Recently I received a very telling email from a worship leader in Ohio about worship styles in their church. What she described could be written of many churches in America. For so many, the “war” on worship styles has long been over and battlelines drawn years ago. However, there is still an underlying current of discontent and dissatisfaction among certain members who don’t like or appreciate either the newer or the older styles, as the case may be.
I appreciate this worship leader’s heart to be sensitive and try to minister to the whole body while staying fresh and vibrant with their song selection.
Here’s a portion of her email:
“The worship services at our church for the majority of my life have been something like this:
- Choir singing of hymns out of the “Church Hymnal”
- United prayer around the altar, every service
- Someone singing a special song
- Invitation song.
“Some of these services have been very, very spiritual… Southern Gospel music was always the main source of special singing.
“Then, 10 years ago…our youth and leaders (went to) a conference…It was the first time we had ever been in a service where you were encouraged to clap and dance around and basically have a good time while worshipping. I know that 12 people from this little church in Ohio were changed forever by what we experienced there…So, we returned to our church with all this ‘stuff” on the inside of us.
“…So, over time the youth grew and as they got older they began testifying and leading in the church. We have a young man who plays the piano very well ( now our worship leader) who got in touch with God and began playing some of this Praise and Worship music. Most of the time we did it before services or at church camp and stuff like that. We also did a couple of cantatas with contemporary songs in them and they went over very well…I think when we began singing “Shout To The Lord” that it was the last straw. There was a certain part of our church who thought we were being a little bit too worldly. To make a long, painful story short, 6 years ago our church had some major problems and some of these people left the church.
“We are now left with a core group of people who have been through this music stuff and are pretty much cool with it all. Some of them still like southern Gospel though, and none of the ones of us in music leadership ever even listen to it.
“The problem is, some of the church really responds well to these (new) songs and some of the church just puts up with them. What we need to learn how to do is find some songs that the older people might like too, so that they will be ministered to as well. We need to learn how to mix it up a little more. It’s almost as if we skipped an entire generation of music. We went straight from hymns only to college praise and worship. I know that is hard for some of our congregation and we just need to find the middle ground.”
>>>Only with God’s help and direction can we “mix it up” in a way that ministers to the believer but more importantly communicates and reaches out to the lost. We must remember church is not about us and certainly it’s not about me. We are to “show forth the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9) We won’t and can’t please everyone all the time, but we must always please and praise our Lord – through whatever style is being played and sung at the moment!