All posts tagged "Worship wars"

Does your church have ‘segregated worship?’


That is, does church feature different kinds of music at different services? Do the children or young people have a separate worship gathering of their own apart from the main congregation? Tullian Tchvidian of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church writes: …Many churches offer a traditional service for the tribe who prefer older music and a contemporary service for the tribe who prefer newer music. The truth is, however, that if the only type of music you employ in a worship service is old, you inadvertently communicate that God was more active in the past than he is in the present. On the other hand, if the only type of music you employ in a worship service is new, you inadvertently communicate that God is more active in the present than he was in the past… And this: The only way to musically communicate God’s timeless activity in the life of the church is to blend the best of the past with the best of the present. In other words, we must remember in our worship that while “contemporary only” people operate with their heads fixed frontwards, never looking over their shoulder at the stock from which they have come, and “traditional only” people operate with their heads on backwards, romanticizing about the past and always wanting to go back, the Church, in contrast from both extremes, is called upon to be a people with swiveling heads: learning from the past, living in the present, and looking to the future. That’s the only way to avoid in worship what C.S. Lewis called “chronological snobbery.” Here’s the clincher: You see, when we separate people according to something as trivial as musical preferences, we evidence a fundamental failure to comprehend the heart of the gospel. We’re not only feeding toxic tribalism; we’re also saying the gospel can’t successfully bring these two different groups together. It’s a declaration of doubt about the unifying power of God’s gospel. Generational appeal in worship is an admission that the gospel is powerless to join together what man has separated. Coral Ridge combined their services for the first time in many years this past Sunday, so the church is practicing what the preacher is saying. What do you think?  Does he have a point?  Too strong? Is Tullian majoring on minors or is he spot on?


Read More

Testing music


Ed Stetzer of Lifeway has seven helpful tests to filter through song selections for worship, five of which are cultural rather than theological. The third (Association test) has this anecdote: I was…speaking to a group of pastors, some of whom were Jamaican. I was challenging them to consider that there is no such thing as Christian music, only Christian lyrics. I asked if God could use jazz; they said yes. I asked if God could use country/western, they said yes. I asked a few others; then I asked if God could use reggae. They were shocked and clearly expressed that it was not appropriate. Reggae music was about drugs and there would be no reason to sing about drugs in church. They had a point. I then asked if it would be OK to use reggae music in my church where we have no concept of the drug connection. They agreed. The music was not the problem, the association was. The key question for the association test is this, “What does the music bring to mind in the heart of the worshipper?”  Note:  not what does it inspire in my heart– but what does it inspire in the heart of the worshipper. The history of church music suggests that every generation has its own music.  Today, many older Christians reject the contemporary music of the younger believers, while the younger don’t understand or use the music of past generations… His conclusion: God can use ANY form of music. God has no musical style or preference. Therefore, with the exception of the message and purpose test, the only tests that we have provided are cultural. The question is asked, “What impact does this music have on the culture via association, memory, emotions, understanding, and music?” These are not easy questions–but they are essential. Read the entire post here.


Read More

No compromise in the worship wars


Great post here by Ed Stetzer titled “Ending the Worship Wars without a Truce.” His thoughts about ending the “periennal war over worship” includes these 5 ideas: Rally around Truth, not a truce Acknowledge that preferences are personal Realize relevance and reverence are not at war with each other Embrace humilty Cultivate consensus, not compromise. Quotables include: The reason worship wars exist is because the church thinks it is fighting for something permanent when it is actually temporary. Musical styles and service preferences are like a jacket that can be taken on or off depending upon the temperature. and this: At the heart of many of our worship wars is, sad to say, idolatry. Our worship of things other than God drives the way we contend for ways to worship God. When reverence is equated with austerity, it can reveal an idolization of familiarity and comfort and control. When relevance is equated with a production carte blanche or “freedom of expression,” it can reveal an idolization of trendiness and self and showmanship. Both relevance and reverence can cloak idolatry of cultural forms and expressions. Well said.  Read the whole post here.


Read More

Functional mystics and anemic Christians?


Greg Gilbert over at The Gospel Coalition Blog is wondering if the modern praise and worship movement hasn’t had unintended consequences: I wonder if the whole “excellence in praise and worship music” phenomenon we’ve seen over the past few years–for all the good it’s done–hasn’t also had some less-than-desirable effects on young Christians. I wonder if it hasn’t created a generation of functional mystics who gauge their relationship with God by emotional experience rather than the objective reality of redemption… I am really afraid that we’ve managed to create a generation of anemic Christians who are spiritually dependent on excellent music. Their sense of spiritual well-being is based on feeling“close to God,” their feeling close to God is based on their “ability to worship,” and being able to worship depends on big crowds singing great music. Just as bad, think about how many church fights and divisions are rooted in disagreements about music. People leave churches because they don’t like the music. Christians who believe exactly the same things about Jesus worship in different buildings next door to each other because they can’t countenance one another’s musical style. Churches split because one faction wants “contemporary” music and another wants “traditional” music. It’s not the words that are at issue; it’s how the words are sung, and to what instrumentation. The thing even has its own name–the “Worship Wars,” which when translated with a little honesty is really “the Music Wars.” Greg Gilbert, Against Music, The Gospel Coalition Blog Agree?  Disagree?


Read More

Verbatim: R.C. Sproul on the worship wars


Nice post here from a respected theologian (also my former seminary prof) concerning church music which, in part, says: It is instructive to remember that most of the hymns that are now well-received in the church as part of the classic depository of hymnody were considered innovative at one time. In fact, many hymn writers borrowed from the musical styles that were popular in the secular world of their day, put them into a Christian context, and introduced them into the life of the church. In some cases, people raised objections to certain styles of music being used in the church. For instance, one of the most beloved hymn writers in fundamentalist circles, Fanny Crosby, consciously used the musical style that was popular in the bars of her day, and it was scandalous to people. It is an undeniable truth that when musical forms and styles change in the secular world, the new styles inevitably find their way into the church. Read the rest  here.


Read More