Tuesday, May 30, 2006

On the Worship Wars (Warning: Rant Ahead)

Community of Grace Cantor, Dan Adolphson.

If there is something that can get my dander up, it's the ongoing wars between those who like a more traditional style of worship and those who like a more contemporary (read: praise music) style. I grew up as an evangelical whose worship included a lot of praise music. As I grew older, I started to appreciate and savor more traditional styles, especially the high church worship. When I head back to my hometown of Flint, Michigan to visit my parents, you will see this kid who was raised in low churches, going to the St. Paul's Episcopal Church in downtown Flint to get some good ole Anglican worship.

I enjoy and prefer more traditional worship, but I've learned to respect the more contemporary styles as well.

So, what bugs me is how some people tend to view the other style with disdain and even in some instances question people's faith.

What got me ticked off was a website I was viewing. The website belonged to a new church start belonging to a major mainline Protestant denomination. I was reading one of those "get to know the pastor" page and at the end of his bio, he made some off the cuff remark about liking high church and not liking praise music. To be more exact, he said called praise music pseudo-ethusiastic and then said it was intolerable.

Hmm. That's a good way to bring people to your church.

Frankly, I don't see understand that. You don't have to like praise music. I don't like all of it. But the fact is, there are many people who do like it and it allows them to worship God. It might have been that a certain one of those "intolerable" songs may have got someone off drugs, or helped them see God in a new way, I don't know. What I do know is that you or I can say that's not our preference, but we sure as hell should never say it's intolerable.

I don't think God gives a rat's ass how we worship. I don't think God cares if we have a service complete with an organ bigger than Jesus, or with a praise band. What matters to God is that we come together to remember the One who has given us life, life abundant, and then go out and bring God's message of love and shalom to a world that sorely needs it.

If God doesn't care, then why the hell should we? If someone wants to sing "Great is the Lord", then let it rip. If they want all the smells and bells, then more power to ya. But don't get into this silly pissing match of which worship is more holy. God doesn't give a damn.

Listen, what matters is that the worship we do mirrors the lives we try to lead. In the Bible God gets angry at those who worship and yet treat the poor with disdain. I didn't see anywhere we God is angry because a church chose to sing "Open My Eyes, Lord."

At times like these, I am thankful for Community of Grace's cantor, Dan Adolphson. He also comes from an evangelical background, but is trying to get people to accept blended worship. Dan is musically trained and can go from Michael W. Smith to Bach like no one's business. He did a wonderful rendition of Sandi Patty's "Was it Morning Like This" on Easter that was beautiful. It sure as hell wasn't intolerable.

So, to those who get in a snit about contemporary or traditional worship, I have to say this: please get a life. I think God has more important things to deal with and so should you.

1 comment:

Ed Darrell said...

The issue is what sort of music one is comfortable with, it seems to me. People will like almost any music that others around them will sing with enthusiasm, or music which is well performed in almost any genre, but the more live, the better.

I find a lot of modern, "praise" music difficult to sing along with if one doesn't know the hit version, and a bit overly repetitive. I find a lot of "traditional" stuff long on theology. At the moment, I prefer the theology.

The skill of getting others to sing along is not the same as the skill of performing.

Good luck striking the balance!