Christian worship is the heart-felt expression of supreme worth which believers ascribe to God; it is the expression of gratitude, from the redeemed to their Redeemer, for His finished work through the cross. While there are many ways in which worship to God is expressed, worshiping Him through music is a wonderful gift from God.
At Countryside, we love to sing together and are intentional in the way we worship God through music in our corporate gatherings. We desire our corporate expression of worship through music to be:
God is the center of our gatherings and we come together for one purpose; to exalt Him. We believe that all things are from Him, through Him, and to Him (Romans 11:36). The purpose and preparation of our worship time together each Sunday seeks to reflect this reality by intentionally keeping God, not man, at the center of our worship.
God desires for those who worship Him to do so “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). When we worship in song we are putting Biblical truth to music. The music we use in worship is intended to proclaim truth clearly, richly, and accurately. An emotional experience, without a foundation in truth, is meaningless. However, an emotional response to the truth brings glory to God. At Countryside we want our gatherings to be truth-saturated, not only in the preaching of God’s Word but in the singing of His truth as well.
The purpose of worship is singular: to exalt and praise the worth of God. Fulfilling this purpose comes together in a combination of elements. Worshiping in song as a body of believers is to be a sacrifice of sound as we declare the glory of God and express hearts of gratitude and praise to Him. Worshiping in song also is to teach God’s truth, admonish believers, and encourage the family of God. At Countryside we want to be biblically purposeful in praising the Lord through the means of music.
The supreme worth of God demands to be expressed by worship that is passionate. God-exalting lyrics that are born-along by music serve to fan the flames of passion for God in the hearts of those who worship. At Countryside we desire that the music we make to praise our God is earnestly passionate and sincere.
Uninhibited and Considerate
Expressing a heartfelt passion for God may look different from one person to the next. God is pleased when we abandon the fear of man which can easily inhibit our expressions of worship and then freely express our love for him. However, it is also possible to be expressive in worship and still be displeasing to God when our expressions of worship stem from wrong motives. A variety of expressions in worship are modeled and taught in Scripture. Therefore, whether we are lifting our hands (Psalm 134:2), clapping and singing loudly (Psalm 47:1), playing musical instruments (Psalm 150:1-6), standing in awe (Psalm 22:3), or engaging in other biblical expressions of worship, we must always seek to express our heartfelt passion for God with sincerity.
It is also important to be aware and considerate of the setting
in which we are praising the Lord. To become a hindrance or a distraction to others in our individual
expressions of worship, does not accomplish our purpose in gathering together corporately
for worship. At Countryside we desire to cultivate authentic, uninhibited worship which takes into consideration the setting of corporate praise and avoids distracting from our God-centered corporate purpose.
Excellent and Authentic
Just as God is worthy of worship that is nothing less than heartfelt and passionate, He is worthy of worship that is nothing less than excellent. We are instructed to “play skillfully” (Psalm 33:3) when we make music in worship of God. At Countryside we strive for excellence in music by encouraging those who participate in our music ministry to prepare well and to continue to grow in musical skill. We strive for authenticity that reflects a desire for excellence to the glory of God.
Reverent and Celebratory
There are many facets to the kind of worship that we express to a multifaceted God. He is the holy, immortal, all-wise, all-powerful, worthy, King of Kings. As sinners who approach the one who dwells in inapproachable light–the one who is creator and judge of all mankind–we approach Him in worship reverently.
However, the Bible also commands us to exult, to shout for joy, and to be glad in our musical praise. We have been redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ and have entered into an intimate Father-son relationship with God. These different aspects of our worship are much like the facets of a precious stone; each contributing to the beauty of God’s design for Christian worship. Worship at Countryside seeks to demonstrate both of these attitudes (reverence and joy) in our gatherings.
Non-exclusive and Participatory
We live in a culture that is enamored with entertainment and is saturated with performers. However, bringing this mindset into our worship of God makes worship an exclusive enterprise and promotes an “audience/performer” kind of atmosphere. At Countryside we reject this approach and consider corporate worship to be corporate
. Therefore it is to be non-exclusive and participatory.
Unified within Diversity
When considering what style of music is to be used for worship, unity is very important to us. We do not wish for music to become divisive or discouraging to any of God’s worshipers, but rather, be something that unites the hearts of worshipers together. Therefore, our commitment is to develop a style of worship that best compliments the culture of our congregation (both young and old) and to teach these generations to strive towards unity in the singing of God’s praise, regardless of personal preferences.
However, seeking to maintain unity by abstaining completely from one generation’s preferences in order to avoid contention is unacceptable. We are told to “count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). If the spirit of preferring one another is attained by the various generational elements of a church then it will be reflected in the balance of musical preferences.
Due to the nature of sin and selfishness, people tend to become resentful when their personal preferences are not accommodated. Personal musical preferences are not wrong, but when they are pitted against someone else’s personal musical preferences in a corporate setting, they can become alienating and divisive. God is not more impressed or pleased by music that sounds traditional than He is with music that sounds modern, nor vice versa. Since worship is about Him, preferences must be set aside to allow for the heartfelt expression of all who worship. There is as much spiritual benefit from newer, theologically accurate worship music as there is in older, theologically accurate worship music.
Musical styles come and go but God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The style in which we worship God in song will change with time, however God is constant and unchanging. While we are not interested in “keeping up” with every new and latest trend, we do worship God in a unique cultural setting. The music we use in worship should reflect how Christ steps into a culture and redeems for Himself a people who worship Him as they were created to do.