August 03, 2009

Worship War Arguments Deconstructed--Part 1

Charles Spurgeon, the pastor of Metropolitan Tabernacle Baptist Church in London in the mid-1800's famously called his music ministry The War Department. Many churches today understand this, as battles over traditional and modern worship styles are popping up in large and small congregations. It amazes me how much attention, passion and fervor is given to what amounts to about 25 minutes of music per week.

I've personally been involved in three churches who have made or made the transition from traditional to more modern and from what I've experienced there are several arguments made on both the traditional and modern sides that are similar, no matter where you go. Over the next several days, I'm going to provide one of the arguments, state what I think is really being said, then state what the appropriate response should be. Feel free to comment, agree, or disagree...or throw in your own argument.

Argument #1--"Those old people are just going to have to get over it and understand that this is the music that's bringing people into our church."

What I think is really being said:
"I grew up in a church that used worship music that I really didn't care for that much. Now, I've finally found a church that uses the kind of music I like that helps me connect with God and it frustrates me when people look down on that music, and in turn look down on me. I wish that they could either like what I like, or at least tolerate it since I'm seeing so many new people come to our church because they, too, connect with this music. I'd like to spend more time with older people because I'm sure they could teach me some things about life, but unfortunately they seem angry and upset at the church all the time. I'm happy about our church, and I d0n't like the negativity."

The appropriate response: It's a shame that so many senior adults leave churches where the music no longer meets their tastes. It's especially unfortunate when those churches are reaching a younger generation that is becoming increasingly disconnected from the church. Churches that are reaching this younger generation need spiritually maturing adults with kind hearts and patient spirits to help grow them in the faith. I understand the desire to use music that I like to worship, but if I value evangelism and passing on the faith to a younger generation, then I hope I can set aside my wants for what is effectively leading people to Christ. The response is not to demonize people who don't like what I like, though. It's to encourage them. Sure, many of them won't go along, but maybe some will. Besides, its not just senior adults who don't always like modern music. There are people my age (early 30's) who can't stand it, either. Instead of making church about the kind of music that's used, I'd encourage anyone who doesn't like what your church currently does musically (traditional or modern) to examine it up against what else is the church is doing. If that's the main thing you can find that you don't like, then perhaps it's best to focus on the things that God is blessing in that church. It's not about right and wrong, it's about different.

I once knew of a man in his 80's who was a concert violinist. He played with the worship band at a church that used extremely modern and edgy music. A friend of mine asked him why he enjoyed that style of music so much. He replied, "oh, I can't stand this music." Turns out he had played with the Chicago Symphony and other major symphonies across the country. "But," he said, "I love seeing what this music does in the lives of the young people here."

That guy gets it.

1 comment:

Joey said...

Nice blog (and timing). Looking forward to parts 2 and 3.