No one likes dry, dull, emotionless worship. God included. Sometimes, we express our desire in this regard to be for “meaningful” worship. That is an outstanding goal. Even in the often turbulent realm of discussion and debate over worship, virtual consensus reigns on this point. The explosion (of divergent ideas, philosophies, approaches and even tempers) comes when answering the question of how to make worship meaningful.
There is, of course, a large chorus of voices calling for a course of action directed at adding emotional punch to the worship. What is it that connects and stirs people emotionally? Often, cues are taken from the entertainment world. This industry, by necessity, is quite savvy to what connects with people. The problem here, beyond the obvious superficiality, is that the public’s taste is constantly changing. What satisfied (and sold) yesterday, may not do so today. Is “meaning” really that fickle?
A better approach is to ask the question what is it about worship that gives meaning? Is it not the very being of God and His gracious act of providing salvation from sin through Jesus Christ? Is not meaning heightened as our understanding and appreciation of God and all that He has done increases? And what’s more, the depth of meaning is limitless as we will never fully comprehend and appreciate, this side of eternity, God and all He has done. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom. 11:33)”.
That being said, does it not also make sense for contemporary man to give expression in contemporary language as he praises and extols the greatness of God? Is there any reason for modern Christians to be bound only to psalms, hymns and spiritual songs penned one, two, three or four or more centuries ago? Neither, though, is there any valid reason to abandon these beautiful and, dare we say, meaningful expressions of faith from centuries gone by.
So, in pursuit of the meaningful, it appears that focusing on what gives meaning would be the sensible approach. But we don’t have to rely solely on former generations to give expression to worship.