Mark Driscoll on the Trends in Worship Styles

Orginally published on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 7:43 AM
by Todd Rhoades

In a recent magazine interview Mark Driscoll was recently asked: "What trends in church and worship styles do you see? Are they positive or negative?" You might (or might not) be suprised by his response... (Mark ALWAYS has a way with words)...

“I’ll be happy when we have more than just prom songs to Jesus sung by some effeminate guy on an acoustic guitar offered as mainstream worship music. Right now most worship music is still coming from the top down through such things as Christian radio and record labels. But the trend today in a lot of churches is writing your own music to reflect your culture and community, and I pray this trend of music from the bottom up continues.”

SOURCE: RockWorship.com… read more here.

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FOR DISCUSSION: What do you think of Mark’s comments?  Agree or disagree?  What do you think worship music will look like in most churches (or in your church) in five years?

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  There are 31 Comments:

  • Posted by Josh R

    Somebody elsewhere in blogshere commented that this quote was :"Harsh, but not inaccurate” After thinking about it, I think that quote describes most of Driscoll’s preaching.

    Mar’s Hill puts it’s original music on the web for free.  It is kinda weird in my opinion. Maybe just because I am not from Seattle.  If I had to describe it, I would say it is “Harsh but not inaccurate” wink

  • Posted by Daniel

    I swear, I can’t read anything from Driscoll without seeing the words ‘effeminate’, ‘limp-wristed’ or ‘sissy’.  Must all that is not crass, rude, and brutish (this is, of course, an overgeneralization in the other direction) be seen as ‘unmanly’?  He genderizes everything!
    As usual, I generally agree with Driscoll, but his words grate on my ears.  Notice, he doesn’t even take a shot at the music (except for saying it’s ‘top-down’), but rather it’s an “effeminate guy on an acoustic guitar” which so offends his sensibilities.  You think pastor Mark would have learned by now.

    Anyway, I would love to hear powerful rock and hip-hop used as worship music (as well as Latin, Jazz, and Country), but of course, not every kind of song lends itself well to corporate singing… so there are limitations.
    I think Mark is correct in saying that that kind of change will have to come from the bottom up, through the congregations which use this or that style.

    My two cents,

  • Posted by Jeff M. Miller

    This fired me up. Here’s what I posted on the rockworship.com site:

    What a load! I’m sorry, but I’ll be the one to call him out on this one.

    “some effeminate guy on an acoustic guitar”

    I don’t care if he’s trying to make a point about one or two particular people or not, but he’s made a generalized statement that blanket covers worship leaders like myself. Way to build up the body.

    Not saying that he has this viewpoint, but I’m tired of the idea that “manly” is the guy who goes hunting, fixes his own car, watches football, and scratches his crotch. How’s that for a generalization?

    I’m sorry, but read in Scripture about the real men of God who weren’t afraid to pour out their heart to the Lord. Stand up and be a leader in the church, in the home. Love your wife and children. Serve, sacrifice. All else is vain, and does not a man make.

  • Posted by jawbone

    Obviously when you say something that is over the top you will rankle some people.  I would agree with Driscoll with a disclaimer.  Guys are different than girls.  Most guys like to get their hands dirty (thank God that metrosexual thing didn’t fully catch on).  They like to blow things up, they like to compete, they like action.  I would like to see more songs talk about victory, conquest, beating up the enemy for God, doing great exploits in HIs name.  Just to balance out so much of the touchy feely stuff.

    I have many favortie songs and chorus in the touchy feely category, I’m just looking for a little balance so that the gospel will be more appealing to men.

  • Posted by

    So much for Mark’s apology to the group that called him our (and wanted to picket Mar’s Hill) for his comments about Gayle Haggard.  Isn’t there something wrong with the spirit of a person when they couldn’t give a rip about how their words are received?

    Daniel makes a good point.  These are really not comments about worship music, but a criticism of the people producing worship music.


  • Posted by Leonard

    Wendi, be careful not to retry Mark by connecting his comments to Gayle when he himself said they were not in reference to her.  I know you are venting, but the picket was not directly related to Gayle but to a volume of words. 

    That said I will say two comments.  Driscoll spends the currency of influence to stir the pot instead of lead people.  This is very frustrating.  He is becoming an emergent form of MacArthur. 

    Secondly, Driscoll is in the metro-sexual capitol of the world.  Every time I am in Seattle I see men failing to embrace masculinity and embracing femininity.  Much of my experience with the emergent has this as an issue as well.  His words come from a context.  With that said I wish he would also get a clue as to how resounding gong/clanging symbol he is sounding these days.

  • Posted by

    I agree that contemporary worship music could use songs with a lot more theological diversity and depth to them than much of what is being currently produced.  However, that message is lost in Driscoll’s tone and inflammatory language.  It’s a shame that someone who by all accounts is so smart and such a gifted teacher could be so lacking in wisdom when it comes to choosing his words.  Leonard and Daniel hit the nail on the head.

  • Posted by

    “Isn’t there something wrong with the spirit of a person when they couldn’t give a rip about how their words are received?”

    I wouldn’t go that far. I like the fact that Driscoll could are less what we are saying about his comments on this blog. While he may offend some for his comments, I think the reason most are offended is because he shows that he really doesn’t care about their opinions. What is said is a small part of the issue. He’s apathy towards those who are offended is the offense.

    I seem to remember someone else that could give a rip about the popular views on his comments…

    Oh yeah, Jesus.


  • Posted by

    Okay, I admit to not being objective about this quote. But in my opinion, Mark Driscoll and this comment rocks! Although this is just one part of the issue, the style of worship music, worship lyrics, how many worship songs, how worship music is presented, what does the worship singer look like, how does the worship leader hold himself, etc. is one of the many reasons that men are bored stiff in church, why men are not challenged in church and why men are turned off and not coming to church. For churches to bury their head in the sand and say, “If men don’t like the music, then tough crap!” is the wrong answer.  If we know that when a man comes to church, the family will follow, why aren’t we making churches a place that men feel welcome. I went to a church on Sunday that has made changes to target men. I not only saw a whole lot of strong men. I also saw a whole lot of happy engaged women who love seeing made get excited and passionate about church.

    Mike Ellis
    Church For Men Florida

  • Posted by

    I think Mark needs to season his speech with salt a little more. Saying things in a way that just ticks people off is problematic at best, and perhaps just plain wrong.

  • Posted by Kirk Longhofer

    Once again, Mark’s choice of language, get in the way of the point he’s trying to make.

    Just yesterday, I read something interesting Leonard Sweet.  He points out that you can ask a group of grandparents if they would sacrifice their lives for their grandchildrn… and nearly everyone would say yes.  But will they sacrifice their preferred musical style to save their grandkids’ souls?

    I think the point goes both ways.  Mark may not like it… but for some, the music he crticizes helps them to connect with God.  Same with the very traditional.

    So Mark, how about just going and doing what God has called YOU to do, and spend a little less time worrying about what other folks are doing, and calling them names when you do.

  • Posted by Dave Kendall

    “some effeminate guy” It’s a shame that those three words are distracting some from the message.  Instead of debating on what he said, we’re debating about how he said it. 

    I for one agree with what he was getting at.  I’m by no means a South Park fan, but I caught a few minutes of an episode a few weeks ago where they were making fun of Christian music.  How essentially if you take “secular” songs and replace “you” or “baby” with Jesus it became a Prase & Worship song.  It was funny, because it was true.  Many of the songs sang in my church have very little depth, meaning, or theological backing.  It kind of frustrates me that we’ve become so complacent with what we say, just because we like the melody or the chorus. 

    The praise and worship bandwagon is going to crash sooner or later, it’s just a matter of time and a question of what comes after it?  Maybe we’ll see a return to true art, instead of art imitating art.

  • Posted by


    Yes I agree there’s something behind it, but it’s not worth listening to if it’s condescending, insulting, and crass.

    We do need better depth in our songs. Like this little beauty… Thank you, Mr. Crowder, even if you are wearing a thiry-year old warm up jacket and have a funny looking beard… (He uses the word “antonym” in a worship song, how cool is that!)

    I am full of earth You are heaven’s worth
    I am stained with dirt prone to depravity
    You are everything that is bright and clean
    the antonym of me. You are divinity

    But a certain sign of grace is this:
    From the broken earth flowers come
    pushing through the dirt.

    And you are holy, holy, holy
    All heaven cries, “Holy, holy God.
    “Oh You are holy, holy, holy
    I want to be holy like You are

    You are everything that is bright and clean
    And You’re covering me with Your majesty

    And the truest sign of grace was this:
    from wounded hands redemption fell down
    liberating man

    But the harder I try
    the more clearly can I
    feel the depth of our fall
    and the weight of it allAnd so this might could be
    the most impossible thing:
    Your grandness in me
    making me clean
    Glory, hallelujah
    Glory, Glory, Hallelujah

    So here i am, all of me.
    Finally everything.
    Wholly, Wholly wholly
    I am wholly wholly wholly
    I am wholly wholly wholly Yours
    I am wholly Yours
    I am full of earth and dirt and You

  • Posted by Bruce

    Sorry Todd,

    I can’t comment because I can’t get the picture of Driscoll as a Neanderthal Cave Man dragging his woman around by her hair out of my head.

    It seems it is impossible for Driscoll to write or speak without using negative, pejorative words. (let alone inaccurate words)

    Driscoll continues to blow a golden opportunity to be a spokesman for Jesus because he can not seemingly use wisdom when speaking or writing.

  • Posted by


    Point taken, about not retrying MD and remembering that he later made it clear his comments were not directed at Gayle Haggard.  Mainly I brought it up because the uproar led to the threatened picketing and then a meeting with a number of his critics, at which time Mark (as he described it on his blog) apologized for his habit of being offensive and inflammatory.  He said that he was going to have someone read his stuff and hold him accountable.  He sounded (to me) like the uproar had caused him to reflect realize that he needed to make some significant changes.  IMO his comments about worship music indicate that either he was insincere last year, just appeased people to stop the picketing and cool the uproar, or that he didn’t put in place a very good accountability plan.  I understand that old habits are hard to break, but if I really want to change a habitual behavior, I’m going to find some people who will be brutally honest, who are outside my inner circle, not biased toward me (not my sister or my husband or my best friend), and fully submit myself to their assessment of my behaviors.

    You are very right Leonard, MD is misusing the “influence coins” God has entrusted to him.  I recall what the nobleman said to the servant who did not manage well what he was given. 

    And adude, Jesus certainly didn’t measure his words against popular opinion, but neither did He offend unless there was a clear kingdom purpose.  I don’t think calling devoted disciples “effeminate guys with acoustic guitars” has any kingdom value.  In fact, I think it has the opposite effect, unnecessary damage to kingdom relationships.  These guys aren’t the Pharisees.


  • Posted by Leonard

    Wendi, thanks for your heart in this matter.  My approach to Driscoll has not wounds from the structure of church.  In other words I have never been shut out of a ministry or passed over in a ministry because I am male.  So I appreciate that his words are more personally inflammatory to many people than they are to me.  I am a guy and as a guy who drives trucks and 4X4’s shoots guns and lives sports from fishing to football, works on his own cars does his own remodeling likes to hunt, hike and has been known to go a few days without a shower, Marks words seem more silly than offensive.  My wife, an 11 year veteran of full time ministry and most definitely the coolest girl I know would more than likely feel the same way. 

    We sort of tuned him out a long time ago when it came to his blog, his messages and he lost voice with us.  This might be my bad but I don’t need Mark Driscoll to instruct me about women, worship, masculinity or for that matter any thing else that I can think of.  There are enough great thinkers and leaders out there that I can learn from without having to wade through a pond of stuff to find the nuggets. 

    That said I think the church need to get more masculine.  I think we have done a disservice to guys with our music and our teaching.  I think we have failed to capture the masculine spirit and I have been to churches where the worship leader from a distance was way too feminine for my taste (I love women worship leaders and do not expect them to be masculine) and the music was like prom songs.  Marks point is well taken.  It would be cool if we could dialog about the point instead of the messenger.

  • Posted by Bruce

    Hey Leonard,

    I here ya on the masculine issue..............I have met my share of wimpy men over the past 30 years. Men who refused to be men. Men who refused to lead.

    But, I do think some of our “what is a man” tends to be culturally based and sometimes how we judge a man is based on our own cultural and personal experiences.

    Many a soft spoken, quiet man has been accused of being “light in his loafers”

    I am lover of sports. Any, all. If it has a ball I am inclined to watch it. Yet, I despise boxing, WWF, etc.........any so called sport where the express purpose is to maim the other guy. I used to hunt and fish........but now I prefer to shoot with a camera. My dad was a gun dealer so we had lots of guns in our home. All kinds. I shot virtually everything imaginable. Yet, I own no guns today.

    I cry over a good movie. The poverty and plight of others move me to tears.

    My point is..............even a guy like me, a big guy, burly guy, 6ft guy, who still thinks he can kick your ____
    guy, has traits that some in our culture would consider “sissy”

    To me a real man is one who loves his family and puts them first. A real man is one who will sacrifice for others. A real man is one who will stand firm when he needs to, even to his own harm.  If such a guy is soft spoken, hates sports,and doesn’t hunt/fish/trap he is still a man to me. It is a matter of character rather than culture.

    I think real men have hair on their chest AND Back smile and only sissies shave off all their hair or get a wax job smile

    Just a joke..............but it is my lame attempt to show my generation’s cultural bias. We don’t like the metrosexual look.........

    I know I am just rambling...........


  • Posted by josh r

    Does today’s contemporary Christian music do a good job of showing the full character of God?  I think it does a good job of showing is love, but does little to show is Wrath. 

    Pastor Mark likes to lift up the Christ of Revelation 19:16.  He says men have trouble worshiping a God that they could beat up.  I think you could listen to Christian Radio for a long time before this aspect of God’s character would be

    He is a bit harsh, but it is true that there is a void.  Notice that he is asking for something more that the mushy love song music that we have now.  He doesn’t say that the mushy love song stuff needs to go away.  It is just portrays too narrow of a view of God.

  • Posted by

    I agree that the characterization of “some effeminate guy on an acoustic guitar” is un-called for and out of line. But then, that’s nothing new from Mark. With Mark it’s 50/50 whether it was unintentionally or purposefully inflamatory, ignorance or attitude. You gotta take anything Mark says with a grain of salt, look past the rhetoric for the real meaning.

    As for wanting more original music from the bottom up, I couldn’t agree more. I wish our worship leader would sing more original material. I know there’s plenty. Although I’m sure Mark still wouldn’t like it because she’s an “effeminate” girl with an acoustic guitar.

  • Posted by Leonard

    Bruce, I hear you.  I think there is a difference in being a real man and being masculine.  I have no trouble with a guy who loves his family and cries and the things that make God cry.  I have wept many times over real life hurts and hope I never stop.  I also know that my burliness is not the measure of my being a real man.  God forbid that I measure a real man by the standards of our world. 

    But as a guy I was constantly told to sit still and be quiet.  Don’t run; hold hands with the guys next to you, sing songs with words that mean sex in every other place but the church, listen to messages about Jesus as my lover and how to be intimate with him.  I was told that my masculinity had to be boxed each Sunday and that that if I didn’t like it I wasn’t a real man.  Truth be told, if I was not a pastor, I would not go to 99% of the churches I have spoken at over the years. 

    We set out to build a church men would love. Not by banging drums and bashing women but by choosing words that men get without having to adjust their homophobe antenna.  We choose to stay away from words that present God and our relationship with God in a more feminine light.  Our décor is distinctly male.  No flowers, food in the doorway, humor, video and tech, excellence and huge dreams and challenges, causes that make our hearts ache.  This is the kind of church we have and we have it because we did it on purpose.

    One lady came to me recently and said, “Pastor, do you know why I come here?” I asked her to tell me.  She said, “I come here because this church makes my husband a better father and husband.” That is enough for me. 

    I believe the church has lost its masculine spirit and as such for years mocked guys like me who love the outdoors and are a bit burly.  It said for me to be a real man I had to cry, I had to be intimate, I had to sit still, I could not laugh, run, play and pretty much be like the woman next to me, only with more facial hair.  It never appreciated my lust for adventure, for battle, for creativity, for a reason to die, fight, live and love.  That is why Driscoll does not offend me.  He can say the stuff he says without being hard on people.

  • Posted by Daniel

    Just a note to Josh about Driscoll’s “men have trouble worshiping a God that they could beat up"… Have you noticed the irony of this??  God did get beat up.  Crucified, in fact.  And as disciples of the crucified God, this should affect our definition of manliness.
    That being said, all that’s been said above about the church recovering its ‘manliness’ (which I assume simply means balancing the womanliness with manliness, rather than eradicating femininity altogether...) seems appropriate.  Testosterone is of God.  As is beer and a good hike.  Both male and female bear the image of God, and our churches would do well to hear this. 
    And theology plays a role in this (sorry folks, you can’t escape it).  Reformed theology, with its emphasis on a satisfaction (read penal substitution) theory of the atonement makes it very easy to preach on so-called ‘wrath’.  Triumphalist dispensational eschatologies also do the same thing with their emphasis on the so-called ‘second coming’ (Jesus was meek and lowly the first time, but he’s coming back to kick your butt!).  Our theology inevitably shapes how we speak of God, and how we speak of God will inevitably be interpreted as more ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ by congregants.  Of course, this leads to a good healthy debate about what ‘true’ masculinity and ‘true’ femininity are.  And that’s always a fun road to go down…
    My two cents.

  • Posted by Josh R

    Daniel wrote:

    Just a note to Josh about Driscoll’s “men have trouble worshiping a God that they could beat up"… Have you noticed the irony of this??  God did get beat up.  Crucified, in fact.  And as disciples of the crucified God, this should affect our definition of manliness.

    Yes, God did get beat up, but it was by his own choice.  We had no power that he didn’t give us.  It would be silly to worship a God who was powerless over man.  As the hymn goes:

    He could have called ten thousand angels

    To destroy the world and set Him free.

    He could have called ten thousand angels,

    But He died alone, for you and me.

    Generally I find Driscoll to be a pretty balanced preacher.  He gives equal credence to every scripture, dismissing none.  He uses a lot of humor and uncomfortable truths when he approaches topics that people tend to have preconceived notions about.  He doesn’t dwell on the contrarian stuff though.  When he preaches about God’s love and Grace, it had brought me to tears more than a few times.

    Driscoll is preaching on Ruth right now, and his series has been very good so far.  Audio and video are both available on the website each Tuesday.

  • Posted by

    Worship is not for us it’s an offering to God. I think when we start to get so critical about it we’ve lost the point. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for creativity and musicians writing their own music etc. I just think when we start to bash the music of our churches and say such harsh things that we’re becoming the Christians non Christians stay away from. We’re so busy criticizing the way the Church does everything it takes up all our time and energy we could actually be out spreading the Word of God. I guess we play right in the enemy’s hand this way. Bad or good music, I just want to worship my God.

  • Posted by Stewart

    This is an interesting discussion for me. I’m new to Driscoll. I heard about him a long time ago. Listened to a podcast, got bored and let it go. I’ve listened again to the Ruth series, mentioned above. What’s interesting is that he misses an opportunity to be inflamatory in the series and totally misses the point of Ruth’s seduction of Boaz. Apparently no one ever told mark what “uncovering one’s feet” means in Biblical Hebrew.

    The series is interesting though. There have been many moments where I have almost fallen out of my chair laughing while at the same time thinking, if I said that to my congregation, I’d be crucified for misogny.

    I think in order to be a comic (which Mark is) you have to just let loose with the first thing to come into your mind. If you edit yourself in an attempt to be ‘socially appropriate’, you loose. You are no longer funny. Mark has a very traditional take on male/female relations and is very intolerant and dismissive of homosexuals (and their cousins… metrosexuals). I don’t think those are good messages or biblical messages, but something he is doing is reaching a ton of people who otherwise have decided that God is lame.

    I think we are taking the rhetoric too seriously. It was meant to get a rise and a laugh and a bit of attention. I don’t think he’s gone so far as to characterize what he said as ‘hate’ speech. Perhaps I’d feel differently if I was more familiar.  I read this as one of those… chuckle, chuckle… “I can’t believe he just said that” comments. Just a perspective from someone fairly new to Driscoll. It does make it interesting enough to make me want to listen again. Was it Wesley who said, “If you want to draw a crowd, set yourself on fire”? Or something like that?

  • Posted by

    I keep thinking of the really good worship that is out there, Baloche, Crowder and more.

    Yes, there is namby pamby worship stuff produced, sold and used in our churches.  Just as there has always been.  I can think of hymns I would list in this category.  And I grew up in the 70’s when there was so much junk out there I cringe to think of it.

    It’s interesting to note that in our church it’s young single guys who are coming to Christ and into worship and we have an all girl worship team.  It is effiminate, because we have no guy worship leaders to draw from.  But it’s the guys out in the congregation I see crying while they worship.  And they are changing their lives and drawing near to God.

    And we are in gun shooting, country, where guys pride themselves on how manly they are.

    I don’t think there’s a formula for worship.  It’s a Holy Spirit moving thing.  Yes, we need to be aware of what tools we use and how we use them.  But ultimately, worship is about God and our relationship to Him, individually and corporately.  And God can even use a woman to draw a guy into worship, and yes, even a feminine looking guy with okay music.

    And when it comes down to what we will be singing in worship in 10 years, there will be lots of songs we cringe at.  But I think we’ll still be singing “Blessed Be Your Name” and “How Great is Our God” and “Offering”.

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