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For the past 30 years—as a parishioner, pastor, songwriter, musician, and now seminary professor—I have witnessed what some have called the "worship wars" raging in our churches. Many churches continue to be torn asunder because of questions like these: Shall we sing "traditional" hymns or "contemporary" choruses, or both? Shall we accompany our singing with organ and piano only, or with guitars and, gasp, even drums? As we sing, shall we lift our hands or only our voices? Shall we read our lyrics by looking into a hymnal or by looking up at text projected on a screen?

We desperately need theological discussions of worship in general. But what many congregants want is something more practical and immediate—a coherent and biblical understanding regarding the songs we sing and the instruments we use in worship.

1
Our heavenly Father wills that the whole
life of believers should be worship.

Jesus made clear, in John 4, that worship is not an activity limited to certain places or times. Rather, worship is the 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, vocation of all believers. God is Spirit-unbounded by constraints of time or space—and thus his worshipers must worship him everywhere and at all times (John 4:23-24).

Furthermore, that which God requires he powerfully provides for. For with his reference to an hour that is at once both "coming" and "now here" (v. 23, ESV), Jesus presents a theme central to John's Gospel: The Holy Spirit would soon be poured upon all believers, and would permanently indwell us (see John 7:39 and 14:16-17), making us living temples of the living God.

Any discussion of worship, then, must begin with the biblical concern for worship as lifestyle, not merely as a formal gathering that features ...

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