I have spent my entire life in the church. What I mean is that as the son of a pastor and now a pastor myself, I don’t know any other way of life than as a believer in Jesus. In my time being a part of the church and now working as a leader within the church I have been a part of many interesting conversations. One of the most provocative has always been around worship. I don’t know why, but I have my suspicions.
If I had to bet on why I would illustrate it this way. My parents are from Puerto Rico. They grew up speaking Spanish. So, even now, after over forty years living in the continental US, they still love to worship in their native language. Their first encounters with God were in one language, their heart language, and there is a natural affinity to worship in that language.
This is an analogy. We will always have a “soft spot” for the style of music that helped us to connect to God. Do people “hate” other styles? Not necessarily. But they do have a preference. What tends to polarize people is being told that their style is not good or that it needs to be eliminated from the catalog of a church’s worship. There is a problem when the conversation gets to this point, people retreat into their camps because they do not want to sacrifice their own connection with God. Because whether we know it or not, that is exactly what someone hears when they are told their preferred style is being eliminated. And no one should be asked to give this particular connection up.
The church should not address the subject of worship this way. The conversation cannot be about just music. Worship is so much more than the music! But, it gets reduced to just music for some reason.
I discovered this tendency in myself in one of the churches I served. We had a contemporary service and a traditional service. Even though I was in my late 20s/ early 30s I preferred the traditional service with its massive pipe organ. For some reason, I “felt” closer to God when I worshipped in that service. Could I worship in the other service? Yes, I could. What I am saying is that when we make sure to keep the focus of worship on God and not on the music (or anything else that happens in the service), we can work out some of these differences. We can be more gracious and understanding.
In the Christian tradition that I grew up in we do not typically observe Lent. But, now I do because I learned to appreciate what it is. I may not observe Lent perfectly, but I do my best to keep the spirit of the season in view. This is something we all should do more often.