A Sweet, Sweet Sound

A Sweet, Sweet Sound
Travis Cottrell

How old do you have to be to become a Pharisee? Or a legalist? Or an outright religious hypocrite? I think I might have been one of those when I was a kid. Okay, I was one of those when I was a kid.

I was born into a family of Christians who went to church every time the doors opened. I knew Jesus at an early age. So I must have subconsciously taken that as a sign that I could wear the “Christian” badge. Many of my beliefs were mere opinions at first, but sincere enough to harden into convictions sincerely legalistic convictions, that is. And they naturally flowed into my music life.

One day when I was a young teenager a church-music nerd teenager our church’s choir director tried something different. And it caught me off guard. I was sitting on the front row, waiting for church to start, expecting things to proceed as they should: call to worship, hymn of praise, welcome and announcements, children’s sermon, offertory hymn, offering, choir special, message, hymn of invitation, benediction, and lunch. The bulletin confirmed my expectations: the congregation would sing at three points, all straight from the hymnal.

The choir came in as usual and began to sing the simple strains of the then-new worship song “I Love You, Lord.” I liked it. Then the director turned to the congregation and said, “Let’s all sing that together.” What? I thought. It’s not in the hymnal! It’s not in the bulletin! How can we do this? This feels weird.

The congregation began singing; the piano and organ eventually dropped out, leaving just the sound of those voices ringing off the white walls and stained glass of that small Baptist church sanctuary. It was beautiful. I eventually found myself singing along, and my soul the soul of an obnoxious, opinionated teenager was quieted in the presence of the Lord like never before. I was caught off guard, not only by the change in the worship, but even more by my own response. Worship could be different and still be worship. A turning point

That morning’s worship surprise was a turning point for me the catalyst for a paradigm shift in my understanding of the meaning of true corporate worship. And the change it began in me was so monumental that it carries my calling to this day. I now wonder how I could have been so caught up in the form and order of things that I would overlook the movement of the Spirit, a movement that can come when we open our hearts to the unexpected. How often do our confining perceptions of corporate worship hold us back from truly communing with God through music? How often do those same constrictions bleed into other areas of our beliefs and our lives?

It often happens without our even noticing. What we learn as children can lock itself into our brains as the true template when in reality, we may simply be inheriting a manmade tradition of “the way things always ought to be.” When the Spirit moves in a different way, some of us dig in our heels, refusing to believe that what we learned first might not be the whole picture.

Or, our resistance may be more a matter of personal preference than early imprinting. A music style might not be to our taste. We may take issue with the pastor’s sermons because of mannerisms, rather than the content. We may resist a biblical principle because of the way it’s presented rather than its actual truth.

This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.

This article A Sweet, Sweet Sound by Travis Cottrell was excerpted from: www.christianitytoday.com web site. December 2010. It may be used for study & research purposes only.