Reaching out to different generations
Doug Heacock, contemporary worship leader, Lawrence Free Methodist Church, 3001 Lawrence Ave.:
Most Christians would agree that music is a vital part of worship - music can evoke emotional responses and aid us in the expression of our devotion to God, our dependence on him, our hurts and joys, our remorse and our gratitude. It can also be a tool for communicating our theology or expressing biblical truth. Twenty or 30 years ago, the question of whether a certain musical style was appropriate in worship was hotly debated, because many Christians associated certain musical styles with lifestyles that they believed to be inconsistent with their faith.
Although it seems to have taken a long time, most churches today recognize that while the truths that unite us are timeless, we are more effective in reaching new generations when we communicate in the "language" of those generations. This is reflected not only in the music we use in worship, but also in new translations of the Bible, and even in the mediums and methods we use to present the truths of our faith.
"Anchored to the Rock, geared to the times" was a slogan for the Youth for Christ movement in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and it seems particularly relevant for the church today. I fully expect that the contemporary worship music I play in my church will one day have to give way to new styles, if our church is to continue to reach out to a new generation.
Rock, hip-hop, jazz, country and western, acoustic folk, urban contemporary and traditional hymns all have a place in churches today as vehicles for the timeless truth of the gospel of Christ.
- Send e-mail to Doug Heacock at email@example.com.
Speaking to your specific audience
The Rev. Tom Brady, senior pastor, First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt. and 867 Highway 40:
Yes, rock music has a place in the church. There are a wide variety of musical preferences. We don't all listen to the same radio stations, nor do we purchase the same CDs. When I walk into any Best Buy, Wal-Mart or music store, I'm amazed at all the different options. What appeals to one person may not appeal to another.
It's not reasonable for the church to assume that everyone will be touched by one kind of music. It's important for the church to offer a variety of music styles in order to appeal to a broader audience. Certainly, rock music has its place in the church and can touch the hearts of those who prefer that style of music over more traditional styles.
Similarly, preaching and teaching styles can be varied in order to reach a specific audience. Although the content might be the same, I would take a different approach in preaching to and teaching students than I would with senior adults. In music the lyrics can remain the same, but a different music style can be used. In other words, a traditional hymn like "Amazing Grace" can be played and sung in rock without changing the words.
Music is a huge part of our culture and shapes the feelings, attitudes, thoughts and beliefs of everyone. Jesus accepted the culture in which he lived, tried to change certain aspects of it, and used it to help shape the beliefs of the people he was trying to reach. The church needs to do the same.
- Send e-mail to Tom Brady at firstname.lastname@example.org.