Tag Archive | Contemporary Music

A Word About Worship

Worship[1]Perhaps all of us have memories of walking in a forest or looking up at the stars on a clear night while worshipping and praising God for His creation!  However, how many times have we sat in a church pew on Sunday morning being critical, apathetic or “just there” physically, while our minds wandered to other subjects?

Even ministers, experts, and worship leaders have admitted they have had this experience, so should the rest of us be surprised if we also have trouble worshipping at times?  We face many obstacles in today’s active lifestyle and, in addition, Satan does his best to distract us and obstruct our true worship.  His desire to receive our worship instead of God results in his best efforts to distract and stop us from truly worshipping our Lord!  If successful, he has won half the battle. (Isaiah 14:12-14)

In 1961, the late A. W. Tozer rebuked evangelicals of his generation for their inadequate worship, in his book “Worship:  The Missing Jewel of the Evangelical Church”.  In 1982, Ronald Allen and Gordon Borror published a response in “Worship:  Rediscovering the Missing Jewel”.  They wrote, “The jewel is still missing, but at least now many of us know it, and miss it, and want to find it.”

For years some churches have prided themselves on free and spontaneous worship, while others have been equally proud of their staid and reverent attitude towards it.  Perhaps both have a point.  Could the ideal worship encompass both ends of the spectrum?  God is a God of balance and symmetry, and yet we as human beings tend to be off-balance on many issues, swaying first to the right and then to the left, when God is saying that somewhere in the middle we often find the ideal!

In a 1996 issue of “Moody” Magazine, published by Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, Bruce Shelley wrote an article titled, “Then and Now:  How Have Cultural Changes Altered our Expectations in Worship?”  In his informative article, Mr. Shelley details the explosive issues faced by churches attempting to change musical styles in their worship in order to improve their worship experience.  Although the need to do this was basically acknowledged by most, making it a non-controversial issue of the time, the difference of opinion as to how this should be accomplished was considerable.  In addressing the feelings that stir older members when churches change music styles, he told of the sanctified outrage he met with when he mentioned having drums in a service…”like a match dropped on a haystack!”  The room erupted in a corporate groan, followed by an outburst of laughter.  Remember, this article was written nearly twenty years ago when the changes in contemporary church worship were in their infancy.  Shelley went on to elaborate that churches across the country are “torn between the tug of tradition and the pull of style”.  Seniors want harmony; boomers want beat.  “What can be done to relieve this tension?” he asked.

Today, nearly twenty years later,  the “boomers” are the seniors in churches and the “millennials” have undertaken an even more radical approach to worship, shunning nearly all inferences to traditional church hymns or music of any sort, and imitating only the latest songs from the top “Christian” rock bands of the day or trendy pseudo-pop artists.  No matter that the music is absolutely “unsingable” to the average congregation (it sounds great on the radio where thousands of dollars have been spent to sync, digitize, loop and process each song); the lyrics trite and shallow; not to mention that the keys are pitched for high-voiced rock singers, not your average housewife or “man on the street” with zero musical ability.  Is it any wonder that when a person chances to look around the congregation, most of the audience is standing in silence, not even trying to sing?  Is this the way those attempting to come into God’s presence through corporate worship are encouraged to participate?

It is a fact that “loud cymbals” and “high sounding cymbals” are mentioned as a part of worship in Psalm 150:5 and elsewhere in the Psalms.  However, many other musical instruments used in praise and worship to God are mentioned, as well, such as the harp, lyre and ten-stringed instruments.  Should these be toned down and smothered in favor of the cymbals?  Could there be a musical balance that is pleasing to God that makes way for many instruments and styles of music?  Does the Psalmist speak about jubilant shouting in one psalm, as well as “waiting on God” and the “stillness of His presence” in another?  Are some of the anointed older hymns and songs of the past being shunned in favor of trendy fluff  with little or no theological or Bible-based soundness… not to mention, being poorly written from a musical standpoint, generally limited to three chords?  Who decided this appalling trend in music?

Perhaps, as “boomers” reach old age and “millennials” mature into middle age, there will be another generation that will emerge, seeking balance and wondering whatever happened to the hymns of old or the worship songs anointed of the Holy Spirit to bring people into a place of worship not readily experienced anymore.  Will they, then, return to the “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” mentioned in Colossians 3:16?  I pray they will!

Cold Pea Salad

I’ve received so many comments regarding the lack of variety and inclusion of worshipful hymns and songs that truly glorify God in our churches, that I have decided to include parts of just a few of them so you might see what some readers are thinking.  These have come as a result of several posts pertaining to the monotony, general lack of Biblical content, and “me” centered songs, rather than worshipful, melodious, Christ-centered ones.  Here are a few examples:


“This is real frustration felt by so many of us “old-timers”….I for one really loved the old hymns, and they still evoke a myriad of emotions in me…the new worship choruses, not so much.  Even so, the Holy Spirit speaks to hearts through music in spite of how it changes…all it takes is a receptive heart.”

“We have talked about taking ear plugs to church….”

“I struggle every week during worship with resentment at the worship team’s choice of songs.  Almost all are unfamiliar, “unsingable” due to complexity or range, or simply focused on the worshiper instead of the Lord.  And then the congregation applauds at the end of each song, which to me is praise for the singers, not the One being worshiped (it is not ‘clapping to the Lord’)….”

“The single largest problem the church faces today is having its priorities out of whack.  Worship and glorification of the Lord must come first, everything else including evangelism comes after.”


OK, so is it just disgruntled old “fogies” who are upset because their hymns have been replaced with contemporary worship songs? Do these people really hate lively songs with a good beat, including bass, guitars and percussion, preferring old, stale, slow, quiet hymns of another era? Or could it just be, perhaps, that they would like something called “variety” in worship?

Recently my husband and I attended a live, on-stage performance of C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters“, in which his famous book is portrayed in monologue form.  The late writer used allegory, symbolism and a hint of sarcasm to portray Satan and his demons at work on earth and especially in the church, among the saints who professed faith in Jesus Christ.  Let me try a little of his brilliant technic (however, probably not quite as brilliantly and cleverly as his was)!

I recently went to a buffet (or smorgasbord, as the Swedes call it) to hopefully try a variety of foods for my palate.  I was starved and looked forward to heaping my plate up with lots of goodies!  To my horror, I discovered that every dish on the serving line was filled with “Cold Pea Salad” as the signs indicated.  Now, I love “Cold Pea Salad” and started to take a heaping spoonful, but then I realized that the next spoonful and the next would be the same….my plate was soon full of “Cold Pea Salad”!  When I asked the manager what this was all about, he smiled and told me very politely that the restaurant had tried serving “Cold Peaches” about ten years ago, but people got weary of them.  So, about five years ago they switched entirely to “fish”; of course, the same thing happened, he said…people got very tired of fish before long!  So, now they were serving what he was sure everyone loved, “Cold Pea Salad”!  When I asked him if there was any chance of getting something else to eat, he promptly told me that a restaurant up the street was serving “Green Bean Salad” to all of its customers and I might like to try that one.  I thanked him and left.  On the way out, he shouted at me, “Oh, by the way, ma am, next Tuesday we’ll have a special menu; it will be ‘Chilled Pea Casserole’.  You might want to come back for that!”  Thankfully, I found a restaurant a few blocks away with a varied menu and enjoyed my meal!

Now, of course, you can see how ridiculous this is, but in many ways, it seems the Church has followed this line of thinking.  When it observed the world coming out with a new style of music, it was not too far behind in following the trend, instead of setting it!  If a survey showed that people of a certain age group (and this is certainly our target audience; who cares about the rest!) enjoy one kind of music, we shall bend over backward to please them, ignoring the cries of, “Can’t we have some variety?  I like this kind of music, and the guy over there likes another.  Can’t we sing both styles occasionally?”

I made a promise to myself and to my blog followers on my first post that I would not write a “negative rant” for a blog.  I have tried to keep this promise!  If I point out a “negative”, or a problem, for example, I would like to follow it up with a “positive”.  That is why I am going to post Part Two of this blog next week with some possible solutions to this situation.  I have prayed and asked the Lord to guide me in what I write and I feel that the Holy Spirit has given me some good ideas that may be a blessing and of some benefit to worship leaders and those in the congregation, as well.  ‘Til next time, be blessed!