Music in Worship Services: Divisiveness of Worship Music?
In part 3, as I was considering the genres of music used in worship services, I an idea occurred to me. This may be a bit tangential to our discussion, but it’s certainly related.
It’s been said that Sunday morning (when people go to church) is the most segregated time of the week in America. I suspect many of us have a hunch this isn’t a good thing but have little idea why or what to do about it. I believe the main reason for this is that people are looking for something which matches their own culture. Preaching style and theology reflect culture to a certain degree, but I think music is the most obvious and central piece of culture in most protestant worship services.
This doesn’t just divide along racial lines. In the late nineties and early two-thousands, there was a phenomenon which has been referred to as the “worship wars”. At this time many churches felt pressure to jump on board the “contemporary” praise music bandwagon. This created a lot of division and conflict in churches. Many people were passionately in favor and many others quite opposed. The church I’m involved with locally is going through something similar at present. I happen to think it’s rather unfortunate that people are so upset about some relatively small changes to something as insignificant as a Sunday service. (After all, how much time does the new testament spend talking about Sunday services?)
So it occurred to me to wonder if our approach to worship music is devisive. I don’t know exactly what the answer to this is, but the first step is recognizing it as a problem at all. As mentioned, most churches cater the the majority culture in their area. It seems like that alienates a lot of other people though. What do we do? Have a “blended” worship style? Throw in a different genre every once in a while? Have different music for different groups of people? What do you think?
In reality, this highlights just one reason I don’t believe in the traditional model for doing church. Nevertheless, there are still many people engaged in this form of church, and they should wrestle with these questions.
In part 5 (and probably my last part to this mini-series), I’ll talk a bit about sermons.