By and large a church’s expression in worship (song, art, prayer, etc) will tend to be monolithic. It has been established by the founding generation who see no reason to change things, and say “wrong if you think otherwise”. Perhaps the style of the church is controlled by a new generation who came, conquered, and put the old ones adrift on an ice berg.
Neither of these are good scenarios.
I’m a father. Admittedly I’m a new father but I’m well aware of one of the great callings ahead of me. I need to prepare my son for the life ahead of him. I need to show him my faith in Jesus, pray he finds his own faith, and when he does, its my job to encourage him and model for him how to serve God and love people.
The church is a family. It is responsible for the next generation of its family the same way I’m responsible for the next generation of my family. Titus 2:4 exhourts the older women to ‘likewise… encourage the younger women’. The likewise indicates that the older men mentioned in earlier verses have a similar calling with the young men. The point is that the church is the family of God, and we have a responsibility towards the future generations of our family.
1 Timothy tells younger men “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father”. The bible also tells young men and women to honor their fathers and their mothers. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that an application can be made from our real parents to those older generations in the church.
The truth is that in the worship wars we younger worship leaders are often in the wrong. There is nothing, not one thing, biblical about the iceberg we throw our elders on. We are to honor them. It doesn’t matter how good our motives are, if we fail to follow our biblical commands to honor, how can we stand for the biblical examples of creativity in worship expression?
Who Blinks First?
In a game of chicken that’s always the question. Who blinks first?
Children: Honor your father and mother. Fathers: Do not provoke your children to wrath (Ephesians 6:4).
There are too many provoked children in the church today. Even worse, too many of the next generation who have had a “failure to launch”. Ever seen an 18 year old girl doing old hippie Maranatha songs or a 22 year old man who thinks we just need to get back to the good old days with the Gaithers? I have and it’s the worship equivalent of the 40 year old living in their parents bedroom. But nowhere does that excuse the young worship leaders who treat those who have gone before with contempt and disdain.
Who blinks first? In an ideal world both sides would. In the real world it’s the job of the old to train the young.
How To Blink
I titled this post “Monoliths”, the word that describes mountains made of one single feature.
Too many churches are monolithic in their approach. I understand that baptists won’t become pentecostals or visa versa, but a mountain can have more than one peak. Due east from my house you can see a mountain called “Big 4” which as you might have guessed is a single mountain with 4 peaks. To the north is Three Fingers (guess how many peaks it has). One mountain, multiple peaks.
We can share the same basic principles without splitting the church in two. The church I serve at is divided pretty much 50/50 old and young. There is no choice, we have to find a way to live together as a family. We have to move past the idea that the music will be the same every Sunday. Some Sundays it’s really hard for me to connect with what’s going on (and I’m the music director) but the person next to me is enraptured. They’ll have a hard time the next week when the music is geared towards their kids.
Jesus will and must be worshiped. But worship is more than just singing some songs. Isn’t Jesus worshiped when an older pastor encourages a younger worship leader. Isn’t Jesus worshiped when a younger worship leader does older songs that he doesn’t like because he knows it will serve part of his church family? Isn’t Jesus worshipped when we submit one to another in non-essential issues of style and expression?
One church, several peaks, built on the rock of our confession of faith in Jesus Christ.