Our church sits on a corner. To the north are several retirement communities and to the south are expanding neighborhoods bursting with young families. One of our church’s key values is to be relevant; but how can a church be relevant to such a diverse community? When I began here we were planning two services: classic and contemporary, each with different worship styles designed to lead worship in this multi-generational setting. Over time we realized that both groups desired certain elements from the other style. There were 70-year-olds requesting choruses and 30-year-olds requesting hymns… and we wonder why so many worship leaders are bald? So how do we as worship leaders ensure that, “one generation will commend [the works of God] to another; and… tell of [His] mighty acts” (Psalms 145:4)? The pastoral staff agreed to transition to a singular style of worship that focused on God-Honoring-Worship.
It’s about the person
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
The litmus test when choosing hymns, modern songs, or spoken word is to determine if it is focused on God and bringing him glory. We know it is difficult to please people, but when we turned our attention to pleasing God everything else faded away. Our multi-generational congregation no longer focuses on their differences but on a “deep longing… to know God and be in His presence” (Dan Dozier, O Come Let Us Adore Him).
It’s about the passion
Ephesians 4:1-3… live a life worthy of the calling you have received, be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit… one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
As Worship Leaders our job (and the jobs of anyone on stage or running A/V) is to know God and make him known. At our church, the priority is for the team to authentically worship which leads to repentance and being on mission for God (Isaiah 6:1-9). When we stopped trying to meet everyone’s preferences, our multi-generational congregation became unified in their passion to worship.
It’s about the presentation
II Chronicles 34:12 The men did the work faithfully… all who were skilled in playing musical instruments…
When we moved to a singular style of worship, our Pastor, Jackie Allen, emphasized the importance of excellence. The song choice is not as important as the presentation of the song, whether singing a song straight from the Psalms or right off the radio it must be done with excellence. Then the focus shifts from the music to the message.
Worship style has the ability to divide the church or unify the church. Jesus prayed for unity among believers so that God would be made famous (John 17:20-21). Whether in a rural community, inner-city, or suburban church, it is important to know your demographic in order to be relevant, but most importantly, remember that an authentic God-Honoring-Worship is attractive to any generation.