Ok, I might open up a big can of worms on this subject, but I feel it is necessary to offer my point of view. First, let me be clear I am a lover of all music. Many days I am in a blues mood, some day’s jazz, standards, classic rock, Christian, country and yes, even bluegrass. I have learned to play all of these genres at one time or another in my days as a musician. And have grown to appreciate all that every genre offers.
There is a saying called the last eight words of a church. “That’s the way we have always done it!” Change is part of a church’s existence. The Bible clearly says “Sing to the Lord a new song” Psalm 149. So change is encouraged for the health of the church. This is not saying anything old has to be put aside to “bring in the new.” On the contrary, everything can be honored and worshipped together. The bigger picture is what many overlook. The health of any church is its progression to adapt to change for the better of the mission.
When we were young, we told our parents “If its too loud your to OLD.” Now we complain that we don’t like the volume. We could just bring in a piano, guitar and sing some Matt Redman songs and some hymns and God would show up. Cause that is how it was done in the day. Here is the bitter truth, middle age and youth do not want to listen to music, “they want to experience it.” If they feel the kick drum hitting their chest, chances are they will say this is awesome! Youth will never say music is too soft. They will just say, “Looks and sounds nice” and disengage and go somewhere else. This is a generation we need to reach for the health and longevity of the church. Again, let me be clear on this. This does not mean we put traditions aside; we want everyone to join the celebration of what God is doing in our church. Pastor Scot Longyear a friend of mine from Maryland Community Church that has eight campuses offers earplugs at the doors as you walk into his church. He was asking everyone for grace for the bigger picture. If it is too loud, use the earplugs and raise your hands in worship. The next generation is just as important as our generation.
I remember my parents were not thrilled with the Beatles, Grand Funk Railroad, Kiss, Chicago, Eric Clapton and other groups I listened to growing up. Even though it was not their preference, they saw what an impact it had on me. When I walked into my church growing up, you could smell the hymnals. I had no idea what was being sung and was totally disengaged. But, when I saw someone with a guitar singing about God, it changed the way I looked at God. We need to look at ourselves and see the impact music is having on the next generation.
Reverend Billy Graham passed away a few weeks ago. The world lost an incredible servant, and for his entire lifetime, he proclaimed the name of Jesus. There was an article he wrote about the parishioners complaining about style and choice of music. Here is Billy Graham’s response.
I know this has been a controversial issue in many churches, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers, especially since I’m not particularly musical! But we have a singing faith, and God has given us the gift of music to praise Him. The Psalmist declared, “With singing lips, my mouth will praise you” (Psalm 63:5).
Instead of complaining to your pastor (or anyone else), I urge you to ask God to help you be grateful for all music that points us to God, new or old. No, you may not like some of it, but others do, and God can use it in their lives to encourage them and bring them closer to Christ. Remember: The old hymns you like were once new, and someone probably didn’t like them, either!
Sometimes, I’m afraid; a hymn can become so familiar to us that we sing it without even thinking about the words. But this is wrong because then our singing becomes empty and meaningless. Don’t let this happen to you, but meditate on the words of the songs you sing, and even turn them into a prayer.
Your music director has probably been wise to introduce new songs slowly; completely changing everything all at once can be disruptive. Pray for him and encourage him, letting him know that you’re grateful for his gifts. Yes, let him know you appreciate the old hymns, but support him also as he seeks to reach a new generation through music.
I realize the introduction of new music makes some people uncomfortable and it’s not the hymns. However, God uses it to grow hearts for many new people, to meet their needs. As I said my first Sunday here, there will be days that I play all the songs you like and days where I play none that you like. But the goal is to sings songs that glorify God, and lead you into his presence. So, I appreciate all types of music, and all will be celebrated, please know that all songs are sung to glorify God PERIOD!