Contemporary vs. Traditional: The Worship Wars

(Guest Contributor: Warren Kelly)

I often find myself sitting on the fence during the Worship Wars(tm). I love loud music. I like loud, distorted guitar solos. I like to rock out on occasion — often enough that I frequently embarrass my daughter (hey, I’m just doing my job, there).

But I also really enjoy the whole “high church” worship experience. If I heard most of the music in my iTunes library done in church, I’d probably feel a bit uncomfortable. I don’t find anything wrong with it, it’s just not me.

That’s why different churches have different worship styles. The differences don’t matter enough that we should condemn each other for them, but they ARE different enough that they can interfere with our worship experience. I’ve always thought that we should let people worship with the music that they are comfortable with — as long as the teaching in their church is Biblical, there’s no problem there.

I read a couple letters recently at the Vintage Faith blog on this topic that were interesting to me:

I am no music scholar, but I feel I know appropriate church music when I hear it. Last Sunday’s new hymn – if you can call it that – sounded like a sentimental love ballad one would expect to hear crooned in a saloon. If you insist on exposing us to rubbish like this – in God’s house! – don’t be surprised if many of the faithful look for a new place to worship. The hymns we grew up with are all we need.

That letter sounds familiar to anyone who is trying to balance contemporary and traditional worship styles. In fact, there are probably a few worship leaders who think they actually GOT that letter not long ago.

That letter was written in ’63. 1863. And the name of the hymn that the folks were complaining about is “Just As I Am.” The Worship Wars(tm) have been going on a lot longer than we think, and will continue long after we’re dead. Our grandchildren will probably complain about the new songs in church — “Why can’t we sing more old classics like ‘Lord I Lift Your Name On High’? What’s wrong with the good, old-fashioned hymns that our grandparents sang?”

We need to realize what is a personal preference and what isn’t, and stop getting so wrapped up in our personal preferences.

About Dr. Mike Harmon

Dr. Harmon began preaching at the age of 15 while living in southern California. He has conducted over 600 revivals and evangelistic campaigns nationwide, and has served as Senior Pastor at seven churches. Dr. Harmon has degrees from Central Baptist College, the University of Central Arkansas, and a Ph.D. From the Christian Bible College and Seminary. He has served as trustee for Southeastern Baptist College and Chairman of the trustees for the BMA Theological Seminary. He also served as Chaplain for the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Arkansas State Police and the Arkansas State Senate. His many sermons and articles on Christian Apologetics are widely published. He is married to one wife of 43 years; has two sons, and seven grandchildren. He considers the simple pleasures of cooking, dining with family and friends, and liesurely rides on his Harley through the Texas Hill Country to be some of the most enjoyable blessings from the Lord.
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