Relevance in worship. Is it Biblical?

When I hear people talking about relevance in worship, I mostly hear people talking about music styles: “we worship this way because this is the audience we have” or “we worship this way because this is the audience we want to reach.”  For youth worship we worship one way and we worship another way with old people in the name of relevance.

Is there a Biblical command for this way of thinking?

Doug Goins in his article titled “Relevance and Irrelevance in Worship” says:


“Jesus addresses this issue in the Gospels, and it is central to the passage we are studying. What is important and unimportant in corporate worship? John 4:16-26 deals with relevance and irrelevance in worship.”

The passage:

John 4:16-26 NIV:

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

I’m not convinced that this is at all about relevance in worship, though, you might disagree if you read his article.

What is the Biblical precedent for making our worship offering relevant to the people in our congregations?  I have some ideas here, but most of them are philosophical applications and observations and not anything real concrete.

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One Response to “Relevance in worship. Is it Biblical?”

  1. Brent O'Connor Says:

    Relevance for the sake just relevance sake isn’t Biblical. It’s a heart issue, where is your heart? If the leaders in the church just want to have a contemporary worship service so they can make their church bigger and be the hip and cool church in town then their heart is in the wrong place. If the church wants to have traditional worship just because that’s the way they’ve always done it and they don’t want to offend the two people in the church that said they would leave if they changed the style then the leaderships heart is in the wrong place. If people on the contemporary side look down on the traditional people or vice versa then the heart is in the wrong place.

    Whatever worship style is chosen it should be chosen because you want to bring people to Jesus and it should also be a style that allows people to sing to Jesus and not think about what style they are singing. The worshiper should be able to sing and give their song up as a praise offering and do it in a way that allows them to only think about Him!

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