One of the primary emphases in worship and music Sunday School class has been to distinguish between principles and preferences. Many battles over worship have been fought over critical aspects of our faith, but many in recent history have been waged over preferences, stylistic concerns, and music.
Scripture offers us very little about the specifics of our corporate gatherings. We know that early believers "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42). But how should we teach? What does the fellowship look like? Was the breaking of bread a full meal, a symbolic remembrance of Jesus' death or some conceptual combination of both? Principles are guiding concepts that come from the overall teaching of Scripture. These principles will have multiple expressions depending on the time in history and cultural location.
Saying that worship songs should be based on the language and themes of Scripture is a principle, but saying that worship songs should always utilize an organ, band, or synthesizer is a preference. Universal principles should be applicable in all points and locations in history - from the house church risking persecution to the cathedral or from the first century church to the twenty-first century church.
Anthony is the Director of Music and Worship at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Asheville, NC.
Recommended Music for Worship
Keith & Kristyn Getty
You Are What You Love
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Future of Humanity
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness
The Tipping Point
With One Voice
Look and Live
Rhythms of Grace
The Worship Architect
The Stories We Tell
Music Though the Eyes of Faith
Christ Centered Worship