This week’s Sounds of Freedom comes from Lydia. She opens up her heart to share her feelings on worship music today.
Confession: I love worshipping. I don’t always love worship music.
After much discussion and debate with friends, worship leaders and pastors, I’ve concluded that I am not a lone wolf and that, in fact, there is a chronic affliction amongst this pack of the musically-minded in our inability to connect in worship.
Having grown up in a Vineyard church in the midlands, the core Vineyard value of worship and the emphasis on creativity within our movement runs through my veins. I’ve been blessed over many years with wonderful worship leaders, worshipful friends and different expressions and experiences of worship wherever I have visited or lived. I’m a passionate pursuer of Jesus and a bit of a music fiend, so I find it extremely irritating when I arrive at church to worship and find myself unable to concentrate, distracted not only by the thoughts of the week but by the musicality of it all: by bands lacking direction from their leaders, by arrangements that don’t quite work and by my frustration with myself for not seizing the opportunity to worship.
I often listen to secular music and find many of the lyrics and melodies easy to worship God with, so why is it that I sometimes find it easier to worship God in a basement full of sweaty twenty-somethings who are there to worship the band? I believe it is because God has made me for worship. If He has inspired creativity in me then no wonder I am drawn to places where heaven-given melodies flow and lyrics written by troubled souls unknowingly sing of His goodness. Of course I was also made for corporate worship, to come together with the body of Christ but I must remember I was made for worship in the everyday and not feel guilty for my current struggle to connect during a church service.
Through live albums, where the passion for Jesus is contagious, I am re-learning to worship without distraction.
When asked for secular album recommendations, it can take me days to consider a piece that has had an impact on my life and that might be appropriate for that particular friend at that particular moment in life. I do not want to give glib advice when my passion for music is so key to how I live! When I apply my rule of thumb to recommending Christian music, I struggle. I draw a blank because if I couldn’t recommend a piece of Christian music to my non-Christian friends then I often wouldn’t listen to it myself. Cheesy, poorly-produced, repetitive and boring are words that typically come to mind when thinking about such albums. There are, of course, many exceptions to my general dislike of Christian music that would make my friends cringe, and these have been reshaping my understanding of the sound of Christianity!
As Dave mentioned in a previous post, Elevation Worship have been turning out some beautiful things, Bethel and the new Hillsong albums have been inspiring in my worship times at home – usually in the shower where I can get away with singing as loudly as I like! Special mention should go to Dave Miller at Trent Vineyard for his role in the amazing live album ‘Rooftops’ from the national Vineyard youth conference ‘Dreaming The Impossible’ and to the Hillsong We Are Young & Free album from 2013, which reimagined and inspired youth worship in many churches across the globe.
If one thing pulls me out of this struggle to connect, it is the reminder of my God-given purpose. I was put here to bring Him glory and I will therefore continue to learn to engage in worship. The power of God’s presence as we worship together and in the quiet of our hearts will never cease to amaze me.
Through the trials of life I’m sometimes asked why I worship and in my response I am reminded of a quote I once heard: ‘Sometimes you worship because you believe it and sometimes you worship until you do.’ In my journey to reconnecting with worship music, I will continue pressing into God’s love, hungry for more of His presence, worshipping in spite of and also because of this life.
I will worship because God is ALWAYS good and that is reason enough to teach my broken human heart to worship Him.
Lydia Johnston is 22 years old and studying Biomedical Science at York Uni. Her favourite worship song is Do it Again by Elevation Worship