I’m starting to pick up on a trend in the church these days. It seems that some people aren’t exactly enamored with contemporary forms of worship. Okay, there have always been people who thought contemporary worship was “of the devil”. Some folks believe that any music other than hymns are satanic and, if you want to carry it even further, the Primitive Baptists believe that musical accompaniment is evil. That’s not what I’m talking about. The people I have in mind are young, liberal-minded mainstreamers and emergents that feel contemporary worship lacks gravitas. The funny thing is, contemporary worship was started by young, liberal-minded people just like these guys.
Contemporary worship came out of the Jesus Movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s. I was around back then and, in those days worship meant hymns, organ music and liturgy. For a 10 year-old, it was, in a word, boring. And, I don’t mean regular boring, I’m talking shoot-me-in-the-head-and-end-this-misery boring (don’t forget, I’m a Methodist. We can make sex yawn-inducing). When I went to my first contemporary worship service, it was almost like a rock and roll show. There were all these cool, young people around singing songs like you might hear on the radio, no one wore a robe, and that boring old liturgy stuff was kept to minimum. In short, it was a breath of fresh air.
When I returned to the church a few years ago, I’ll admit that I exclusively attended the 11:00 traditional service for a couple of months. It’s what remembered as a kid and it was comfortable. After I got my feet back under me and felt a little more comfortable, I tried the earlier (8:30) service. It was contemporary-esqe and I liked it. I liked it so much that, since then, I’ve only attend the traditional service when I have to. Lately, the 8:30 contemporary-esqe service has become more like a real contemporary service. Contemporary Christian music (well, kinda contemporary), more of it and less liturgy. While I will admit I miss things like saying the Apostle’s Creed and I’m not a fan of the abbreviated Confession at the Communion, it’s still better than singing a bunch of dusty old hymns that have all the relevance of a Thomas Hardy novel.
The good thing about all this is that nobody is calling anyone else satanic, heretical or any of the other names that usually accompany change in the church. And, I think they’re on to something. In all our rush to be modern and such, we’ve lost the sense of mystery that prevades our faith. Some things just can’t be explained or modernized or anything else; you just have to accept that you don’t know and you’ll probably never know. It’s not easy, though. Fortunately, I can do that without having to sing “Onward Christian Soldiers”. I hate that song.