In today’s churches, one of the biggest battles is one of my biggest passions – praise and worship through song.
Congregations are constantly arguing about which is better, traditional or contemporary. I remember several years ago the church I attended began singing some contemporary praise choruses. One would have thought we started worshiping someone other than God. The bickering, complaining, and criticizing got out of control. One day I walked into church to worship and I could have cut the tension with a knife, it was so thick. People stopped talking to people, it got that crazy.
Why do we concentrate so much on the “type” of song we are singing instead of the words we are singing? Why are we so worried about if it is traditional or more contemporary? I think there are a couple of reasons.
1. “We have sang the hymns for years – it’s what we know” – This is one of those “we do it because we have always done it”. We are creatures of habit and when something new comes along it is hard to adjust, especially for those who are older. I find this to be true of myself at times. However, what we need to remember is that over time, things do change, and as people, we have to stretch ourselves, keep an open mind and move forward.
2. “I like the old hymns, the new stuff doesn’t mean anything” and “Hymns are out of date for today” – There are two sides to this one and I go back to keeping an open mind.
Contemporary: I have had people tell me the new stuff is just “fluff” and they don’t say anything. I agree that in some cases that is true. But in a lot of cases it just isn’t. Some of my favorite artists/groups are Casting Crowns, Mandisa, Nichole Nordeman, Natalie Grant and Chris Tomlin, just to name a few (there are others). My husband’s favorite is Third Day. When you listen to the lyrics of these artists, they are powerful. They are praising a great and mighty God, they talk about living through the struggles of life and surviving when we turn the the One that is in complete control. They give hope and encouragement and inspiration.
Hymns: I have heard people say they are old and don’t mean anything today. Completely FALSE! There are some amazing lyrics in the hymns of yesterday that touch me to the deepest of my core. One of those hymns is “It Is Well With My Soul”. What powerful meaning that song has. A man who lost his family in a tragic sea accident wrote these words: “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. What ever my lot thou has taught me to say, it is well with my soul.” Wow, what a comfort to know that no matter what we are going through, it is well with my soul. Some other favorites of mine (again, to name a few) are “What A Friend I Have in Jesus”, “When We All Get to Heaven”, “How Great the Fathers Love”, “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace”.
The bottom line: No matter what we are singing during praise and worship on Sunday morning, we are not singing for us. We are singing to God, the One we are thankful to, the One who gives us all things, the One who sent His Son, Jesus, to die for us so that we would be able to have eternal life. We are praising Him. So why do we get so caught up in what we are singing? A lot of churches have gone to a blended service, combining both types of worship songs. It’s not a bad route to go, but in the end, it still has to be about God.
I am on my praise team at church. I am certainly not the best singer out there, and sometimes I wonder why I am even on the team. I am there because God put it on my heart to be up there to lead others in one of the greatest ways to praise Him, to give everything we have to Him. The sad thing is when I look out to the congregation, they aren’t excited. They don’t look like people who are thankful to God. They look like a lot of congregations on Sunday morning.
Whatever you are singing, sing it with joy and praise and a grateful heart. Don’t get caught up in the type of song, or the instruments or what others are doing. People praise in their own way, but whatever way that is, make it alive. Jesus died for us!!! How powerful is that? Doesn’t He deserve your best, no matter what?
And one last thought: Don’t criticize your praise team or choir. They work hard to bring their best every week to lead you in that time of the service. Pray for them and encourage them. It is important.
Until next time, God bless,