Forum: Arts / Religion

There Was a "Revolt" at Church!
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Aug 26, 2008 10:47 PM

One of the churches that we attend is the Church of the Nazarene, where my son plays drums in the youth worship band. So... the "revolt" happened at the "Naz" (which is what we have nicknamed the church). Anyway, the church is very small and has a mixed congregation of very old people and young families. The church has always been a hymn church. Traditionally, they have ONLY sung hymns except every couple of months the youth worship band would come in and play more contemporary music.

But recently a conflict was brought before the pastor. The young people didn't want to sing hymns anymore and the old people didn't want to sing contemporary ever. The senior pastor feels it is more important to reach/inspire the younger generation so the youth worship band leader was asked to lead the main worship every Sunday and over the last couple of months he basically transitioned the entire church from singing hymns to contemporary music. The younger families LOVED it, the older people HATED it. They hated it so much that they gave the senior pastor an ultimatum - change the music back or we will all leave the church. The senior pastor told them they were not going back to hymns.

So... all the old people left for good even though most of them had been going there for decades! They made up more than half the congregation!

Apparently the oldsters all go to the church across the street now. At first the Naz was so empty but apparently it is growing now that word has gotten out that the music is contemporary.

I don't know why it had to be ONE or the OTHER and not a mix of both. The youngsters should be exposed to the older music and the oldsters should be more flexible. What do you think?

12 Replies to There Was a "Revolt" at Church!

re: There Was a "Revolt" at Church!
By UberGoobermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Aug 26, 2008 11:53 PM
I can see both ways. Our church has had similar problems. I also don't see why it has to be so black and white or why a smoother transition couldn't have been made.

Anyway, even though many of the younger generation don't like hymns so much, I LOVE them. Certain hymns still give my chills...there's just something about them knowing that they have been sung for years and years and years.
re: There Was a "Revolt" at Church! (karma: 1)
By VelvetRagamuffinmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Aug 27, 2008 08:32 AM
I myself am partial to classical hymns. In terms of musicality and poetry, are we really going to try and compare "A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing" to "Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes yes Lord?" To me, it's the classic tale of Cain and Abel all over again. They both had good intentions, but Abel gave his best and Cain just gave whatever. As a result, God accepted Abel's offering over Cain's, Cain became jealous and then killed his brother.

It is an insult to God for these people whom he has gifted with the talent and passion of music to waste it on writing "songs" like "Marvelous Light" and others which glorify humanity's choices to pursue God rather than God's choices to allow us to pursue him in the first place. It is an insult to God for these people whom he has gifted with the talent and passion of music to waste it on writing "songs" which, instead of utilizing the full musical spectrum God has created, only need three guitar chords and a basic rhythm to be played. It is an insult to God for these people whom he has gifted with the talent and passion of music to waste it on writing "songs" which do not stretch us to our full potential, allowing us to wallow in mediocrity and never having to strive for anything, music being merely a symbol of Western Christianity where the focus is not "go ye, into the world" but rather "ask and ye shall receive."

That's what I see happening in these churches. The human desire for something "new" and "fresh" is trumping all of the history of church music. We're "trading our sorrows" and "trading our shame" for shameless decadence in our new church music.

Now, that being said, I do think that contemporary music has a place in *some* churches. However, don't the more *seasoned* members still deserve respect? Isn't the message behind that "respect your elders" and not "cave into the desires of youth?" I've always been under the impression that we tell youth "you get to run church how you want it when you're as old as us."

All that being said, is growth really a good thing? If the only thing keeping people out of church was music, what's going to happen when life throws a REAL roadblock in their way? If theologically profound hymns kept people away from God, why are the people coming to church now anyway? Are they coming to worship God and learn about Him, or are they merely looking for a free Sunday morning concert?
re: There Was a "Revolt" at Church!
By Peridotmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Aug 27, 2008 10:40 AM
^I see what you mean, Caleb. I really respect old hymns and that's what I grew up with, too. But I don't agree that contemporary music is an "insult" really. It's just different and for some people, it works. At Youth Group we sang contemporary songs and the band played, and it was fun and uniting. In church, we sang hymns. Both of them have a place in my heart.

D4j, does the church only have one service per Sunday? Some churches in my area have a 9:00 traditional service, and then an 11:00 contemporary service. Or the church could compromise and play a mix, like you said.

I agree, though. It sure is sad that so many members left. :(

~Dot
re: There Was a "Revolt" at Church!
By enlair89
On Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:45 PM
Deej, my home church went through the same thing when I was a teenager, only it was more of should we sing hymns as opposed to choruses. To a degree, they worked out a compromise. The morning service leaned more traditional, the evening more laid back. They're almost the same way now, but you'll hear hymns in the evening and contemporary music in the morning,now.

The one thing that bothers me, is the self-centeredness of it all, that unwillingness to budge. A worship service shouldn't be all about "me". That seems to be contrary to what Christ taught, That's what I see with an I'm just going to pack my bags and leave attitude. If a church is fortunate to have different age groups (I've pastored a church that had basically elder members), it should seek to minister to all age groups. A sign that a church is a healthy church that has all age groups.

And Caleb, I disagree about people wasting their musical talent. I go to a church now that plays contemporary-rock music during worship. We have tremendously talented musicians who clearly aren't wasting their talents and play extremely well. I love a lot of the old hymns, but some of the contemporary music that I've listened to are just as deep in theology as some of the hymns that I love. By the same token, there are some hymns that I've sung that aren't very deep at all.

To be honest, I think God cares less about the style of music we play and sing in worship as he does about what is in our hearts. If we're glorifying God with all our heart, soul and mind, I think He appreciates it whether or not it was written by Charles Wesley or Toby Mac.

I also think that it is equally important to have songs that minister to people who are in worship. I love "A Mighty Fortress is Our God", but how does one explain to a 14-year-old who rarely comes to church what "a bulwork never failing" or raising "an ebenezer" means?

I honestly believe there is no problem with churches taking a fresher approach. I don't see anything wrong with a church taking a more traditional approach, either.

The ironic thing is that more traditional forms of worship and songs were at one point "contemporary" themselves. Two of the men I admire most, Martin Luther and John Wesley, were men who were accused of being too contemporary for many of the church leaders in their days. Come to think of it, so was the Apostle Paul. People would be shocked to find out that some of the "traditional" hymns that they sing were actually adapted from old bar hymns.

And just remember this, Jesus didn't sing 18th century music, nor did he speak King James English!
re: There Was a "Revolt" at Church!
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Aug 27, 2008 12:54 PM
My boyfriend's mother's church has both Traditional and Contemporary services. I think that have four services on Sunday, alternating between each, and two services Friday, or something like that.

It's a very simple, easy compromise. I have no idea why everyone was throwing ultimatums around. There's good things about both styles, so why not use both? It's not like contemporary music isn't Christian. There's tons of 'Christian rock' groups out there now, and I have to say, they have some really gorgeous songs. I love hymns too - being a choir kid, you can't escape it, and they're gorgeous -but I would get tired of the same thing all the time. It will definitely draw a larger congregation to include both, or alternate between them.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to worship god in different ways, or liking different music, or wanting to use different music in worship. And enlair is right - Jesus was certainly not singing the hymns churches use or contemporary music!

In sum, no offense, but your senior pastor didn't make the best decision.
re: There Was a "Revolt" at Church!
By ConUnaSonrisamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Wed Aug 27, 2008 01:46 PM
At my church, this is how the music is laid out:

Saturday night 5:30pm mass - piano and one singer
Sunday morning 7:30am mass - piano and one singer
Sunday morning 9:30am mass - full choir and organ
Sunday afternoon 11:30am mass - full choir and organ
Sunday evening 5:30pm mass - AWESOME contemporary music :D

Our youth band is spectacular, especially our drummer. He goes at it so hard, you can feel it coming up from the ground into your feet! It's awesome; it really helps me get in the mood to praise God to the best of my ability.

I'm very sorry to hear your church couldn't find a compromise.
re: There Was a "Revolt" at Church!
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Aug 27, 2008 03:10 PM
Great posts everyone!

Yea, this is why the Naz isn't our home church (Calvary Chapel is) because there has been a lot of infighting and lack of compromise on a number of levels. There are lots of actions that they could have taken - but I do not feel the leading of the Holy Spirit in the leadership there and wasn't surprised to see it play out like it did. But my son still plays music at the Naz because despite my questions about the church and its pastor, the youth pastor there is very good and is very good with the teens.

Caleb, I see appreciate your points, especially about mediocrity and also your question about why we are going to church in the first place - to serve ourselves or to serve God?

We don't always offer God our best. Though I'm not sure He is as easily insulted as you describe. The Lord will accept an offering to Him even with our decrepit hearts because of Jesus. A simple three-chord song in an of itself is not automatically unacceptable - it can be acceptable or unacceptable based on the intent behind it.

But I did have to laugh at your mention of the line, "Yes, Lord, yes, Lord, yes, yes, yes." I can't stand that song - lol!

I myself have been equally moved by both hymns and contemporary music. There is a lot of really bad contemporary Christian worship music out there. But, for example, there are some worship songs by Hillsong that are so amazing that I just want to fall on my face before the Lord when I hear them. But I don't think they are amazing because they fulfill my personal and selfish requirements of what I want to hear but because the Holy Spirit radiates throughout the music and words. Same with hymns - some are musty and fusty, some are timeless and inspire awe in the Lord.


\o/
re: There Was a "Revolt" at Church!
By m_rc
On Wed Aug 27, 2008 06:07 PM
Edited by m_rc (162783) on 2008-08-27 18:12:33
Edited by m_rc (162783) on 2008-08-27 18:14:20
VelvetRagamuffin wrote:

I myself am partial to classical hymns. In terms of musicality and poetry, are we really going to try and compare "A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing; our helper he amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing" to "Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes yes Lord?" To me, it's the classic tale of Cain and Abel all over again. They both had good intentions, but Abel gave his best and Cain just gave whatever. As a result, God accepted Abel's offering over Cain's, Cain became jealous and then killed his brother.

It is an insult to God for these people whom he has gifted with the talent and passion of music to waste it on writing "songs" like "Marvelous Light" and others which glorify humanity's choices to pursue God rather than God's choices to allow us to pursue him in the first place. It is an insult to God for these people whom he has gifted with the talent and passion of music to waste it on writing "songs" which, instead of utilizing the full musical spectrum God has created, only need three guitar chords and a basic rhythm to be played. It is an insult to God for these people whom he has gifted with the talent and passion of music to waste it on writing "songs" which do not stretch us to our full potential, allowing us to wallow in mediocrity and never having to strive for anything, music being merely a symbol of Western Christianity where the focus is not "go ye, into the world" but rather "ask and ye shall receive."

That's what I see happening in these churches. The human desire for something "new" and "fresh" is trumping all of the history of church music. We're "trading our sorrows" and "trading our shame" for shameless decadence in our new church music.

Now, that being said, I do think that contemporary music has a place in *some* churches. However, don't the more *seasoned* members still deserve respect? Isn't the message behind that "respect your elders" and not "cave into the desires of youth?" I've always been under the impression that we tell youth "you get to run church how you want it when you're as old as us."

All that being said, is growth really a good thing? If the only thing keeping people out of church was music, what's going to happen when life throws a REAL roadblock in their way? If theologically profound hymns kept people away from God, why are the people coming to church now anyway? Are they coming to worship God and learn about Him, or are they merely looking for a free Sunday morning concert?


My, aren't you rather a conservative grumpy curmudgeon on this :O

[Cue professorly voice]


Caleb, all the hymns that you like--too were very new at one point. When they were new, they too were "pop" music....the current hymns you like-are a mere pittance of a shadow-of the great polyphony of (late) Renaissance masters such as Palestrina.

As a matter of fact, the hymn tradition you espose, grew out of the fact that the compositional skill of composers soon rivaled that of the listeners' ears--and the text became lost in the virtuousity.

At the Council of Trent (1545-1563) of which you may have heard ;) , this musicological topic was hotly debated. People complained that French song forms such as the French Chanson, were profane and verboten for church usage...however complicated polyphony made it impossible to understand the words, even with perfect pronounciation....musicians got accused of being careless in performances....The Pope himself, formally repreimanded the choir of St. Peters actually.....the final ruling, didn't really clarify anything...it merely banished from church anything "lascivious or impure". This set the stage for simpler motet style settings--and much further on, the even simpler hymn settings.

A chap, by the name of Palestrina, saved the complicated contrapuntal and polyphony of years prior...at least for a little while-he was never to be rivaled, and music moved on--as there was nowhere else to forward the tradition to atfer his work.

...thus the complex Renaissance polyphonic tradition was dropped--in favor (starting in Catholic...and then Lutheran services) of the motet form--and eventually the hymn form...where everyone could participate (not just the choir), and understand what was said, and the music was reduced to down drastically to (relatively) simple keyboard accompaniment.

(Of course I am greatly boiling down several hundred years of music history, across 5 major nation-states and gawd knows how many religious wars)

Another thing to bear in mind, is that MANY of the forms Bach and other people during the Baroque aware of the Italian musical traditions did-was SNEEK baroque dance forms into their music!!!! I use HTML markups here-because this is the equivalent of showing up in St. Peters wearing a tank-top/sagging jeans/and clogs. This, while VERY PROFANE, for the time--was done very gently and sneeklily--and listeners loved it: as they could relate these charming dance rhythms they all knew. But it was INCREDIBLY dangerous, as amatter of fact--most people who did this did NOT DARE title their compositions after the dance form name--they merely used tempo, or some other designation to keep the cardinals and higher-ups and conservatives happy. A horse, by any other name though, is STILL a horse. Now, though, all this cultural subtlety is lost on audiences though-as none of these forms are popular knowledge anymore.


Music is constantly moving Caleb--and that in and of itself is no reason to be grumpy. Religions are grounded in traditions, and more often than not-find themselves being the last bastions of things, for better or worse-things need to be kept relevant...and nowadays "hip" and "popular" to survive. I know, I'm a classical musician! ;)

Most popular music nowadays is, compositionally speaking, trash (to be blunt). People want it though, as they are increasinlgy ignorant of the roots of Western Tradition music--and they want simple Bar form repreise tunes, sung over 4 different chords. That is what they want....of course the cause of this--is an essay for another time.


The lesson of this lecture being, that your gripes are nothing new at all....and what that of which you complain has been going on for over 500 years.
re: There Was a "Revolt" at Church!
By Elfiemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Aug 30, 2008 03:30 AM
I don't think it's as much as a revolt as people leaving, because the church isn't supplying what they need. And the supply of tradition is something that is begining to be a rare commodity and something especially old people are used to getting from religion. I don't think it's even about a taste of music as much as it is about the dignity given to a religious service by tradition.
re: There Was a "Revolt" at Church!
By fairy_dustmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Sep 01, 2008 02:38 PM
I like lots of different music styles and each brings a different mood to the Mass/services/whatever. At the Catholic basilica I usually go to, there are several Sunday Masses at different times - some have an organist who plays hymns, others have contemporary Christian music (that's for the evening Mass - most young adults go to that one), and there used to be a choir too.

I remember going to World Youth Day in Germany in 2005 and there was something for everyone when it came to music, prayers, events, etc. One night I went to a very serious, somber, yet very touching Taize prayer service by candlelight (which gave me a real love for Taize), and other days I went to catechesis where contemporary Christian music was played and everyone did the wave (it was in a sports stadium).
re: There Was a "Revolt" at Church!
By MrsFinnigan
On Wed Sep 03, 2008 08:46 PM
I used to play in a contemporary (and I use the term rather loosely) Mass in my old parish. When you have to prayerfully select music that is appropriate for the Liturgical calendar, the subject of the readings, the subject of the homily, and appropriate for any other occasions (like a Baptism, for instance), I found that considerations like what kind of music the congregation likes best have to take a backseat.

That being said, we found the best way to keep the music "fresh" was to keep it diverse, which meant that we had to be well versed in a variety of styles. We frequently played old hymns in a variety of genres, and sometimes took contemporary standards out of their genre, too, as we found even contemporary can get monotonous if played the same way all the time.

And there's my favorite version of Amazing Grace, which begins slowly and solemnly, but by the last verse, the bass, banjo, mandolin, and the vocals in three more parts join the the melody and the guitar, the fiddler picks up the pace, and it turns into how I imagine heaven would sound if it has a bluegrass band.
re: There Was a "Revolt" at Church!
By twinkledancer08member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Sep 09, 2008 07:59 PM
My church back home was based off of the same conflict. We now have two services "Contemporary" and "Traditional" occuring at two different times with sunday school in between. It works really well.

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