I’ve heard people complain about how they find new worship styles so distasteful. For them, it seems unholy and does not in any way connect them to a holy God. After experiencing such a disappointing worship service, they walk out feeling like they haven’t worshiped at all. Have you heard this before? Ditto for younger persons who walk into a traditional service with 16–18th century hymns and all. We like to worship the way we’ve always worshiped because that’s how it’s always been done. When the worship commitee or pastor wants to implement a change, complaints then turn into chaos within the congregation. Is this why so many of our younger people have walked away from the church because they’ve become disinterested in less-meaningful worship? Maybe.
N. Graham Standish, a pastor and author who writes on revitalizing worship says:
“Many people have wanted a tangible, transforming encounter with God but have never found it in worship, because worship has been focused on everything but that transforming encounter.”
In either styles of worship, whether one has felt and experienced the holy and divine can vary between each individual. I do not wish to generalize and categorize anyone. Some can appreciate both styles but most can only appreciate either one or the other. What I have most commonly found is that the older generations tend to prefer the traditional forms, whereas, the younger tend to prefer newer forms because it’s there that either feel connected with the holy one. I guess I stand in between the old and young. Both are legitimate forms/styles but why do people from either side complain about the other? I think this is why we get into worship wars, e.g., traditional vs contemporary?
Our traditional forms of worship were at one point in time considered very contemporary. Today, the 2-3 century old forms of contemporary have become archaic to some younger generations. Unknowingly, traditional forms have moved from a spiritual approach to a functional approach that just maintains the status quo from centuries or decades past.
“In their attempt to hold onto what was, they neglect the experience of the Holy that anchored the previous generations’ worship. So they imitate the forms of worship that led people of the past to the Holy, while neglecting the holy passion that led to the creation of those forms. In effect, they just stop asking whether what they are doing is helping people to sense God’s presence in worship.” Full article from Alban…
In order to be a missional church, should we be constantly re-forming worship styles for each proceeding generation? If so, we may have to re-invent newer forms as each “contemporary” form becomes old. This may also mean that we will have to have separate churches and/or services for the newer and the older, thereby, losing our intergenerational connections. Is compromise possible?