When people fight over worship styles, I think…

Have you ever encountered that person who was convinced that there is only one appropriate way to hang a roll of toilet paper? Perhaps that person is you? If so, imagine that I am slowly backing away; no offense intended.

While people commonly develop preferences about proper toilet paper orientation (72% favor “Over” according to a poll conducted by Cottonelle in 2010), a smaller number obsess over it. 27% of “Overs” admit that the loose end hanging “under” bothers them enough that they will re-hang rolls even when they are guests in another’s home. 24% describe “being annoyed” as the feeling they experience.

overIn my experience, the only thing that really matters is whether the person before you replaces that empty roll they finished just before your emergency visit.

People get weird about worship styles as well. Sometimes we lose perspective and start to imagine that God cares about these things the way we do. At other times, we pretend that the absence of a particular style is the one thing that is keeping us from reaching new people (this is rarely the case). I’ve seen church people get downright ugly about worship that wasn’t how they expected it to be. And sadly I’ve seen well-intentioned leaders become frustrated with younger people who prefer more traditionally stylings (than the ones they’ve struggled to provide). 

In the midst of our preferences, and assumptions about what people want/need, we forget that while different approaches to worship can indeed reach new people, nothing can replace authenticity. And it is hard to authentically worship a God who is there for others when we are always thinking about ourselves.

In idolizing a particular worship style we miss the point and along the way we risk losing the purpose. And in designing something for another, who isn’t really a part of the planning, we always chance missing the mark. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have our preferences, or conversely never try new things, but in both we need to be truly open to the other (and not just for the sake of our survival).

Now hear the good news! Our God is big enough to use any worship style to help us to wipe the $#!t from our lives!

May we all grow more comfortable with difference while we work hard to keep it all in proper perspective. There is always good work for God’s church to accomplish; the orientation of our approach matters far less than if we are running on full or empty.

Author Info

Patrick Scriven

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I'm a husband who married well, a father of three amazing girls, and a seminary educated lay person working professionally in the church.

Image Credit: “Over” & “Under” orientations by Wikimedia user Elya, CC BY-SA 3.0. Text added.