A Crack in the Unity of Worship

Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)

There are a number of articles on the Worldview Church Worship Arts page that have been written on the topic of unity, and how important it is to show unity within the worship of the church. There are articles that give a biblical perspective on the subject in general, like: Unity: A Key Ingredient of Worship. Others consider the truth of unity in the midst of diversity, such as: Uniquely You: Worshiping in Your Giftedness. Still others address the need to plan for unity within our worship: One Worship Design: Variety, Spontaneity, Familiarity.

In the midst of these articles, I’d like to insert one that is something of a warning, or at least a cause for reflection in the midst of our weekly gatherings of worship. My thoughts on this subject began when my wife and I, along with two of our children, spent a morning in a local nursing home for Sunday worship. We were asked to come and lead worship which included singing, reading Scripture, prayer and a short sermon.

This, in fact, was a church. The residents and one of the Administrators began this regular church service when the facility first opened several years ago. Although they come from many Christian backgrounds and denominations, many of them now consider this “their” church and serve as ushers, greeters, and in other ways. They treat is as their church home.

The music we planned for the morning was familiar – at least to those in attendance. There may be many sitting in pews of churches today would not have known the songs or the melodies that we sang. In fact, our own children had only a faint recollection of these songs, having not heard them in our own church within recent memory. These songs were hymns. We sang them in the traditional style, with piano accompaniment, and at traditional tempos. There was no hip, new chorus added or a re-arrangement to make it more contemporary. No drums, flashing lights, smoke, background singers, PowerPoint, guitar, etc. Just singing hymns with the piano.

It seems to me that as these traditional songs fall into disuse, it is an unfortunate demonstration of disunity within the walls of the modern church. We have raced toward the modern, contemporary worship style and all but abandoned the heritage of our hymnody. Interestingly enough, I have discovered that the older generation is much more open to modern musical styles than the younger generation is to traditional styles. Without much effort one can hear complaining from the younger crowd that hymns are no longer relevant and that we must offer modern style to a modern world.

While there are some that do their share of complaining, my own experience is that older saints they are much more willing to adapt. This shows a great deal of character on behalf of these older men and women. They are patient and expectant, hoping to see God’s Spirit move. They desire to see their children and grandchildren engaged in, and engaged by, worship and the Word of God. It’s important for them to see the faith pass from one generation to the next.

While at the same time, they are left with no continuity to their own Christian past. They willingly step aside as younger leaders and musicians (though not particularly wise) abandon the heritage of the faith for what seem to be exciting, flashy and “relevant.” Certainly being relevant is not to be avoided, but when it’s at the expense of history, clear Christian doctrine, and a solid development of the Christian mind, we have gone astray.

As we continue to see modern entertainment overtake the worship of the church, we will continue to experience the fragmentation caused by this kind of disunity. Our older saints have much to offer, but they are often sidelined and dismissed in lieu of the modern and the supposedly “relevant” new way of doing things. What are we losing when this happens? What richness of experience? What wisdom? Are we losing the fullness of unity that could be experienced if we were more holistic in our approach to worship?


(Original Post on July 14, 2014 at the Worldview Church: http://www.worldviewchurch.org/worshiparts/articles/22040-a-crack-in-the-unity-of-worship)


Posted on August 4, 2014, in Christian Worldview, Content of Worship, Corporate Worship, Leadership, theology, Worship Leader and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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