How Righteous is Your Righteous Indignation? Part 1: Worship Wars

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How Righteous is Your Righteous Indignation? Part 1: Worship Wars

Recently Darcy and I were being interviewed on a national radio program regarding a book we wrote called Extreme Grandparenting: the ride of your life! In the process of discussing the strategic roles grandparents play in impacting the next generations we mentioned our biblical responsibility to stay relevant, connected and consistently focused on the spiritual best interests of those who follow us. The topic naturally lent itself to weigh in on the sad worship wars that are being fought in churches across the country. We spoke to this issue because these wars illustrate at the church level the myopic attitudes that often keep the older generation from continuing to play a positive spiritual role in those who follow behind us. Worship wars are a battle between two general styles of Christian music. One style represents the past and the other represents the future. In almost all of these conflicts, the older generation is resistant to adapt or defer to a worship sound that appeals to the musical tastes of the young families showing up on Sunday morning. This older generation wants the style of worship to remain like it was when they were young. Although the arguments are spiritualized and biblicized, it basically boils down to selfishness. Some could argue that it’s selfishness on both sides. But it’s really far more one-sided. The younger generation will ultimately leave a church formatted to the past or choose not to come in the first place. The older generation seldom chooses to find an older style (read: dying) church in which to finish out their days. They just stay where they are but refuse to participate with where the church is going. And their refusal to participate is generally accompanied by lots of anger, complaining, gossip and caustic letters and emails to leadership. On the radio program, I had made the argument that one of the ways we can carry out our four biblical roles as grandparents (which are: giving a blessing, leaving a legacy, bearing a torch for the gospel, and setting a mature moral standard) is to give up these selfish and moronic worship wars and assume a far more gracious position of encouraging our church leadership to format the Sunday worship experience to one that resonates with the next generation (like it did for us when we were young). The bottom line is that if we have been truly growing in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ over all these years, we should be the last people demanding the church stay formatted to our preferences when it comes to worship styles. We can listen to our music anytime we want to on our iPods or CDs. We should be enthusiastic about surrendering our personal (read: selfish) tastes in music for an hour on Sunday so that God’s greater Kingdom agenda of reaching and growing a new generation of Jesus followers can be realized. Apparently, my appeal to grace and love for the next generation didn’t bode well with some of the listeners. One let me know how disappointed they were in my position. Here is the exchange. I’d love to hear your opinion on it. Ticked off older emailer: Regarding your opinion on “worship wars,” I thought the church was to minister to the entire body, not one segment. Giving up music to “today’s sound” leads to ever-changing music which few in the congregation know, can, or will sing. It also tells the younger generation that they are indeed the center of the universe as they have been told for years. The world must kowtow to their preferences. I was greatly disappointed in your attitude. My response: The music you most enjoy hearing on Sunday morning was once “today’s sound” when you were young and bringing your kids to church. God used a style of music that resonated with your generation to draw you to Him as well as give you a familiar connection to His heart through worship. Music is and always has been “ever changing” as a reflection of the creative heart of the God we worship. Many of the songs you most love to sing today were once songs you didn’t know. They were introduced to you and you fell in love with them. So it shouldn’t surprise you that music is both ever changing and at times unfamiliar. If you make up your mind in advance that you are going to reject new songs of praise to God or new songs that put God’s Word to melody simply because they don’t align with your personal taste in music, then it sounds like you’re the one who wants to be the center of the universe in your church. Jesus came “to seek and to save those who were lost” (Luke 19:10). You and I already know Christ. We should be far more concerned about our church providing a connection to a new generation of lost people or young believers than trying to accommodate our taste in music. Jesus called us to be “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). The last time I checked, when you’re trying to catch fish, it’s best to put on your hook what the fish like to eat, not what you like to eat. We had our turn to have music that aligned with our tastes when we were young people bringing our families to church. It’s not our turn any more. And I for one am not going to hold my church hostage to the past and hamstring its ability to reach the next generation. I’m formatting my “attitude” (which you find “greatly disappointing”) from the advice we’re given by the Apostle Paul who said, “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23) Honestly and graciously, Tim Kimmel

We want to hear from you!!!

So, what is your take on this issue and this exchange between me and the irate emailer?

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