs. There’s no shortage of worship albums. And I love it. I pray there will always be more and more worship songs – more and more worship albums to give voice to the glory of God in every generation.

So instead of arguing about whether you like someone else’s worship music or not, take some time to appreciate the experiences with God that all this music represents.

And let’s believe for more. May every generation be defined by a unique work of God and may new songs continue to be birthed.

Question: What is your favorite worship album of all time? Why is it your favorite? Share yours in the comments!

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Photo Credit: Allison Park Worship Live Recording

10 responses to What I Love About The Worship Music Wars

  1. There has never been one worship album that was my favorite. There have been songs and groups or artists that I thought were impacting at the time. I have been heavily involved in church music since about 1965. I have seen styles change , I have seen terminology change, not only in Christian music, but in Christian vocabulary as well. About every 8 to 10 years (or less) , a new style or direction in Christian music is born. I do believe that the Church has an impact on society at large, but an ever decreasing influence. The church has become a reflection of society at large and therefore influenced by trends in society. As modern society and trends change faster, the trends within Church music change at an ever increasing pace. This is not necessarily wrong. It is what it is. After Adelle had such success at the Grammy Awards, within about 2 months there were Adelle clones on Christian radio. I think the situation is this. Not everyone has the same gift, the same audience (congregation), or the same music ministry. The challenge is to be the person God called you to be, aware of what your own talents, tastes, and gifts are. That determined who you were drawn by ( your favorite artist/album ). God knew what it took to get your attention. God knows who you will draw ( the people you minister to.) Christ said if He be lifted up, He would draw all men unto Himself. All I can do is trust that my heart is prepared and totally surrendered to Christ. If so, then my music is transparent enough, that they only see Jesus despite all my worries of generation , style, performance quality etc. God is constant, our music is not. God is forever, and our style is just a moment in time. Prepare, pray, study, practice, worship with Christ at the center. Trust God for the results. Easier to write the words than do ! !

  2. David, where has everyone gone?! Well, the list goes essentially in chronological order. Early was Hovie Lister and The Statesmen, The Blackwoods, Don Husted, John Peterson, Don Wyrtzen , then Bill Gaither. Next came Dallas Holm, Petra, Phil Keaggy and Amy Grant. I guess that was the most influential time period, when I realized it was possible to write good Christian music in a pop/rock style.Then came Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, and Jars of Clay, and early News Boys. Now we’re up to Selah, Jeremy Camp, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Lincoln Brewster, Third Day, and Need to Breath. I really like some of the earlier Newsboys and Need To Breath. The 2 people that influenced me the most were both worship leaders that I worked with under their direction for 20 something years out of the last 23. These 2 guys both were great musicians, excellent worship leaders, and probably the 2 finest Christian men I have known. They both met for the first time a few months ago and are in a home-group Bible study together. Their names are Larry Tardy and Rob Wren.
    Even though I held the position of worship leader a couple of times, I have always been an instrumentalist. I have always been driven, and active musically. But because I gave my life to Christ at such an early age, there were things I could not bring myself to do, just to get a gig.
    These 2 guys allowed me to use my gift at the height of my ability and focus, for the greatest of all reasons. That is to honor and glorify God and His Son, Jesus Christ. It was indeed a privilege to work with them both. I had once in a lifetime, back to back for 20 years.

    Where have all your other bloggers gone ? I miss reading the variety of comments.

  3. hmm.. hard to say which album, as it’s not really until the last 5 years or so that I’ve encountered it as albums, usually it was the context of songs in services.. but I’d probably go with the Getty’s first album – so many great, rich hymns, or perhaps EMU’s ‘We are his people’ album which first showed me that theologically deep songs could also have great music.
    Love the video, btw.

  4. I probably couldn’t nail down my all time favorite, but the one I remember most would be Passion – Our Love is Loud. That was pretty much what made me get into church music to begin with. I mean, Tomlin, Crowder, and I’ve played all those songs a thousand times.

  5. Darrel Evens album Let The River Flow and ” Freedom” Rocked me stared a new sound of worship back in the mid to late 90′s He was what got me in to being a worship leader I have meet him to great guy .

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