Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Musical Unity?

Worship Wars Divide Us                                                                                        
Much has been written about the “worship wars” of recent decades sparked largely by the change of music from traditional to contemporary. Charles Swindoll, in his book Church Awakening details these wars in a balanced way. He says “What God intended for his glory and for our corporate and personal growth­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ – worship, has been transformed from a soul-deep commitment to an ugly, carnal fight.” This is sad but true. Swindoll also says, “God intends our corporate worship to be a unified voice directed at Him-for Him.”

The March 2011 issue of Christianity Today featured many articles on worship music including one by religion professor T. David Gordon titled “Pop Goes the Music.” Gordon wrote “’traditional’ and ‘contemporary’ have become their own denominations." Many churches hold separate traditional and contemporary services. This effectively divides the congregation. Unity is lost as well as community. Gordon also notes the change from music as a participatory experience to a passive one. Worship, in many contemporary settings, resembles entertainment with the congregation listening. The volume of the music stifles singing along. Shouldn’t worship involve everyone?  

Wayne Grudem in his chapter on worship in Systematic Theology writes: Singing is especially important to worship in both the Old and New Testaments. In our day there has been quite a change in both the standard English that is spoken by people and the musical forms that people are familiar with, and churches need to talk and plan openly and honestly in order to find a mix of songs that can be sung  well by the whole congregation, and that people can genuinely identify with as a vehicle for expressing their praise to God. Songs that address God directly in the second person (that is, speaking to God as “you” rather than speaking about him as “he”) will often be especially effective as worship songs - though Psalms show that both kinds of songs are pleasing to God.”

Swindoll says, “If you have found a church where music has a proper and prominent place, centering its message on the word of God, you have found a rare church. Don’t lose that place.”
Worship wars can be avoided by holding two identical services which blend hymns and contemporary songs. In this way the congregation is not split into traditional and contemporary, young and old. All generations worship together. Unity is maintained.

Jesus prayed for our unity. We must live it as a church.

Blessings, Dottie
For more on Worthy Worship + church changes read Changing Churches - available on Amazon(on sale for $8.82)

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