Generational Worship - PAST

Hindsight is 20/20

If hindsight is 20/20, we should be able to look at the past and take away some pretty important lessons in terms of worship – things that would be good to hold on to.

Allow me to paint a picture of my experience growing up in church. It was a small country church with larger than life, beautiful stained glass windows surrounding me, telling stories of Jesus knocking on a door, or sitting with children, or carrying a lamb around His neck. Responsive readings. Hymnals with big, deep words that we repeated year after year.

When I was in that, I didn’t like it, didn’t appreciate it. We sang the same songs, did the same responsive readings week after week. But now that I follow Jesus, I appreciate those more than I ever thought I would. I know stories from Scripture because it was repeated again and again in those songs and readings. It anchored me to truth. God’s Word was hidden deep in my heart (Psalm 119:11) because of those very things I thought I didn’t like growing up.

When I think of worship in that church, I think of my dad. We didn’t really have worship leaders; there wasn’t such a thing. There was just my dad, who led us in songs. I don’t really think the average person around me in that church meant what they were singing. But as I watched my dad, I could see it on his face. He meant it. He meant the words and wanted to live them out in his life. He worshipped.

Then came the worship revolution, where hymns that had been around for a couple hundred years were giving way to this new creative expression of God: praise music, differentiation at its finest, and I loved it. I decided to follow Christ in the early 90s, and I came out with guns blazing. I wanted to express my creativity in worship. In the process, I left the past behind. But what I quickly saw was that the traditions of the church of hymns and responsive readings, etc., were so doctrinal. That was how stories of Christ were passed on, so rich in Truth. We shouldn’t get away from that. When that isn’t one of our motives, then what we are passing on is a picture of our own creativity and not of Christ. People will look at us and how great we are instead of how great Christ is. I’ve never heard anyone say, “Oh, Fanny Crosby was so creative.” Instead they talk about the words in her music…the truths in them.  Her work directs people’s eyes to who God is, not to who Fanny Crosby is.


Lead worship in the present with creativity and newness, but anchoring people to Truth and God’s Word! Dig into your roots. We tend to look at the past as what was and look to the future as what will be. Don’t forget the past. Rather, let’s look at the past and learn lessons from it as we move into the future. 

"Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water."  - We use that statement as an idea of foolishness. We can’t just throw out the past ways of worship and not carry on the good things that were. One day we will be the past and someone will be writing about us.  They will not remember everything we did. But they will remember some things – the things that are in bold, and the things that stick out. What will they say about how we led worship and how we led the Church? What will they want to carry into their present and into their future? Will it be based on Truth, or just how creative we were? Will we point them to Christ?


Todd Foster
Worship Pastor
Worship Exposed Guest Writer

The Worship Exposed Team would like to personally thank Todd for being a guest writer for our Generational Worship discussion series. We believe that this post honors and is a great reflection of the past and that it offers a great perspective on how to move into the present and future. What was your church experience like while growing up? What things are you appreciative of from past worship? In what ways can you move forward in worship leading with a better balance of creativity and Truth?

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