Worship and Music

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Passionately Pursing our God in Music and Worship
Music is of God’s creation and an integral part of our lives, yet much of the current experience is one of the most emotionally charged and divisive issues facing the Christian Church, families, and individuals in America today. Pastors, worship leaders, trained musicians, and believers in general face new and powerful forces of change - forces that bring renewal to some churches and fear and schism to others. No one can sidestep the hot debate between such matters as the various styles of music, hymns versus choruses, seeker services versus worship services, choirs versus worship teams, organs versus synthesizers, and flowing praise versus singing one song at a time. With billions of Christians across the world and hundreds of denominations, there is certain to be variations in church worship styles. In this paper, I will introduce and address the most common church worship styles, and then, I will discuss what our response should be to corporate worship. Traditional church worship style speaks for itself – it is largely based on traditional methods of worship using classical hymns and choruses with no affiliation with contemporary Christian music. Traditional church worship styles are based on traditions and beliefs that stretch back to the beginnings of Christianity which can make it seem more authentic to some. Traditional hymns can often have profound and meaningful histories that many Christians feel a greater connection to than much contemporary Christian worship styles. Music played at traditional church services are typically based around classical hymns by composers such as Handel, Mozart and Bach. There is often an organ, choir, and a piano to provide the music accompaniment (Pinson). In recent years contemporary church worship style has taken over from traditional styles as churches begin to realize the need to appeal more to a modern generation. During contemporary church worship, the songs sung may be in a contemporary Christian music style such as rock, pop, rap or country. Often they will have a Christian band using modern instruments such as drum kits and electric guitars. The Christian message is not lost in the contemporary style; however, it is just expressed in a more modern and aesthetically appealing way to some. Contemporary church worship services can be great fun and many are very lively and exciting with great music and a fun-loving atmosphere amongst the congregation. While traditional church worship styles are very scripted and ritualistic, contemporary Christian worship styles are much more laid back and there is much more freedom for expression during the services. Contemporary Christian worship services often have current popular songs as part of their hymn singing – particularly those that are currently in the Christian Billboards charts. This has helped keep the church alive among the younger generation (Pinson). Blended church worship styles try and make a balanced mix between contemporary and traditional by incorporating elements of both into the service. This is often a good way to bring members of all generations together in one congregation rather than separating the old and the young between contemporary and traditional worship style services. Culture dictates worship and practice in emerging church styles. This is seen in the fact that the emerging church relies upon incense, art, images, and experiences to draw near to God and to worship Him. God says to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), but the emerging church finds ways other than what is described in the Bible to worship God. Worship consists of praising God through words and phrases that form coherent thoughts and propositions. It is not an emptying of the mind or any kind of mysticism. Yet the emerging church is a breeding ground of contemplative spirituality. Some use labyrinths to draw near to God. Others marvel at pictures that they paint.  Others...
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