Is Contemporary Christian Worship
Full of Wannabe Rock Stars?
I was bothered recently by a radio evangelist who spent a good part of an hour sermon bashing contemporary Christian praise bands.
He said churches are more concerned about catering to Christian rock stars and concert-type services than preaching the word of God. I have been faced with this rift within the church for many years. I rescinded my membership from too many online forums that directly address worship music because of the constant anger I receive from many of the more traditional service members.
I cannot speak for all people and churches. However, every church I’ve ever played, without exception, has NEVER watered down their sermons, and they have always demanded quality music.
We’ve all witnessed the train wreck of endless wanna-be rock stars auditioning for American Idol. Bad singers who think they’re superstars make for great TV entertainment. Bad singers before a congregation makes for a bad worship service. Prior to starting Rocking God’s House, I attended many churches to evaluate Christian music. Most of them offered terrible music, bad production, and were therefore…poorly attended. Those offering quality music were often well attending and growing in attendance.
The constant barrage of anger and attitude toward contemporary Christian music from so many narrowly focused music directors bothers me. I am the director of a church with a small, yet growing congregation. The music is K-Love based and edgy. We have an experienced sound person, a decent but small lighting system, and we work hard on song production and arrangement. I am blessed to belong to a church with mixed congregations that all support each other and our single mission of bringing people to Christ.
The radio pastor called all contemporary services rock star productions that do not honor God but our own egos. He said we cater to those wanting a high quality concert, and that we honor the music more than the message. He stated that most of the pastors water down their sermons to cater to a faith-fickle congregation. He pointed out one pastor who actually had a beer at the pulpit.
My philosophy: play skillfully, praise our Lord with skillful music, offer Bible-based sermons, and those who are drawn to this will attend. My current church has four services: two are traditional, one is scaled down contemporary worship, and one is contemporary with full production. I don’t care which service a new or existing church member attends. What’s important is that the music speaks to their heart and allows them to worship and find the grace and peace of Christ.
Many of these angry directors I’ve encounter often claim that only a traditional service or worship-based songs offer true praise. Furthermore, many believe if the congregation does not or cannot sing along, they are not truly praising God. Worship is personal.
I have witnessed several churches that are of the state of mind that services should remain faithful to only organ based or piano-based services with choirs, not bands playing modern instruments. Many fail to remember that Beethoven and Bach were considered radicals for their time. King David said make a joyful noise. Joyful noise is subjective according to time and place.
To be clear: I do not agree with and would not support a pastor drinking a beer during service. I simply feel strongly about production and sound. If it were not for contemporary Christian music I would never have stepped back into church. It was God working through contemporary music that saved me as a Christian, touched my soul, and changed my life.
This topic causes unnecessary division among churches, especially worship leaders. Don’t judge the musical style; judge the lyrics, the message, and heart of a church.
We should not fall into the trap of appeasing one ethnic, age, or social group. Ignoring ANY musical style is a tradeoff of one group for another. Also, the size of those attracted by any Christian musical style should not be judged.
Give glory to God with song! Whether you are attending a service using a choir and organ or rocking God’s house with edgy guitar: praise God, seek the Holy Spirit, and enjoy your interpretation of a joyful noise.