Every weekend across this great nation, and throughout the world, people gather in various forms and fashions to praise the Almighty God, the Great I Am. In some contexts, voices are the only type of instrument that one can experiencein other contexts, there is a 20-piece band on stage with four or five vocalists. In any context including and between these two “extremes,” there exists a tension that some overlook; others handle with astute awareness and then there may be those who are just downright terrible in maintaining. The tension exists in every church, in every context to some degree. It is the Old vs. the New. For the specific manifestation here, I will call it the Modern vs. Post-modern thought.
The easiest way to go about setting the stage for the ongoing discussion in this portion of the Church Collective is to give personality to our “schools” of thought. I’ll use the human form of a man only because I am one and understand men a little more than I do ladies.
The Modern thought process could possibly be described as your grandfather, and not in a negative way. He’s a tough, well seasoned man that has cared for his family through just about everything that life can throw at him. He was probably born soon after World War II (look it up, it’s kind of a big deal) and graduated college sometime in the 60’s or 70’s, maybe even the early 80’s, if ever attending college. He may even be the Senior Minister. The way this man goes about his business and the way he thinks about his church are very distinct. There is no time or tolerance for “funny business.” “The gospel has stayed the same for thousands of years. So why does the church need to change how it handles the teaching of the Bible and the way it interacts with culture?” This man says. For him, worship is something that brings with it memories of childhood church attendance with family members. His grandmother’s favorite hymn, the VBS program that led him to Jesus, or the “teen” overnighter where he finally connected the Jesus in his head to the Jesus in his heart. Worship by and large is something that is cerebral, it may be emotional for this man, but good look on finding anything emotive about his worship experience. For the most part, he doesn’t understand why the church needs a “concert” and new songs to sing about Jesus. Hymns have been around hundreds of years. He is genuine in his worship and desires the “younger crowd” to find his deep and abiding love for Jesus. There is the tension.
Our Post-modern thought process could be described as that young guy that has a good voice and can play guitar. He may wear skinny jeans and a deep V-neck with a scarf around his neck. He’s probably fresh out of high school or college. He’s definitely not in his 30’s. (We all know that your 30’s are where Worship guys go to die, SMH). He’s young, idealistic, energetic and knows “what worship truly is.” For our post-modern guy, it’s all about the heart of the matter. Who cares if the song is sing-able or familiar to his congregation’s context. It’s powerful and he likes the way it sounds, it also doesn’t hurt that he can do cool things with his Strymon’s during the song. Worship is about an experience to this guy. It’s not uncommon for him to walk off the platform with tears streaming down his face from worship. Worship is deeply personal and intense. He has no fear of showing emotion during his worship experience, in fact, if he didn’t show emotion during worship, he would feel like he was being fake and not leading from an authentic place. He has no desire to put on concert or a show, he is genuine in his presentation of what is happening within him during the worship set. He has a strong desire to show no disrespect for the traditions of the church, he just sees his friends and some of his family walking away from church calling it “archaic.” There is the tension.
So, how do these two guys get along? Both have tension within themselves, and others, for the ongoing church life. And these tensions have led to what have been called the “worship wars.” For at least the short term, though, these tensions aren’t going anywhere. Therein lies the difficulty, and beauty, of a multi-generational church learning to live in the culture we face. And each context is different. How would one enlighten Modern and post-modern so that both could come together as one team? That’s what this on-going conversation will attempt to convey.
We’ll spend moments inside the Monday morning meeting these two gentlemen have as they discuss the weekend services.