As I was entering elementary school I took an interest in music and have never lost my fascination with the history, various genres, and performance techniques of music. When asked about my favorite type of music — I usually respond with, “what week is it?” I enjoy a wide variety and I would have to say I am very fickle in my tastes. (One playlist on my iPod ranges from Bluegrass — to Motown — to the Soundtrack from the Blues Brothers — to Modern opera — Billy Joel — some country — well, I think you get the point).
I often encounter those who are about my age who speak very disparagingly of modern Christian music (okay– I agree some of it is a bit on the mediocre side) and the use of “contemporary” music in worship. There is something important that I learned in my college days and music appreciation courses. Almost every style of music was considered the absolute worst of musical expression in its time by the traditionalists of the day.
- In his day some thought Mozart’s music was terrible
- What we consider classic hymns were once modern “contemporary” songs and considered suspect
- The Peterson choruses of the late 50’s and the 60’s were not well received in many churches early on — now some appear in the hymn book
My point is that just as the music of the 1960’s spoke to a generation — and had it’s critics, so did disco music (disco isn’t dead – it still lives on my iPod) as did the music of the 1980’s. Somehow the 1980’s music spoke to my kids and I hated it. Now I find myself listening quite contently to those 80’s hits on a local classic radio station.
While worship should always have the context of respect and honor for God — it also should be conducted in a manner that moves people’s hearts and souls. Music is just another language — another method of communicating.
I use blogs, Facebook, Twitter, computers, email, and the like to improve my communication of biblical truth. I have even used fill-in-the-blank sermon outline handouts and PowerPoint in my sermons. Shouldn’t I also be willing to use the innovations and trends in music to communicate to my audience?
Next time the youth band plays in a service — try to smile. Give them some kind words. You may not like it — but you love them (or should) — and you want them to learn how to share the call of Jesus with their peers.
My Father hated the music of the 1960’s — but he loved me and let me learn to play many Beatles and Rolling Stone numbers on the piano so I could communicate with my music. He also demanded I learn the great hymns and classical religious numbers — only fair! My Led Zepplin days were a bit tougher — but we made it.
In the 1990’s when Dad was working at a Christian College and the student led chapels were dominated by loud guitar and drum-driven-rock-style music he sat in the back row and smiled and appeared to appreciate their efforts. Dad always had a kind word for the students and encouraged them to use whatever means they could to reach their peers.
(By the way — he also sat there with his hearing aids turned off, probably heard very little — but he still smiled…..)