How Do You Worship When You Don’t Like The Music?
How do you worship when you don’t like the worship music?
It’s Sunday morning. You’ve said your awkward hellos to people you barely know or haven’t met before. You finally find your seat and sit down only to be told to stand up. You know it’s time to worship God through music and you begin singing along. But something doesn’t feel right. Maybe you just “can’t get into worship” or you think, “These lyrics are really not striking a chord with me.” Well shoot…what do I do? Do I just stand there and hum the words? Do I get on my knees and pretend to be spiritual? WHAT DO I DO WHEN I DON’T LIKE THE SONG?
True story, I once served in a church where there was a staff member who did not like the “newer” songs we were playing. And by newer, I mean like late 90’s early 2000s songs. So this person came to us with multiple reasons, but by the end of their deliberation they were in tears. Not because the music was bad, not because the lyrics were bad, not because of anything other than the songs were new and they didn’t know how to sing along.
Worship music is a highly contested area, and rightfully so. I believe worship music should be held to the same standards as the sermon. A friend of mine commented on a recent post saying, “the Kingdom is at stake.” And while a portion of her comment was in retort to my point, I agree 100%. The Kingdom is absolutely at stake. Worship music, like sermons, penetrate our souls. Part of how we worship God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength during the week stem from our worship times on Sunday morning. So when we have poor theology in our worship music, we’ll have poor theology in our actual worship which trickles into our behaviors, mindsets, etc.
For example, I recently commented on two different worship songs. All of which are great in the right context. The first was, “All your promises are Yes and Amen.” I love this song. It’s beautiful. But God’s yes and amen are not always in regards to a financial or material blessing. Jesus promised that the disciples (and many of us) would be persecuted because of Him. That’s not a suggestion – it’s a promise. There are countless promises in the Bible where God promises something that isn’t necessarily what the authors wanted. I’m sure Peter didn’t want to be hung on a cross upside down in Rome. But God’s promises are Yes and Amen.
The second song I took issue with was King of My Heart. Once again, it’s a beautiful song, but there’s a big section of lyrics in there that I just cannot sing: “You’re never gonna let me down.” I’m really glad that God has never let down Stephanie Gretzinger. But God has most certainly let me down. And if God has let me down, someone who is a Christ-follower and a semi-pseudo-leader in the church, how much more has He let down people off the street who have WAY WORSE backgrounds and stories than I do? Let’s go back to God’s promises for a second. God never says he will never let us down. God DOES say, however, that he will never leave us or abandon us. Jesus reiterates this to us right before His ascension in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The promise of God is that in the worst of times, in the valley of the shadow of death, when hell has been unleashed on our world, the Good Shepherd comes for us and is always with us through the trials. Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, the 3 Babylon Boys (sounds more fun than Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego), Peter, Paul, etc. etc. etc. God let them down. He did not snap them out of their harsh trials and situations they had to endure. Their lives did not go the way they wanted them to go. Things went horribly wrong! But in the midst of infertility, in the midst of slander, in the midst of lions, in the midst of fire, in the midst of persecution Jesus shows us that He is right there with us. To be fair, God never failed them because ultimately, God’s plan is worked out for the good of all who trust Him (Romans 8:28).
I’ve been disappointed with how God has allowed my life to go these last few years. And in spite of those years, He’s always with me. Though I’m disappointed, God has not failed me because His plans for my life are constantly being worked out for His Kingdom even when I don’t feel like it. He never leaves me or forsakes me when I’m going through hardship. He doesn’t guarantee that things will go the way I want and sometimes that means I’m being let down in terms of my own desires and plans. But God’s plans are so much greater than my own and that’s why I continue to worship Him. Even in the trials, the brokenness, the shame, and everything else that gets thrown at me, I press through in worship As Herbrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
There are probably a million examples out there of why someone doesn’t like a worship song. The music is weird. The lyrics are bad or don’t resonate. It’s too loud. It’s too low. It’s not doctrinally sound. We’ve all criticized the worship music. So what do we do when one or more of these items are crossed off our list and we’re struggling to make it through? Short of leaving the entire service, I want to offer some ways to push through that have worked for me in the past.
Now, to clarify and establish the focus, this is how to push through a worship song/set. I’m not going to tell you what to do if the song is theologically poor or you think the music is too loud…or too new. That’s between you and God. So these are specifically for what to do in those moments and how to worship God in spite of how you are feeling/thinking.
1. Take A Minute
If you’re able to, take a minute and go into the hallway. Grab some water. Get some fresh air. Do what you need to do to get yourself out of the situation for a minute.
2. Ask God
Are you out of there yet? Good! Ask yourself why this song is bothering you. Is it a preference thing? Is the song theologically poor? Is it too loud or low? Does it just irk you the wrong way? Ask God to reveal that answer to you and take a minute to just be present with Him.
There are two options from here. You may need to just stay out of the sanctuary for the song or you can get back in there. If you choose to stay out, don’t find out how many likes you got on Facebook. Take the rest of the song to journal or pray. We all speak to God in different ways in different situations. I like to journal my prayers to God because I like to communicate that way. But don’t stop spending time with the Lord.
4. Keep Worshipping!
No matter the situation, worship God. Often times, when I’m struggling, I’ll sit down and pray or get on my knees and pray. Ultimately, those moments are for me and God. Regardless of the song being sung, my responsibility is to give honor, praise, and glory to Jesus. Music is a catalyst to help you worship God but you don’t NEED music to worship. So focus on Jesus. Find ways to praise Him. Find people to pray for. The worst thing you can do, and it’s something I’m super guilty of, is stop worshipping.
If you live in America, you’ve been given one of the most incredible gifts in this world: the freedom to worship Jesus with little persecution. You aren’t always going to like a worship song. That’s totally okay. What’s not okay is when you waste that precious time. There are people who are dying for their right to worship Jesus every week, so please do not take the time to worship every Sunday for granted.
I hope it never happens for you, but if you do find yourself in a place where you don’t like a worship song or set, I hope these steps will help you. Remember, whatever you do, don’t stop worshipping and don’t stop pursuing God!
About Justin Boothby
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About The Author
Justin is a lifelong student who loves to travel, film, write, design websites, and life coach. Most importantly he loves to Pastor in all different kinds of ministry settings. He’s also an avid pizza lover, metalcore listener, and shot glass collector.
M.A. Hebrew University of Jerusalem
M.Div. Regent University
B.S. Southeastern University