Pages

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Church Shopping Saga Continues: How's the Music?

This post is one in a series about the adventure of finding a new church to attend after moving to a new town.  You can find the others with the label "Church Shopping".


The music.  There is probably nothing in a church service that evokes more emotion or opinions than the music.  People who are used to traditional hymns may balk at "contemporary" music.  People who have never heard anything but contemporary music may not even know what an organ is.  For some, the music is too loud.  For others, it plods along.  Some lyrics are difficult to understand.  Some lyrics are too simplistic and boring.  People have favorite songs as well as songs they dislike.  Music is used to appease people or to get new people in the door.  


In the past, I've attended churches that have had both traditional music as well as contemporary praise and worship, and I like both.  If I had to choose a favorite, I'd probably choose contemporary praise and worship, as long as the hymns I love could be included as well.  Actually, if I really had to choose, I enjoy the simplicity of a guitar only; I don't need the drums or anything else.   


Of the six churches we've visited, four have been more traditional musically and two have been more contemporary, although, there were some contemporary songs done on piano in the traditional churches, so it's not exactly taboo.


When I think about the music, and think about my preference, though, I realize that what I am doing is relying on being fed by the music (For more about being fed, see Part I and Part II on the topic).  Music is meant, I think, to be something emotional.  It stirs our hearts and touches our souls.  There is nothing inherently wrong with music.  There are so many beautiful instances of music throughout the Bible:
  • Singing about God's strength and salvation after the exodus (Exodus 15:1-18)
  • Deborah and Barak singing a song (Judges 5:1-31)
  • Responsive singing (Ezra 3:11)
  • The Psalms!
  • Singing hallel at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:30)
  • Paul's instructions to have a hymn when meeting together (1 Cor 14:26)
  • Many others I didn't think of or find in my search
Music is a wonderful tool to be used to help point us to God, to be used to worship God.  But when we get excited about a certain song being sung or feeling bored with another song, aren't we making it about ourselves instead?  I do this ALL the time.  When a song that I love is being played, I am happy; when a song I don't like is being played, I may not sing or if I do sing, my heart really isn't into it.  I've done this since I was a child.  There's one particular hymn, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", that I never liked (I'm ok with it now) and I would flip back and forth through my hymnal deliberately not being able to find the hymn until it was over so that I didn't have to sing it.  Then, there are other songs that I could sing every week ("Here I Am, Lord", "Be Thou My Vision", "All Things Bright and Beautiful", "In Christ Alone", "God of Wonders", "Everlasting God" to name a few).


Here's the thing.  Church lasts about an hour on Sunday, right?  If I don't hear the music that I like, does it really matter?  I can listen to it as often as I want at home!  I can put my favorite songs on repeat.  I can sing along to them and dance around in my kitchen (umm...did I just admit that?).  So if I can get this music that I love elsewhere, is it really an important qualification for choosing a church after all?  Do I need to rely on a church to feed me the music that I like?


What type of music do you prefer?  What role does music play in your life, whether in general or in church?  



8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good questions here. I just try to figure out if I feel freedom and life to worship, but that's a hard thing to gauge. Hang in there!

ed cyzewski said...

The above comment was from me. Not sure how it lost my name.

Kelly said...

You know, I thought that first comment sounded like you before I saw the second one!

This exploration of church is actually kind of fun and not really stressful...yet...depending on how long it lasts before we choose. When it comes to actually choosing then I think it'll be stressful. But, by then, whenever then is, hopefully there will be some clarity.

Jenn Cahill said...

I just discovered the church shopping posts and find them extremely insightful. Personally, if I had to choose I would pick contemporary worship music any day. I can worship in any setting because my focus is on God. But personally I can not stand the old organ music thing. In my daily life I listen to a lot of styles of music. My favorite is sort of indie rock. One thing I (and no one I know does either) listen to is organ music so I tend to avoid having it inflicted on me in worship if I can!

Kelly J Youngblood said...

Somehow, a comment went through to Blogger, not Disqus, but never posted here, but I got an email alert about it anyway. So apologies to Jenn Cahill who wrote the following even though it didn't show up here:

"I just discovered the church shopping posts and find them extremely insightful. Personally, if I had to choose I would pick contemporary worship music any day. I can worship in any setting because my focus is on God. But personally I can not stand the old organ music thing. In my daily life I listen to a lot of styles of music. My favorite is sort of indie rock. One thing I (and no one I know does either) listen to is organ music so I tend to avoid having it inflicted on me in worship if I can!"

Kelly J Youngblood said...

Jenn,
I'm glad you found the church shopping posts helpful. I know what you mean about organ music. I like a lot of the old hymns, but I personally think they sound so much better with piano, guitar, whatever. But sometimes, organ music can be powerful, even if it is not my preferred kind.

Tia Dye said...

I've enjoyed many different styles of worship music. For me, there are just some songs in any style that pull me out of 'worship' and into whether I like or dislike the music. Sometimes I just enjoy singing the notes and words, but forget that I am doing it in worship. Sometimes it is so difficult to sing in key or know the song that I cannot focus on the worship. Either way, whenever I find the 'worship' part slipping away, I stop singing and I listen. Sometimes it takes a little bravery to just stop singing in church, but if quieting my own voice and listening brings more worship from my heart, then that is what I do.

Kelly J Youngblood said...

There are times I just like to listen too, especially if it is a song I don't know at all. I want to listen to it and think about it first before just automatically singing it because "well, singing the song is just what we do in church".