There have been times in the church where the time of worship via music was viewed as less important and valuable than the time of worship through teaching and preaching. Occasionally, that can still be found to be the case in some of our churches. I believe that concept is part of the problem that has led to the "rockstar worship leader". Many worship leaders fell that their primary responsibility is to put on a show and make the music sound incredible. Please do not get me wrong; I am in no way advocating that music be mediocre or the excellence bar be lowered. Our Savior is worthy of our best and we should thus give that. What am I saying is that somewhere along the way the idea that the worship leader was, is, and should be a student of Scripture and a theologian has been lost.
I remember sitting in a meeting with several church planting pastors in Dallas about four years and there were all commenting on issues with their worship leaders not taking seriously the role of pastoring and teaching their people to worship. The pastors said that their "worship guys" seemed to be more interested in "putting on a good show". I was the only worship leader in the room...talk about awkward. I suggested to the pastors that they hadn't clearly laid out the expectations for those worship leaders and encouraged them in the right way. I said, "the only difference in what you guys do and what I do is that I have a guitar in my hand while I'm doing it."
This is so very true. The music that we play, sing, pray, and worship to on the weekend should reflect the glory of our God and tell the story of the Gospel of Christ. I heard Micheal Bleecker, the worship pastor at The Village Church, say once, "If the songs you're singing aren't telling the story of the Gospel, you need to be singing different songs." It is very important that the songs we sing share the story of Jesus in the same light that the Scriptures do. In 1 Timothy 4:16 we see the words of the Apostle Paul telling us to "keep a close watch" on ourselves and on "the teaching"..."for by doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers". We have to be sure that the songs we are singing line up correctly with the Bible.
For example, it's great to sing songs about how if we follow Christ all things will be wonderful and sunshine and daisies. It makes us feel good to think that being in church and trusting Jesus will magically make everything better. However, in reality, it doesn't always work out that way here on earth. When we sing songs in this fashion, we are walking dangerously close to the side of prosperity gospel which basically says, "come follow Jesus and you'll have everything you could ever want". That's just a lie.
Colossians 3:16 states that we are lift one another up in by singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankful hearts. There are many songs found in the Bible. We can look at the book of Psalms and see LOTS of them! Our song is important to the Lord.
The songs we sing are more than just songs. The music and the lyrics paint a picture of who God is. They portray is glory and majesty. In our pursuit of excellence in the song we display his creativity. The words in the songs we sing teach our church about God. They teach about his grace and his mercy. They teach about his power and might. "The Lord is My Rock", a song by Elevation Worship that we do regularly at FOTP, teaches us that though the world may be crazy around us, God is a firm foundation for us to rest on. We can find our footing with him and he will never move. He will give us a place to rest.
The hymn, "Jesus Paid it All" teaches about the process of redemption. It helps explain that only the blood of Christ can take away the darkness of our sin. It teaches that there was a price to be paid and that Jesus paid that price for us. It moves us to worship with a thankful heart because Christ has paid a price for us that we could not pay and now we are found holy, redeemed, and right before God.
Our songs teach about God and how we should worship him. It is important that worship leaders see the importance in that as we choose songs for our churches. It is important for our churches to see and understand that because it will help them continue to grow in their relationship with Christ. It will help them to learn the Bible more through the songs we sing and grow their faith as thankfulness increases in their (and our) hearts.
They are more than just songs...they are tools given the church to teach about the greatness, holiness, and glory of our Almighty God and King.