As a worship leader, I have gotten used to the “worship wars” debate over song selection for worship services. I understand that people have different musical preferences, and that it can be genuinely difficult to worship in an unfamiliar genre. I have come to appreciate the grace that our congregation shows here at Stevens Street as we seek to introduce unfamiliar hymns and songs of many different styles during our services. Musical style is never a primary factor in how we choose the songs for our worship services, though it is a necessary consideration. Far more important is the substance of the song; we must ensure that we are singing true things to and about our God (John 4:24).
This week, though, I got to experience the flip side of this. Attending FUGE camp with our youth group last week, one of the main songs that was played nearly every day in the worship services was “How He Loves“, written by John Mark McMillan. Though this is a wildly popular worship song right now (particularly among young people), I have always sort of hated it. This is a bit unusual for me, because I have some really eclectic musical tastes, and generally only dislike songs if their lyrics are unbiblical or trite. This song’s lyrics are neither.
Before this week, I hadn’t given much thought to why I disliked this song. I just resolved that, as much as was up to me, we wouldn’t sing it here. Since we were singing this song so much at camp, though, I devoted some time to studying it, and attempted to determine why it struck such a bad chord with me. A funny thing happened, though. The more time I spent with it, the more it grew on me. So let me share with you a few of the reasons why I believe I initially disliked this song, and how I was able to resolve those issues and finally worship freely and truly through this song by the end of the week.