The world is not turned on by a church who looks and acts and sounds like the world.
You're so very right. There was a trend back in the 80's in Christian music that literally tried to mimic popular music. There was a chart that you could reference: "If you like the Rolling Stones, you will like this Christian Band". No kidding, I saw this chart and it compared most every popular band with some Christian band so that you kids could get their fix while hearing Christian lyrics.
I harshly criticize Christian music for often lacking heart and feeling and for mostly sounding the same. And I wish there was more influence from all the excellent musical genres out there, but I don't want us to imitate popular music directly, just pull some of the excellence from it. Music is never an island unto itself unless it becomes isolated from fresh ideas - and that is the point at which it begins to look and sound stale and lifeless.
We aren't called to be the same as them, we are called out to a higher level and if we never reach that level, we will never reach the world.
We're reaching the world, that's happening with us or in spite of us (worship leaders). Someone is always out there reaching people by embedding themselves in the culture and developing an understanding of how the people think and feel. But alas, the workers have always been few.
I've read Chris Tomlin's book about how they put on shows in various cities and it had a great evangelistic impact. People were attracted to the joyous sound and yet, his music is very modern and draws plenty from popular styles. It's similar enough to popular music that people get what's happening, but it also has the "stamp" of Christ on it and sounds different and alive to people.
You are not alone in this observation; some seem to be afraid of the visual expressions of God moving ( partially because there is always a messure of what is happening that is NOT God) who knows for sure
.I guess it comes down on how do we approach a solution of some sort ( will vary depending on location and congregation) for myself I spend a lot of time searching out the shorter songs.. sometimes I shorten the original into bite size. All must be done with much prayer, gentleness, and respect for all opinions of those who have a say on the matter. I believe that as those who see the problem will humble themselves and begin to pray God will heal the barren land. Yes that is scripture but it best describes the sollution... I also concure with most of the earlier comments
Need a three pointer. If you really look at what's going on, at least as I see it happening in my small circle, the *strict* traditionalists are over 60, the *blenders* are 40-50 and the *strict modernists are under 40. This is a huge generalization of course, but what I'm saying is that the *strict* traditionalists are decreasing in numbers.
But the hymns will survive - the best ones. And they will be performed in the style and energy of the generation who sings them, as they always have. How many "Amazing Grace" tunes have there been?
At least that's what I see happening over time. It's never an overnight process to see change like this, but you know it's happening when you see that Hegelian process occur. Eventually hymns will gain a new set of clothing and only the better modern songs will be remembered as the newest ones of some future day are being performed. And the best of those will begin to take their place as well.
For awhile I led the singing from the pulpit, a really scary thing to do, especially with the old sour guy (same guy?). I decided to catch his eye and smile at him while leading; once, he actually unfolded his arms (I thought perhaps they had been surgically folded), appeared to relax and the faintest hint of a smile swept over his face.
In heaven, where there is no sin, drums are no longer sinful; so our old sour friends are not sweet and happy, maybe even bumping while doing the samba (what is more worth redeeming than the samba?) to some glorious heavenly percussion! :)
Well, except that style and musical genre is completely lacking in the Bible - on purpose. You can only get that from the people and culture around you and that's how God intended it. From what we know of the language used in the Psalms, the Israelite instruments and styles were very much like those around them.
Your heart needs to be shaped by God, but you have to get the musical style from around you because God hasn't prescribed a "style" in scripture. I'm sure some will say, "get your music from God", but none of that happens in a vacuum. I have yet to hear any spiritual song or hymn that doesn't find it's stylistic roots in it's surrounding culture. And that's not a bad thing either.
The solution is NOT in the world or it's music ( Style or lyrics) because the worlds system if you listen; is a cry that says"Help I'm Broken".
And I would also take this to task. A lot of it says "help, I'm broken", but here are two things:
1) God wants us to say "help, I'm broken".
2) It doesn't all say "help, I'm broken", some of it is very constructive and beneficial for Christians to hear and enjoy.
I'm not saying that the solution is to copy Mick Jagger. I'm just saying that NOT copying Mick Jagger isn't quite the answer either. It's certainly the right thing to go to scripture, but we're also told in scripture to "sing a new song" and that's what this thread is about.
This is a toughie for me to deal with, too.
On one hand, we are entering the iPod (and its successors) Era, in which people listen to a song hundreds of times without bothering anyone else (except teachers trying to get the things out of kids' ears). This means they CAN and DO absorb sophisticated arrangements of music -- plus we have a "performance-oriented" style of solo work, full of portamentos, curlicues, slides, ornaments, and what not -- easily as complicated as opera singing. Yet the iPod generation patiently plays the recordings over and over until they have mastered all this.
What do the rest of us do -- and is there still value to learning a few lines of a Scripture with a pleasant, quarter-and-eighth melody that your family can sing at the dinner table, in the car, or on a campout? I personally find that such little songs have great staying power in my walk with God, and provide accessible beauty without having to have an armada of sound gear with me. (Funny - I was about to start a new discussion, "What would you do if the economy collapses and you only get three hours of electric power a day?" Might stilol do that).
You do not have to conform.
You do not have to conform.
You do not have to conform to the expectations of iPod culture or to song salesmen. But if you want to sing plain and simple songs, expect a type of "persecution" from those who only want it fast and heavy, long and strong. Expect to be considered a dinosaur who is still in love with the 70's (was that even possible?)
There will come a time, and perhaps it has already come, when people will long for a song, well sung, well presented, which shares the Gospel in its simplicity.
added note: The large and complex songs aren't necessarily "performance-oriented" -- they are just part of the development of the forms of popular music which have deep roots in our countries. Remember also, that the "choruses" we sang in the 70's were original compositions taking up on earlier Choruses that belonged to larger songs (who knows all the verses to "Blessed Assurance" (ca. 1890)? But everyone knows the Chorus). So it's a cyclical thing.
Ulitmately, if you don't want to conform to the "popular thing", write your own. Quite a few people do that, at least to add to or deepen the body of music already in their church.