The State of Church Music (in the Worship Era)
Several months ago, LifeWay Worship Director, Mike Harland, met with several of our State Worship & Music Directors to discuss, “The State of Church Music (in the Worship Era).”
This video explores these questions:
- What is the state of church music (in the worship era)?
- Describe church music today.
- How would you describe different worship styles to pastors?
- What are your thoughts on multi-style approaches to ministry?
- What would you say to a pastor that wants to change worship styles because their church isn’t growing?
- What is your perspective of multi-style churches and diverse congregations?
- What are we teaching our children when it comes to worship?
Take a look:
Do you agree with the assessments? I welcome your comments.
The state of Church Music is one of “animus” against anything classical, traditional, SATB choral or performance based activites in music ministry. Old/Traditional = bad, unspiritual, not from God, unholy while new styles signify a style that is more holy, participants are more spiritual and the practice is more Godly. Worship is designed to mimic the style found on modern praise and worship CD’s, Christian artist albums and model movements like Hillsong or the professional music minitries of Matt Redman. Churches labelled “in” or “out” as far as the style of music featured on Sunday Morning.
Church music ministries have basically been dumbed down to those who as youth experienced worship one way and then wanted to replicate that way into adulthood. Pushback to these attempts have been with scorn and name calling so that over time, the most popular won. Choirs were disbanded, later welcomed back but only for stage eye candy (gotta do something with this huge, empty choir loft!) and only for backing up a select group of musicians who’ve been deemed the holiest of holies, possessing the necessary spirtual requirements (not to mention phsycial and fashion attributes) to lead in front of the church.
It is lead by baby boomers who had bad experiences in churches as a youth, many who have held secret a drean to be in a rock band and offended and annoying by the slightest sound of a pip organ.
In others it’s a very sad, ignorant state of affairs in which we currently live.
I do agree with most, if not all of the assessments, particularly the reference to the term “blended” service. Very often the term, in practice, becomes merely an attempt to accommodate every music preference within the fellowship in a single service. It becomes in essence a “two- service” mentality applied in a “one-service” format. While the motivating desire for unity behind this choice may be honorable it fails in that it never engages the several stylistic “camps” in a unified, truly corporate worship. The emphasis then in planning for worship becomes a balancing act where we carefully distribute our time equally among the various tastes. Indirectly, I fear that this only deepens the “disunity” by accommodating it’s root. Interestingly enough, most churches wouldn’t think of having two services or a blended service where the peaching was divided among two or more stylistically different speakers. Unfortunately the casualty in these “worship wars” is most often “worship” itself. It has been helpful I think in the church I serve to clearly and frequently call the church back to an understanding of “worship” as the response of God’s people to the manifestation of His presence. (Isaiah 6). With this thinking, we introduce our services with a “call to worship.” Whether a hymn or a reading, or a more contemporary musical offering, our focus is upon inviting one another to seek the Lord. In this “call” we try to assure that the lyrics of the song chosen communicate that “call” clearly. We begin our services understanding that few if any in attendance are at that moment, worshipping the Lord. So we call them and ourselves to make seeking the Lord the priority for that morning or evening. We try then to bring the tempo of the music increasingly toward a more contemplative tone in preparation for the proclamation of the God’s word; usually trying to select songs that lyrically communicate our desperate need for the Lord. At the conclusion of the preaching of the word, we try to transition to a time of invitation smoothly, often with instrumental tracks, so as not to distract the members of the congregation in whom the Lord is working. Once ample time is given for the church to respond to the Lord’s leading, we try to conclude the services with more “up tempo” songs of praise to the Lord for what he has accomplished in our hearts during that time. This pattern has been helpful to us I think in that the music becomes, not so much “worship” but an instrument both to lead us toward an encounter with the Risen Christ and to provide an effective means of expressing the blessedness of that encounter. I worry that we expend a lot of our energy attempting to “engage” our folks in worship while devoting comparatively little time to prior prayer asking the Lord to manifest His presence and in so doing, make true “worship” possible. This is the experience that will transcend our personal preferences and truly unify us in the corporate worship of our great and glorious God! Thanks for the video, it was very helpful!