If you are in a church that is in the midst of worship wars, this article may seem to be built on an unlikely premise. If your church has experienced worship wars in the recent past, you too may question my sanity at even suggesting such a thesis.
For decades, church members have been fighting, splitting and lamenting the state of music in our worship services. But when it’s all said and done, it’s largely about preferences. And no issue seems to bring out the worst in us as our preferred music style.
Many worship leaders should get hazard pay.
While I’m not crazy enough to predict the total cessation of worship wars, I am willing to say that they will be ending in many churches. Here are three reasons why:
1. Fewer churches with different services with different styles. Though this observation is anecdotal, my travels to churches across the United States the past several years bear out this factor. Some worship wars were put on a tenuous hold by offering different styles at different times. In some churches the approach was successful. In other churches, it created a culture of us versus them.
I have heard from many church leaders that they have successfully brought the factions together with one style of worship. I think you will be seeing less of two styles in one church in the years ahead.
2. Resurgence of hymnody. Led by the gifted Keith and Kristyn Getty, churches are awakening to a renewed delight of hymns, particularly modern hymns such as “In Christ Alone,” “The Power of the Cross,” and “Speak O Lord.” This hymnody is bringing together multiple generations and those who prefer diverse music styles.
Modern hymnody has become a great unifier in many churches. Its influence will continue to grow.
3. Unifying of the boomers and the millennials. These two generations really seem to get along. The research that Jess Rainer and I did on the Millennials confirmed our speculation. There is a mutual trust and respect between these two large groups. They just seem to like each other.
Keep in mind the age differences here. The boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. The millennials were born between 1980 and 2000. On the average, there is a 30-year difference in the ages of individual members of the two generations.
But they desire to be together and spend time together. The Christians of these generations desire to worship together. It’s already fascinating to see worship styles meld as boomers and millennials come together. Admittedly, it’s still a strong contemporary style, but the boomers introduced secular culture to rock. Boomer Christians were among the first to embrace a more contemporary style of Christian music.
So much time and energy have been wasted by Christians fighting over something that is a matter of style and preference. Anger, bitterness and church splits are the results of these worship wars.
I am hopeful, for the three reasons noted, that we will have fewer and fewer worship wars. I am hopeful we can worry less about our own preferences and more about the unity of the body of Christ. Jesus Himself said in John 13:35, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
“Love for one another” means we will put others before ourselves—even in music and worship preferences.
Maybe, just maybe, the worship wars will fade away.
Thom S. Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.