Worship Wars

Do you think that contemporary praise and worship should replace hymns in church services?

I invite everyone to visit Solid Rock UMC for an example of how “out of date” the term “contemporary” is (ironically). Floodgate, Solid Rock’s headlining praise band, carries us to a place that is much further than any “contemporary” praise and worship. For Solid Rock, and ‘The Flood’ (an exceptional service where FloodGate leads as they worship in various host churches throughout the Carolinas), the vision calls for something more than “contemporary.” However, this is not a universal when speaking of God’s move in every church and church service, or with every person called “Christian.”

Just as I am often accused of being an anti-traditionalist (which I am not; said church traditions simply are not my own), I am also accused of not liking hymns. If the truth is told, I just don’t know many hymns (for the same reason that church traditions are not my own; I wasn’t raised in the church). To further tell the truth, the biblical theology contained in the hymns of the church, as a rule, are exceptional. In fact, their theology (in my opinion) far exceeds the warm and fuzzy feel good emotionalism, as a rule, of praise and worship. But it is the music supporting the lyrics that is the “hook” for most praise and worship. This is the bottom line for many of the fans of praise and worship over the old hymns. “Stiff and stale” are the descriptors for the hymns, while “alive and free” are used to describe praise and worship.

Though, again, these descriptions are not universal. There is a church in Thomasville (Pleasant grove UMC) where a full choir with robes, piano, and organ are utilized. While they also have a contemporary service, this church brings an “alive and free” feeling to the old hymns during their traditional service. I still do not know the hymns, but I certainly sense God just as much in one service as the other.

Thus, allow me to make two observations from this conversation.

First, in the form of a question, when will we quit blaming the music (hymns) for our lack of spirituality? While some will be attracted to praise and worship, others will be drawn to the hymns. We cannot say, logically, that one group contains “better” or “more spiritual” Christians, but only “different” Christians. I tell you it is Vision (or the lack thereof) which affects the spirituality of a church. And music (or hymns) reflects that Vision.

Second, I am a Metal-Head. I like heavy metal. Many “Christian-Metal” bands rework old hymns into extreme-hymns. They keep the original theological lyrics and change the music to meet a certain genre. So, my question is, can we not mix, also, praise and worship and hymns? Certainly someone has thought of this. I predict that this form of music will be a part of the Vision of many churches in the not-too-distant future!

Therefore, the heavier the better in my opinion! But I also realize that this will not work in many church settings. It is the Vision of each local church, I think, that is in question. And the “worship wars” reflect this question. Give me music, but give me theology!!

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