Wednesday is my meeting day. I have five schedule meetings, and then in the evenings I take my boys to Kids’ Clubs. While it can be a grind, it’s nice to knock out a majority of my meetings in one day.

One of my Wednesday meetings deals with Access/Online services. Ryan Shields, Travis Williams and I review the previous Sunday services, and go over upcoming services. We approach it from different perspectives, and it’s been fun for me to hear their takes on worship, church, the gospel and more.

Yesterday, we were discussing a classic hymn, and listening to a modern version of it. I dismissed it. The arrangement was well-done, and it was performed with excellence. I dismissed it because it wasn’t what I was used to with the song. I said that in the meeting, and we discussed whether people would join in with the song.

After I left the meeting, I thought some more about my reasoning. I realized that it could be synonymous with those who don’t like any change at church. This is a tension the church always faces. From wearing jeans to church, having drums in the band, how one does communion, any kind of change can be a cause for uproar.

Who knows, perhaps this modern rendition of a hymn will draw someone closer to Jesus because they like the style of it. I know I like different renditions of classic hymns that draw me into the lyrics and story of the song.

Many classic hymns were once scandalous because they were based off of “secular” songs. It’s been said that the music for Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” was based off of a popular drinking song’s tune.

Now, should one take into account how a song might be received because the style is different than what is known? Of course, but that shouldn’t be the sole factor. What is God saying, and doing, with it? Who are you trying to minister to, reach, and serve with the service? Perhaps the new rendition will draw people into the church who don’t like the usual music.

It’s all about Jesus, not my preference for comfort in a worship service.

I think it is good to honor tradition, and to utilize varying styles with worship services. I’m glad there are a multitude of ways to worship Jesus. It’s good to know church history and see how it applies to us today. Tradition should not be the guiding factor, though. It makes me sad when I hear churches split over non-essential issues. We’ve all heard examples.

I’m 36, and as I get older I realize this will be something I’ll probably run into more and more. Some of the little stuff I enjoy about church services now, wearing jeans to services and drinking coffee, was/is scandalous to the generation before me. (Oh yeah, I’m an Online Campus Pastor!) There will be stuff I enjoy now about worship services that will be passé in a few years. I’m sure in twenty years there will be some kid who thinks the way I prefer to worship is ridiculous and out-of-step. Right on. I hope I can smile when I hear that. (And not telling him the proverbial, “Get off my lawn!”) I hope my generation is about reaching, serving and loving the upcoming generations for Jesus.

I don’t want to turn into a curmudgeon toward worship services. I will always have my preferences when it comes to style of music, and the culture and vibe of a service. Nevertheless, I want to be all about Jesus.

In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libertas, in omnibus caritas (unity in necessary things; liberty in doubtful things; charity in all things) –St. Augustine of Hippo

One thought on “When Modern Becomes Tradition

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