Contemporary Music??????

Discussion in 'Music Ministry' started by Berean, Feb 4, 2014.

  1. Berean

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    I have been a member of a large SBC Church (1200+ Sunday Worship) and have been and still happy here especially with my Pastor who is a excellent Pastor and even a greater person. We are a 160 year old downtown church who like many others are experiencing a declining attendance and the average adult age is in excess of 55 years.
    I don't know whether to discribe our situation as an opportunity, a dilemma or just an adjustment of movement to the suburbs. Here is what we are faced with. We are doing the same kind music we did in 1970. The remaining young crowd (20 -45 years of age) prefers more contemporary and the older folks traditional. The Pastor and governing body have attempted to compromise by doing traditional songs and hymns to a different rhythm which most people are not satisfiED. I have been under the opinion that blended music pleases very few. I have my preferences but I can live with either one. Have any other of you encountered anything similar?
     
  2. InTheLight

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    Do you have the facilities and staff to do both? My church has a main sanctuary that seats about 2,000 and they do contemporary worship songs. They also have a chapel that seats about 300 and they have traditional worship hymns. The pastor preaches in the main sanctuary and the video of the sermon is shown on screens in the chapel. Best of both worlds.
     
  3. Gina B

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    We did in one church. It was handled by letting the young people be in charge of a portion of the music service. By in charge, they actually came up and played instruments and sang and led. It was a learning thing for them and everyone else. They learned to contribute, the others learned to support them as they contributed in ways they knew how and were able.
    They were more late teens/early twenties though that wanted that. The older adults knew better than to try to change their parents, who were mostly who made up the adults who were older than them. :laugh:
     
  4. Gib

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    Our small church has a traditional vibe to it. The 91 Baptist Hymnal is exclusively used on Sunday & Wednesday evenings. There are a few semi-contemporary songs in there. A mixture of traditional and contemporary songs [newer stuff] are sung on Sunday mornings.

    No band - just a piano and organ with the occasional young guitarist [pianist son] when I can pry him out of the sound room. The choir occasionally introduces a new song and the congregation will sing it the following week. Our blended services lean to the traditional style, but work for us.
     
  5. FriendofSpurgeon

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    Worship style is a very big thing -- amazing that the traditional/comtemporary issue (fight??) is just now coming to you. You may want to read "Who Stole My Church." It's fictional, but a very real book regarding the worship wars. I think you are right -- you have both a dilemma and an opportunity. I have gone through this with two churches and both had growing pains throughout the process.

    Our church has both a traditional service and a contemporary service on Sunday mornings. The traditional service has the hymns, the choir, the doxology, organ, creeds and so forth, while the contemporary service has the worship team, praise band, etc. Even the dress is a bit more casual I think at the second service.

    While this has certain benefits, you have make sure that you don't break up into two separate congregations. Several things help guard against that -- same preacher/same sermon, common Sunday School - perhaps between services, and common Wednesday evening time together. Perhaps the best way is to have a common/blended service every so often so that the entire body worships together -- though you will always have those that complain that there were too many hymns or, on the other side, that the band played too loudly. You will never please everyone.

    Also, the make up of our two services do not necessarily break down racially, ethnically or by age. In fact, they are pretty similar. Sometimes with us personally, it depends on our schedule. Interestingly, our traditional service is currently seeing the most growth - even with younger families. Go figure.

    Lastly, you are who you are. You don't need to change to please people and their desire to have "worship" be more "fun." However, if by incorporating different music can help improve your church's worship and it can help reach others for Christ, then that's another story. Godspeed.
     
  6. JamesL

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    I've encountered this most every church I've been in, as I've been involved in music at every one.

    Most every church is going to have this struggle if their congregation has a varied age demographic. The reason is that people want to sing what they're familiar with, whether they're young or old.

    In my opinion, it is pretty rare to find older people who want to sing newer music. Many I've encountered rail against "new" music, and express and indignant attitude to people who are seemingly corrupting church by not sticking with the "old" stuff

    I've challenged a few with reality, which makes the older ones extremely uncomfortable. A song written 150 years ago is hardly old in terms of the history of the church. There were probably people back in the 1800s who were comfortable with good old music from Isaac Watts, who railed against "new" stuff like "At the Cross" because the composition was different - even though it was written by Watts.

    Even some "old" hymns were written in the 20th century. That means it's simply a preference. And preferences change like the seasons. I told one lady, about 75 years old, that she was closing in on her demise anyway, so in another 20 years her opinion would be in the grave with her.

    That's a pretty harsh thing to say, I admit, and I should have never approached someone with that kind of speech. But some older people just need to suck it up and realize that Christ didn't put the church here for one individual.

    On the other hand, many newer songs lack theological girth, with many content to sing 27 times "We adore you, You are good, You are beautiful, blah, blah, blah. Big deal, we could be singing that to a tree and nobody might know the difference.

    Younger people also need to realize that the older ones have a legitimate gripe in this area. They long for music that reflects our hope in Christ.

    It seems that InTheLight is at a church that has tried to effectively address the tension, and I applaud churches that try to be sensitive to the preferences of both ends of the age spectrum.

    But, it seems to me that this could lead to a separation of believers into two distinct groups that are disconnected from each other. The Body of Christ should strive for unity, not dissention and factions.

    Gina B pointed out one church's solution, and this could possibly work well. I've not seen this done on a regular basis, only during special services at holidays and surrounding the youth going to camp or missions trips. It seemed to be well received in that context

    If there is a real tension at a church, and no effective way to cater to various preferences, then the pastor needs to address the self centeredness from the pulpit.
     
    #6 JamesL, Feb 5, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2014
  7. Baptist Believer

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    I'm a member of a church that went through a "worship war." Really, it was about power/control with music style as the issue for the discontent to rally around.

    The church congregational leaders (both professional and volunteer leaders worked together with the discontent to come up with a solution. The discontent side would not compromise and held theirs resonat presences as God's unalterable standard for worship.

    After losing several votes that they initiated, the discontent left to start their own church.

    Our church now has a blended worship style, with everything from electric guitar, to orchestra, to handbells, and a building-shaking pipe organ.

    My preference is the 1950s-style SBC worship. Many others my age prefer "contemporary." However, the point Of worship is to honor God and God doesn't seem to have strong musical preferences. Worship is about approaching God in spirit and truth and it doesn't necessarily involve music.

    The majority of our congregation now seems to recognize that worship is designed for God, not for each other.
     
  8. JamesL

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    That's really awesome, such a shame many had to leave to make that a reality.

    I think a lot of the problem is due to a mentality that it's our gift to God, spiritual service, or whatever.

    Fact is, scripture says in many places, that we are to seek His glory in all that we do. I believe that includes music.

    I guess our music falls into two categories:
    Look what I'm doing for God, or
    Look what God has done for me

    The first mindset is futility, but the second is worship

    And worship is not confined to preferences
     
  9. ktn4eg

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    The church I belong to ( www.lighthouseministries.org ) has had "blended services" (both 'contemporary' AND hymns) for many years.

    I'm sure there are some members that prefer one style of music more than the other style of music, but I like some of the music from both genres.

    There are some hymns whose theology I do not care for (such as "There's A New Name Written Down In Glory" --- implying that, prior to my actually receiving Christ as my Savior [In my case that would have been in April, 1966.], my name was NOT written down in glory [Which, of course, it WAS --- Way back before the foundation of this planet ever was spoken into existence!!]

    There are also some "contemporary" songs that I do not particularly care for as well.

    I believe there are much more important issues that a local church needs to concentrate on besides whether or not it needs to spend its time, its energy, and its finances, debating over what style(s) of music needs to be sung in its corporate worship services.
     
  10. Baptist Believer

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    Yes, I still grieve over those who have left. Their church has not prospered as it should have. Our church is still wounded from the split, but we are moving forward in positive ways. We have become more ethnically diverse and have a better balance of ages. We were skewing toward 50+ for average age in the congregation. Now we are somewhere in the early 40s with lots of couples with children.

    An interesting thing about our situation is that the retired members of our congregation (anywhere from 65 - 95 years) were most open to blended worship than the members from 45-65. It seems that the "greatest generation" is a lot less selfish than the Baby Boomers when it comes to worship styles. Many of our seniors said they preferred the "traditional" type of music/worship, but they have no right to say that the more contemporary styles are wrong. They just asked that we find a way to be the family of God and try to appreciate and participate in all musical styles.
     
  11. Baptist Believer

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    Absolutely. There are doctrinal problems in both old and new music. I will gently bring them to the attention of the music minister from time-to-time and sometimes he will take them out of our repertoire if he agrees.

    Amen and amen!
     
  12. Earth Wind and Fire

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    A Capella preferred.:love2:
     
  13. FriendofSpurgeon

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    A similar issue of "blending" happens when our English and Spanish services are combined for special services.

    Our worship leaders do an excellent job of placing both languages on the screen, with the language sung being on top. So, we go from English to Spanish back to English, and so forth, with various verses of the same song. If you are uncomfortable singing in a different language, you simply sing the language you are most comfortable with. However, most are bilingual (to a degree anyway) and sing with the worship team. It takes a while to get used to this, but it is very enjoyable.

    Thankfully, everyone realizes that we are all worshipping together. Also, we have two sets of announcements, Scripture readings, prayers, benedictions, etc. Really quite a wonderful service.
     
  14. nodak

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    We've experienced it in several churches. (We transfer a lot.)

    Here are few things we have learned:

    1. Don't assume doing new music will draw younger people to church. One church in this town went contemporary about 15 years ago. All the younger people left and flocked to the IFB traditional church down the street. Most of the older folks followed. Only boomers stayed, now aging rapidly.

    2. Don't put old hymns to new music. Hymn lovers loved the tunes, too.

    3. Separate styled services can work well, as can properly blended.

    4. The biggie: it is a myth that if attendance is down, just change the music and we will grow. Nope, a dying or unhealthy church with a kickin band is style a dying or unhealthy church. Contemporary is not the universal fix for a church. Around here, the growing churches are moving away from the "all ccm all the time" format.

    5. Don't believe the myth that folks want the same music in church they listen to on the radio. We have some many college age folks telling us they want church to be "churchy", not just another rock concert.

    6. What you draw them with is what you will have to do to keep them. Suppose you change music formats and attract lots of folks. What happens when the church down the street has a better praise band?

    7. Music wars can be an excuse for not evangelizing. You know, the "times have changed and if we just change the music everyone will come" when we aren't visiting, witnessing, evangelizing, and discipling.

    Just my two cents.
     
  15. rickh

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    Emphasis

    The music in our church has historically been very traditional...hymns, piano, organ, etc. We started introducing newer hymns (Getty type), Southern Gospel, and some contemporary songs along the lines of Chris Tomlin. However, all of these were done within the cultural style of our church (mainly accompanied by piano). There were some rumblings at first in the congregation.

    However, the main thing that has calmed all of that down is that we have placed a major emphasis on the text of the songs and how they relate to Scripture. In other words, we are attempting to put everyone's minds on the Word instead of on the style. Once our focus is on that, the style or when the song was written or who wrote it becomes much less important. We now have a wide variety of styles from a wide time period. It has greatly changed the way we approach our music service.
     
  16. Salty

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    Has anyone ever tried this?

    First part of service is traditional hyms -

    Message

    aftert the message do CCM


    Those who like hymns arrive for the music before message and leave after message

    Those who like CCM come in just before message and stay for CCM

    Those who like both - will be in service longer.
     
  17. saturneptune

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    Your advice is well taken. Our church is at a crossroads. We have got to change or cease to exist. We have many members over 75 or 80 that think change of any type is not the thing to do. I am 61 and considered a young person. Personally, I like the music out of the hymn books, but do not believe they are inspired writings as some do. I really see no evidence that contemporary music does not honor the Lord as much as the traditional music.

    When these hymns first came out, I wonder how many church members refused to accept them and stick with whatever was the music of the day. I am going to guess if we could take the Psalms and use that for our hymns today, the crowd that thinks the Baptist Hymnal is the way to go would like a one of them.

    It gets to the point where the younger people in church have to move forward and let the older generation continue to practice their comfortable ways. Families in their 20s, 30s and 40s with children, the heart of the local church, are not going to join a church that thinks it is 1955.
     
  18. nodak

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    Beware: many families in their 20's, 30's, and 40's aren't going to come just because you change the music, either.

    I'm NOT saying don't change it. But don't "steal the church from those that built it" either. You can make the changes slowly and succeed. But think about this: had you tithed faithfully for the last 50 or so years and poured your blood sweat and tears into this church, and was still a church you are happy to attend, how would you feel if someone basically came in and took it away because you are "too old?"

    That attitude is not Christ honoring. Scripture says to respect the elders. Do so. Engage them. Find out what changes they CAN live with, and begin those.

    And don't count on music to bring in the younger crowd. You can lose them just as quickly that way. Rather, let the preaching be top notch, the teaching top notch, and the outreach and evangelism aggressive. Then you can conserve the often paying the bills anyway oldies, gather in the new ones, and as age and death happen the church will naturally change.
     
  19. FriendofSpurgeon

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    There may be other issues as well, including how people dress for church, as many younger people do not always wear their "Sunday best" to church. Seemingly, when those in the church (the old fogies like me) quit focusing on the mission of the church and instead focus on what & how we sing, which instruments we use, if people are dressing up enough, yada, yada, yada... well, that's when we get into trouble.

    Great comments from Nodak regarding moving slowly enough so that those who "built" the church do not feel that it is being stolen. There is a way to transition things, especially being open and honest with the elders of the church. However, we all need to remember that it is indeed the Lord's church, and He is the one that built it.
     
  20. nodak

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    Indeed the church belongs to God, and He builds it.

    Who is to say but what it is now is what God built? It helps maintain perspective to think of it this way. If it is a Baptist church, and you a member, how would you feel if an Assembly of God person joined it, then decided it needed to be transitioned to an AoG church?

    Many of those in traditional churches have chosen to be there for theological reasons, not personal preference in music. Do they not have the right to worship as the Holy Spirit is leading them?

    I don't mean to be crass, but it really does come across as stealing a building sometimes. If someone strongly believes a church must change that much from what it is to survive, why not start another church? Why come in speaking as though unless the church changes it somehow doesn't care about the lost or will just up and die? And if those things are true, why not let it die? And start another church? I've watched this happen, and am watching it literally kill two local churches right now. Yes, they will probably die. The buildings will be for sale for a song. And the newbies will gobble them up for "new starts." In a third case, the newbies came in and instead of starting a new, different style work, joined an established one. With enough new members to overwhelm the one's that built the building, it went elder rule, total change in theology as well as music, and the one's who built it were "disciplined" out the door.

    All perfectly legal. Nice building they stole, by the way. Now the one's that built the physical plant either worship at home or other churches.

    And the town views the one's currently in the building as having no integrity.
     

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