Make “Multigenerational” A Value
A few years ago, I attended a Michael W. Smith concert. Though I enjoyed the night and the music, my favorite part had nothing to do with music. For me, the best part of the concert was watching the 70-something-year-old ladies who were just a few rows in front of me. While most of the crowd was sitting down to listen for a time, these ladies stood with their hands raised to worship their Jesus. It was absolutely beautiful!
I would say that a “perfect” church is a multigenerational church. There would be people of every age and stage of life worshipping alongside of one another.
You may have heard the dreaded term, “Worship Wars.” I would define this as: “debating between stereotypical generational worship music preferences.” Younger generations are stereotyped for only wanting modern music and to toss all hymns. Older generations are stereotyped for only wanting traditions and to write off change. These stereotypes do not apply to everyone, but for the sake of this post, I’ll stay general and refer to each age group as described.
When music preferences become a major focus in the church, I’d say we’ve gotten off track. If we are going to get hung up on the twenty or so total minutes that the musicians are leading us in worship through music, our perspectives have become awfully narrow.
And, while we are occupied with these debates, we are fighting the wrong enemy. Young and old, alike – we are one Body of Christ. The Body should not fight itself; the Body should join forces and stand against the enemy who loves all of these divisions.
So….now that I’ve told you not to focus on this…let’s focus on this…
Younger generations would do well to learn from the good that’s in traditional worship. Hymns are known for their rich lyrics; personally, I appreciate internalizing those lyrics that have depth and substance. I’ve found that I end up basically learning a whole biblical concept by the time I get through singing just one!
A positive aspect of present worship is that change is not something that is feared. The shift I see happening in worship today is that we are coming out of a perspective that says, “This is how we’ve always done things, so this is how we will always continue to do things.” This is dangerous. No matter if this thought comes from older generations or younger, we will never fully “arrive” at being wise or all-knowing, so we should never stop learning or challenging ourselves. Today we welcome change, embrace change, and search for new possibilities.
Healthy things do naturally grow and change... You wouldn’t teach the same thing to a toddler as you would an adult because different stages of life call for different things. In a similar way, a church goes through seasons. These seasons call for consistent changes in order to fulfill the needs of the church body.
I’ve heard it said that church music has typically been behind in music compared to society. The church could be on the forefronts, paving the way…redeeming music and taking it back from the enemy for the kingdom of God.
Serving Your Specific Church
Overall, I think it honestly should not be so much be about the music style itself. A better focus would be to figure out what song will best teach the congregation the desired biblical truth. If a traditional hymn will best support this, great. If the latest worship song will, great.
I believe these “Worship Wars” are such a distraction and scheme from the enemy. However, they are necessary for church leadership to discuss. Church leaders should decide on their philosophy of worship first – which then leads to deciding on methodology. Ask these questions, “What is our philosophy for worship ministry, based on what the Bible says?” and, “How can we best carry this out to serve the church body God has given us to shepherd?” It’s all about meeting the needs (which does not necessarily always equal the wants) of your specific church and leading them forward to maturity.
Once those decisions have been established, it’s best to move on.
“Worship is war. But it is not to be fought over our own preferences. We must turn our energy towards killing the selective, prideful nature within us. We must fight to put to death anything in us that would hinder us from pursuing Christ with all we are. We must fight to worship Him with a joyful adoration that cannot be contained.” – Stephen Miller, "The Modern Worship Music Wars"
Challenge to Worship
Worshippers: worship to your preferred style daily, all throughout your week, so that the twenty minutes on a Sunday morning will not shake you. Can you worship Jesus just because He is Jesus, regardless of style? Do not be tricked by the devil to be hindered when the music isn’t catered solely around you. Those minutes can be gloriously transformed if you show up ready to praise God, already overflowing from your time with Him in worship!
Worship Leaders: establish a clear worship philosophy, determine the needs of your church, then move forward confidently and excellently in your chosen method that will best serve them. Make the lyrics your focus, so that you teach your congregation truth about God – whether that’s through a hymn or a modern worship song.
Instead of battling in these “Worship Wars,” let’s focus on the One we worship and stand together, unified.
Recommended Track of the Week: “City of Hope” by Amanda Cook