I’m not sure anything is more controversial  or explosive in church conflict than the worship style and song choices (except perhaps when it involved people’s kids). I’ve seen battles about hymns versus choruses and electric guitars versus organs. I’ve seen arguments about 70’s choruses verses brand new songs. I wonder if each of us has that way that we know we best connect to God. It is precious to us, because music is so powerful- and it brings back a flood of memories about the times we have had in God’s presence. People get very emotional about these things! And some people believe, and have been taught, that only one way of worship is valid or ‘godly’- these are deeply held belief systems that they are trying to walk out. On the other hand, I DO have a problem with saying one decade’s worship song and or style is holier than another. It’s just one more decade in American history; but God remains the same. I REALLY have a problem when people hold to their own comfort over reaching lost people. 

I am currently reading a book where the author is very negative towards having separate services for different generations, and I can see why. The author views disputes on worship songs and worship styles to be rooted in American “individualism” and “selfishness.” Holding to the way you want to worship is portrayed as extreme narcissism. I wanted to ask some questions on this delicate subject if I could. I have worked with for years on staff putting together the weekend worship lineup for kids and adults. And I’m honestly still thinking all this through, what I’m reading and what I’m experiencing.

So at this point in my life, I’m not convinced that people who desperately want a certain type of worship are necessarily just selfish. Every week, we have only 6 songs in the worship lineup. It is NOT POSSIBLE to hit everyone’s style or everyone’s favorites even if we tried. And when church es do try it, it does not flow and comes off very choppy and piecemeal. I have trouble getting into worship when the songs are all over the place trying to please everyone. (Though I do like a hymn in there now and then, with my choruses and new songs…probably my ADHD loving variety). I still personally like the whole service to flow- worship, message, illustrations etc.

So here are some of my questions:

Which one style or two styles do we go with? I’m assuming the worship leader makes that call. So which group is “selfish” then? In our church for years it was the oldest generation who held the power, and demanded only hymns. I used to think they were all just selfish and didn’t care at all about lost people. Now I’m not so sure. I do agree that every generation having its own service leads to “new churches” forming. I also know that in our culture, people WILL just go down the street to find their own style of worship right or wrong. We know on our team, if we change worship styles some people WILL leave the church over it and we just have to expect that. So there is a LOT of prayer and a lot of vision casting before any major worship styles changes.  

What do you do in your church regarding worship and the differing generational tastes?

Where is that balance between reaching lost people, overcoming selfishness, and connecting to God in the way we believe is right/works best? -love Trisha

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