Styles of Worship

“Anyway, I love the hymns and the worship here. I realize that puts me in a small minority, but the vibrant congregation here at the Met Tab is a living and very definitive rebuttal to those who think contemporary “style,” rather than the power of God’s Word itself, is the essential key to church growth.”

Pryomaniac talks a lot about Metropolitan Tabernacle, a large vibrant innercity church.

The thing I want to discuss comes from this quote.

No one I know doubts that God’s Word is the essential to church growth. So I’m not touching on that.

Instead I want to talk about worship styles.

When I began this entry, I thought perhaps that the reason for the preference for worship styles might be expectations. So if you were raised with hymns, as I was, you would prefer them. But if you were not, as my son was, you would find them slow and boring. There is a problem with that though. My husband does not love the hymns of a traditional worship style, even though he was raised with them.

I love both the traditional and the contemporary worship styles. But they effect me in very different ways.

The traditional songs are more likely to be stories. And so I hear them as stories. Also, because I have a long church and family history with them, they are comfort songs. Much like there is comfort food.

The contemporary songs are more like love songs. Happy love songs. They touch the heart of my emotional attachment to Jesus. I am much more likely to cry, from joy or sorrow, with a contemporary song.

My husband, though he was raised in the same church tradition and sang the same songs as I did, had no family context to make those songs special. I did.

I know my grandmother’s favorite song was “I’ll Fly Away” because she sang it while she cleaned the kitchen. And that is part of what I think of when we sing it.

My brother’s favorite song, before he became an atheist, was “Up From the Grave He Arose” and I can never sing that song without thinking back to the joy of my brother and the sorrow that now fills his life. And I pray for him with that song with a fervency that is sometimes lacking.

I’ve got traditional songs that remind me of places. “This is My Father’s World” reminds me of the church in Corpus Christi and the sixty something year old saint who went out of her way to help those less fortunate, working with an adult literacy program, who had never had a birthday party in her life until our class gave her one. …

I have an attachment to both the old and the new songs that is not true for my husband or the older people in our congregation, in the other direction. To them there is no remembrance of joy at the first time I brought my son to church late when we were singing “For all that you’ve done I will thank you.” There is no connection to a church we helped start which taught us, “I Stand in Awe.” “These are the days of Elijah” does not make them cry and worship harder for the dozens of friends and the joy of a church left behind in our last move.

–I am not saying that those memories are all I think of, but they are attached to those songs. I remember standing with that small band of brothers for “I Stand in Awe.” And every time I sing it I think of Heaven and standing there praising God.

The more traditional members of our congregation don’t have those memories. The new songs probably make them confused, since there is no four part harmony, but only the melody or at most two parts. Most often we learn those songs without notes, which for people who grew up with singing schools is a problem.

I think styles of worship is more a preference than anything else. And in some measure, at least, it is a preference based on the meaning those songs have to you as a person. Not the songs or the style necessarily.

I found Pyromaniac via Blogotional.

One thought on “Styles of Worship

  1. Preference is good, but biblical is better. ie. I am saved b/c JC died for me, not because I have faith. Many worship songs focus on my actions and not Christ’ actions. I think that is the only problem with many songs today.

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