Who Stole My Church? by Gordon MacDonald.
As I think back on the book, there are a couple of moments that stick out to me as huge turning points for the group. One was diving through the Scripture I talked about in part 3, and another is when the youth band joins the group for a discussion on music. Let me remind you that the youth band is full of high schoolers and they are going to meet with 50 and 60 year olds (not easy for either group to do).
A few weeks before this meeting Gordon had talked about Isaac Watts, a famous writer of a lot of hymns (Jesus Shall Reign, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Joy to the World). Everyone in the older group proclaimed their love for a number of the songs written by him. Gordon told about how Watts was frustrated with the music in church during the early 1700s and how his father supported the vision he had for a new kind of music in the church. Watts introduced instruments to church music, they were previously considered worldly and many churches in New England would not sing his music and it tore many congregations a part. Most of the people in the group could not imagine it. The music they loved, was once the theme for a worship war. I think establishing this helped the discovery group to be open to what the youth band had to say.
As the meeting began with the youth team began, they shared some of the things they didn’t understand about the way the older generation does music in church.
- Why were they so serious and never happy?
- They are always too busy being frustrated with the music that they never worshiped.
- There is no excitement in the singing.
- A lot of the words in the songs don’t make sense.
- The style of music is nothing close to what people listen to during the week.
Both groups talked about these things for a while. It forced the older group to think about why their favorite music wouldn’t make sense to someone younger. It also forced the younger group to think about how they could incorporate some “traditional” songs in their sets in a fresh way (a week after the meeting, the youth band led Come Thou Fount with a more upbeat feel).
That meeting ended with an embrace between the generations. I have to doubt whether that is really realistic, but the fact that two totally different age groups were able to share their music frustrations with one another is a step that most churches don’t ever take. I wonder whose job it is to reach out…should older or younger people reach out to the other first? I struggle with this a lot.
I’ve been a part of music in church for a while at different churches. I have never, ever had someone older than 50 reach out to me to discuss worship and my thoughts on music in church. The older generation loves to complain about us young people and I love to complain about how stubborn older people are with music…BUT neither side ever reaches out to the other. Until this changes, the divide between the two groups will continue to grow.