Lets Solve the "Worship Style/Music" debate once and for all...

Discussion in 'Music Ministry' started by Batt4Christ, Sep 10, 2011.

  1. Batt4Christ

    Batt4Christ
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    Ok - so the title is a bit wishful thinking, but lets get down to the nitty-gritty of the debate many of us have seen (and actually causes many churches to be distracted from the far more important work of reaching the lost and making disciples).

    Many of us have experienced it - Many of the "older" crowd just won't have or tolerate anything not found in the old Broadman or Heavenly Highway Hymns books. They often even go out on the tangent of "that is what REAL worship music is"...What an amazingly closed-minded view (and terribly wrong).

    Then you have the mostly "younger" folks who know and "feel" that the more modern/contemporary stuff is the only "real" worship music. Again - misguided and closed-minded (and terribly wrong).


    Those supporting the "Old" hymns love those old hymns because that is what they grew up with. That is all they have ever known, and is what is near and dear to their hearts. What they fail to see - the current music fits the exact same description for most of the younger generations. It is what they know and understand.

    Unfortunately, some on the other side of the argument fail to see the value and real beauty in those old hymns.

    Since so many on both sides cannot agree.. lets just look at what is "traditional"...especially for Baptists:

    All the way through the late 19th Century, a great deal of Baptist hymnody was based on the Psalms. Many of the more conservative Baptists in Britain also used more poetic, usually unison music, with sometimes complicated melodies. Print music was rare - and part singing unheard of. Until the more "show/burlesque/Vaudeville" - styled music that makes up some of those "traditional" hymns in those beloved hymn books - there would not have been anything that made you want to tap your toes or clap your hands. There wouldn't have been anything with a fast tempo.

    Then comes the early 20th Century and the hymn writers from several different protestant faiths that picked up tempos, used more showy melodies and harmonies that mirrored those of the secular music of the time. In some circles, it caused a backlash, and for many - including of many Baptist traditions, acceptance came slowly. Yet so many of those formerly "edgy" and "modern" hymns are now the "traditional" and "only appropriate" music for worship, according to many (including my own congregation).

    So - the next time someone throws a fit agains "contemporary" music, then offer to find some old Psalms with a simple melody for everyone to sing in unison. Make sure you keep the tempo SLOW...

    A funny "story" as an illustration:
    http://thewall.baptistvoiceministries.com/2011/06/19/a-funny-story-about-hymns-and-praise-songs/
     
  2. RG2

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    I have to say that from being young myself (28) and doing some college ministry in the last decade it seems there almost is beginning a shift back toward the traditional, or at least a renewed appreciation for it. Of course it isn't quite the Piano/Organ traditional a lot of us are used to, but taking familiar lyrics and putting them to more modern music with more modern instrumentation.

    10-20 years ago when these arguments started to arise, I probably would have agreed with the traditional side. I remember singing many a fluff praise chorus (funny thing is a majority of those are now included in modern hymnals). However, I believe a number of the songs coming out the last couple of years have closed that gap.

    At the church I'm at now we don't even have a "traditional" service, we have a service where there's a southern gospel/bluegrass band that plays hymns and Gaither styled music. Even with that we sometimes still have some grumblings about our "modern" service. Though I know eventually we will probably go past this argument, the downside is it might not be until there's another generational shift in the church.
     
  3. Eric B

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  4. mandym

    mandym
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    More like 11 or 12 times
     
  5. nodak

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    I've come to realize it is only a battle if we choose to make it a turf war.

    If I find the music (or preaching or teaching or whatever) at my church moves me further away from Christ, I can always discuss it with my brothers and sisters. If the majority find what moves me FROM Christ moves them CLOSER TO Christ, rather than cause a split, I can quietly find another place to worship.

    Now, mind you, that is exercising soul freedom and I should not be castigated for doing so.

    Now, of course, if enough folks in a group feel that way and worship "elsewhere", it may cause that original church to close down.

    So be it.

    It only becomes a problem when either side is in to forcing the other side to do things "my way."

    For example: older folks griping out the young'uns for not attending the style of worship the older folks want. That shouldn't be a problem--let the young'uns plant a church. Or younger folks complaining when the old tithers leave for greener pastures that the old geezers just "don't care about the cause of Christ." No, kiddies, the old folks are not in the wrong for not handing over the reins of the church to you while still footing the bill.

    I think there is less a music war and more collateral damage from the church growth movement.

    I remember when a town the size of where I live would have had 8-10 small Baptist churches, with one or two having full time pastors and the rest bivo or volunteer leadership. The tone and style of each would have been different. And know what? They more successfully reached the lost in the community.

    But now we choose a demographic based on who has more $$ AND is likely to have it for the longest time, compete to get the biggest building/highest paid pastor (gotta pay off those student loans!) and try to force all the sheep into the same pen.

    I humbly suggest we STOP trying to change traditional churches into contemporary ones to "grow" them, and STOP trying to force contemporary churches to go traditional "because we like traditional."

    If we STOP trying to maintain and grow institutions, and instead plant churches and seek the salvation of the lost, the war will stop. Sure some churches--of various styles--will live out their life cycle and die, and others will crop up. I believe that would be much more healthy than trying to force all churches to fit some "marketing survey" and McDonaldize them.

    Let's try Burger King for a while--let each group "have it your way."

    Jesus must love variety anyway--look at all the flowers He designed!

    Maybe letting each group "have it your way" is more letting Him have it HIS way anyway.
     
  6. 12strings

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    I would suggest that this may NOT be the best solution to the problem, even though it happens a lot in different forms. Whether it's a younger crowd going off to start their own church, or a church having 2 different services for the purpose of having 2 different worship styles...I think it is misguided.

    Here's why: In the early church, the Apostle Paul said that in Christ there was neither Jew nor greek, slave nor free, male nor female. You had jews and gentiles worshiping together in harmony, you had a slave worshiping next to his slaveowner. Surely we can have one worship service with both young and old, those who love organs and those who love guitars. I think it says something very wrong to the world and to the church to say, "We are united in Christ, he has broken down the barriers the world sets up, but we just can't worship god Together with these types of people who like that type of music.

    That said, sure, a new church plant is going to have lots more freedom with music than a 100 yr old rural baptist church.

    Amen, though all churches will naturally change their musical styles somewhat as different people take leadership. that's a good thing, but it requires wisdom and patience by both the leader and the congregation. The leader should seek to use, most of the time, the music that most resonates with most of the congregation. That's simply common sense. and in most cases, that will include quite a few hymns...even for younger people...because they are simply easier to sing.

    I lead music at a church with ages split this way on a Sunday morning:
    (this is just me estimating)
    70's & 80's = 20%
    50's & 60's = 15%
    40's = 15%
    30's = 20%
    20's = 10%
    Teens = 7%
    Kids = 13%

    We do about half older Hymns & half New Hymns (Contemporary songs...I think they are all hymns). We use a Piano, Guitar, Bass, and sometimes a drum set....But even with the younger people, the songs that people sing the best, with the most energy, are some of the older hymns.

    That's all for now.
     
  7. preachinjesus

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    Most younger evangelicals aren't having is battle anymore. Reason: they quietly (usually) left their traditionalist churches and went off to start their own churches that almost all use a progressive worship style.

    Look at a list of some of the fastest growing churches and you'll find they almost all have contemporary (whatever that means) worship styles and are generationally young.

    I grew up in a traditional music church. I appreciate that style and love the generations and people who expect it on Sunday. However, it isn't the type of church that I would regularly attend.
     
  8. nodak

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    I grew up in a small village with limited church choices.

    But, the next nearest town of any size 25 miles away had around 10 Baptist churches.

    More than music is involved in style wars.

    There was the little traditional fundamentalist church, and the little traditional non fundamentalist church.

    There were churches where the preachers were seminary trained, everyone dressed up in suits or nice dresses, and where the preaching used "big words."

    And there were churches where the preacher drove truck weekdays, men wore khakies and the ladies wore homemade cotton dresses and the preaching sounded like Andy Griffith was doing it.

    There were churches doing bluegrass style singing, country singing, and one that sounded downright operatic to my childish ears.

    There were fancy buildings with columns on the front, and simple box like woodframe buildings. There were some with nice paved parking and some did good to keep the weeds beat down.

    But what WAS good was that there was a church where everyone felt at home. There wasn't any fussing over style, with one group trying to make the others do things the way they did things.

    Rather, there was understanding that a service that draws an attorney to God might not draw a roughneck to God, and vice versa. It was acceptable to have your culture in the church you attended--whatever the culture was.

    And had you tried to herd us all into one church, citing that we were after all one body in Christ we would have just laughed at the idea that one body could not meet in different buildings or times.

    We were tied together with a rope of sand--cooperation--rather than being strangled by being hogtied by some self declared human ruler gonna make us all do things "one way."

    In fact, we called that Catholicism and roundly rejected it.

    And I do believe that if we tossed out all the books on how to make "your" church the biggest one in town and started cooperating again we could end the war, and focus on the bigger war--snatching the brands from the burning.
     
  9. 12strings

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    I'm not saying every baptist church in a certain area should merge into one church. Each church will have its own "feel," and that's a good thing. Someone searching for a church should find the one where they can feel at home.

    However, I was thinking more of families growing up in a church. I don't believe we need to have all the old people go to the "traditional" service, while the younger people (their children) go to the "contemporary" service. Even when there are separate classes and programs for different ages throughout a week, I believe the main worship service should include the whole body of Christ.

    -andy
     
  10. nodak

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    I would disagree, but then I once had the privilege of being a member of First Baptist Church Bloomfield NM. Multiple styles and services, yet very much one growing church.

    Now, definitely more work on the pastor and staff.

    But not at all divisive.

    Oddly enough, the contemporary service is not all young'uns. Not all the young'uns that go there choose that service, either.

    Check out their website--might be an eye opener.

    They don't do this because they can't all get along once a week, but rather to better evangelize their county.
     
  11. Aaron

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    :laugh:

    How long was that? Twenty, thirty years? :laugh:

    That sure settles it!:laugh::laugh:
     
    #11 Aaron, Sep 14, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2011
  12. 12strings

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    I guess I'm questioning 2 things:

    1. Whether a church should change or focus their musical style for the purpose of appealing to more people...(Should worship be seen as for believers or to draw in unbelievers?)

    2. If doing this encourages a consumeristic view of church where most people's #1 reason for choosing a church is the musical style.
     
  13. nodak

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    Well, I'm an old fogey that believe the purpose of the preachin' service is to evangelize, so I don't have a problem with some degree of cultural accomodation.

    That said, I am old fogey enough to think we need to be very very careful when doing that. Even within music styles, some I believe honors God and some doesnt--and that goes for any style. That also is an unpopular stand, but it is my personal conviction.

    But there is nothing wrong with a degree of accomodation. If you want to do a church plant in some parts of west Texas or eastern NM, you might want to not try doing it with Christian rap. Might want to dress cowboy style, too.

    That might not get you too far in Passaic.

    We can fight all day over what is going too far in accomodating culture.

    I'm just saying whenever we reach that point, it might be best to just align ourselves with our own affinity group.

    If I attend "First Baptist" and it goes rock concert style, I can look around. If "Second Baptist" is doing hymns and I believe that is "right way" to do church, instead of fussing, why not quietly move over there?

    On the other hand, if I move to a town with one Baptist church and they do old hymns and everybody there is on board with that, but I like rock, why go in and try to force them to my point of view? Why not either hush up and sing hymns or plant another church?
     
  14. FriendofSpurgeon

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    Old fogey here too. Very good points. Agree with all except for the first paragraph. The purpose of the worship service is for God's people to worship and glorify God -- not evangelism.
     
  15. nodak

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    Maybe I overstated--we had morning services (evangelistic)and evening services (for believers.)
     
  16. Berean

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    I enjoy both contemporary and traditional. IMO there are several types of gospel music, worship, praise, inspirational and entertaining. Where I have dificulty is use of it at inapproiate times. Two of my favorites are When I Survey The Wonderous Cross and This Old House but I don't believe the latter would be appropiate as the Sunday Morning Anthem just prior to the Word.
     
  17. Gina B

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    LOL @ the story! One of my pet peeves is only doing the first and last verse or 1, 3, and 5 and WHAT is up with the key change every single time?!

    So often, a hymn tells a story and the story is incomplete with only some of the story told. If a church doesn't have time to worship in song, cut that part of the service out that day or only sing the songs you have time for. What if I made an apple crisp to take to a pot luck (trying to give an example of something Baptists can relate too) and left off the crisp topping and just brought in baked apples and still called it apple crisp?
    That would be silly.
    But to do it with worship? It strikes me as just wrong and the only conclusion to such a service would be to make "I Surrender Some" be the closing hymn.
     
  18. 12strings

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    So should we sing all 18 stanzas of "O For a thousand tongues"?

    :)
     
  19. FriendofSpurgeon

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    Reminds me of an old saying -- "as lonesome as the 3rd stanza in the Baptist Hymnal." :laugh:
     
  20. FriendofSpurgeon

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    It's more than just music -- though that's a big part of it. It's also about the individual church's culture. Every church always has its own culture -- everything from dress to music to liturgy (or lack of) to preaching style to translation, etc. Here are some examples.

    I often visited my parent's church in another state. It is very conservative -- women wear dresses, men wear coat & ties. Even the children dress this way. They use the KJV (not even the NJKV). They normally sing hymns accompanied by an organ & a piano only, but sometimes an orchestral instrument is used as well. Never a drum or a guitar.

    I sometimes visit another church on Saturday evening. Shorts and sandals are common attire and the music is very contemporary. Lots of guitars and drums. Definitely no organ music here and no liturgy. The pastor wears khakis, a button down shirt and deck shoes - no robe or even a coat and tie.

    This past weekend I was traveling and visited a church in another state on Sunday morning. It is in a college town and the average age looked to be in their 20's. Great music though again very contemporary, but the service was somewhat liturgical in style. Very casual dress (again a college town), with shorts/jeans and sandals very much the norm - even on Sunday morning. Even the pastor wore shorts and flip flops.

    And all 3 are Baptist.
     

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