Sunday, December 28, 2014

Don't Rip Off the Young People in Your Church!

I once heard the testimony of a man who had grown up in a church that was very contemporary in its music style. After graduating and gowing away to college he visited a church that sang more of the old hymns. It angered him, but he wasn't angry that the music was old. He was angry because until then he had no idea that the Church had such a rich tradition of hymns. He felt that his home church had ripped him off because all they ever sang were the new choruses. 

I'm NOT arguing that we ought to sing only hymns, nor am I arguing that we should sing hymns in the same style as in the 1950's. What I'm saying is that we shouldn't cut ourselves off from the past as if somehow we finally learned how to worship when Matt Redman or Hillsong started writing music. We have an ancient tradition of hymns that goes back for literally millennia! The richness of these song connects the ages of the Church. We can sing the old songs and know we are a part of something that goes back long before we were born.  Something that will still be around long after we're gone. The most important thing about our time of worship is not what makes a church unique, but what makes faithful churches the same across ages of time and diverse cultures. 

What I'm advocating is singing the old songs in a new way. There are many today who endeavor to do this very thing. I'm not able to list them all here, but I will share one of my favorites--Indellible Grace. 

In the 90's there seemed to be much more talk about "worship wars" where people divides over the labels of traditional and contemporary. I don't think "either or" is a healthy way to think about the issue. The music of the church MUST always be contemporary. It must be music that connects with the congregation. The music of the church MUST also be traditional--not in style, but in substance. Christianity is a faith that is defined by the passing on of a body of doctrine from one generation to the next. We are fools if we think we can divorce ourselves from the ancient hymns and not be missing out. The worship wheel does not have to be reinvented in every generation. In fact, to think it does is a recipe for idolatry. 

I urge you, if you are reading this, to take the time to connect with the old hymns of church history. Don't sing them in a dry and boring manner. Sing them in your own style and in the language of your own culture.

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