The Coffeshop Generation

I originally wrote this 2 years ago, but I think it will work well as my first blog posting.

I took a class my freshman year called Christian Discipleship, and it basically turned into a class on the post-modern church. For those of you who don’t know this is basically a fancy word for how my generation and those somewhat near my age desire to have church “done”. People call me a part of Generation Y or the Millenial Generation, or whatever, but I say that I’m part of the Coffeshop Generation (I want credit if that ever catches on). We love to get together in a place with music and some noise, lots of stuff going on, and try and hash out a meaningful connection by way of conversation. The question is how does this type of generation work within the church and how can a church make this relational aspect come alive. The question I ask as a worship leader is how to make worship in church relevant to the coffeeshop generation.

I went to a concert a month ago (Shawn McDonald) and throughout the concert there was a painter, painting in the background. He painted 2 pictures, they had basically no relevance to Jesus or Christianity but I was struck by the fact that music and painting are both art but only one is done every week in every church around the world.

Last November I went to a concert at the Salem Armory. It was a worship concert led by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman. Those two combine for easily the two best leaders and writers of worship music today. There were never more than 5 people on stage but it was one of the loudest concerts I’ve been to, and God was felt all throughout the 3 hour concert. It was simple but there were 3,500 people diving into worship while one person was singing and three people playing instruments.

Last October I saw Shane and Shane and The David Crowder Band in concert. Two completely different types of bands, and neither is particularly a worship artist. However, I worshipped to songs that are never sung in church and they fostered an easy way to connect with Christ. It was loud, but it was real and it was worship.

I’ve attended Rolling Hills Church a few times this semester and being a worship guy I really focus on that. I honestly can’t attend a church where I can’t connect with the worship well. They have about 5 singers up front and 2 or 3 instruments that play in the band. It is a simple sound, and is never really energetic, but the church is 3,000 people strong.

For a the last few years I’ve been a part of the worship team at my church. I didn’t choose the music most weeks, but I was kind of the up front person that the congregation would look to. We would usually have 5 or 6 six singers and 4 or 5 instruments. We could do any song in the book with those amount of numbers. As we gelled together we became pretty good at doing the songs we knew really well, but the church didn’t grow in numbers or in a worshipful attitude.

What am I saying here? No I am not saying that there is one way to “do” worship that works for everyone. There is not one way that pleases God above the others. There is not one way to do worship for the Coffeeshop Generation that everyone will enjoy. But have you noticed how every worship CD that comes ou today has one or two singers on it? And how every worship CD that comes out always has some part when the worship leader stops singing and lets the church sing?

The Coffeeshop Generation loves to sing. I mean they really love to sing. They’ll sing anything, including hymns, just as long as they know the song. I am a part of this generation, there has never been a song that I knew and didn’t sing to. Having 6 singers every weekend leading worship fogs the noise and makes it hard for a church to connect. Six singers makes worship a performance if not done perfectly right. Painting pictures and letting a church sing can be lead people to Christ but it to can also become a performance if not done right. The coffeeshop generation is a broken group. We have experienced more life than any other generation has, and we didn’t need a world war to do it. Shawn McDonald is huge today because he is real. Chris Tomlin is incredible because he leads others to Christ by making themselves the leader of their own worship experience.

Generation Y, the Millenium Generation, the Coffeeshop Generation…all they want is something real, a connection, and to sing. The fun part is that there are any number of ways to do that. This is worship in the postmodern church.