The Millennials Look For Ways To Express Themselves In Worship – Part I
I read an interesting blog, 3 Reasons Contemporary Worship Is Declining, and What We Can Do To Help The Church Move On by Jonathan Aigner (Sept. 4, 2015). His three proponents are: 1) Baby boomers are losing their influence. “‘My own generation is beginning to die.’ Your parents, not your kids, are the biggest proponents of contemporary worship,” 2) Millennials are seeking old ways of doing things. “This doesn’t mean a return to the church of the 1950s, but it means an increasing rejection of the church of the 1990s and 2000s”, 3) Contemporary worship is an unstable and non-theological movement. “To be thoroughly contemporary necessitates a slavish allegiance to the new, the current, the hip, the cool, and the commercial. It requires a thorough rejection of what is old, passe, not current, not cool, and what doesn’t make money.”
Aigner senses a shift in the church worship scene, giving me a hint that the millennials are seeking their own identity in worship, which excites me. This is a good thing.
As a Baby Boomer growing up in the 1950’s & 60’s, I was inundated by hymns written by composers who died over a hundred years earlier. Southern gospel quartets, “special music,” and “choir anthems” entertained us. Worship services were predictable; their script was printed in the church bulletin.
That was all challenged in the ‘70’s & ‘80’s when the Jesus Movement introduced Contemporary Christian Music with a rock beat as electric guitars and drum kits replaced the electronic pipe organs, and the Charismatic Movement introduced worship choruses as choirs yielded to worship teams. Churches were forced to offer two worship services: a traditional service with hymns, hymnals, a choir, special music, and sermon held in a sanctuary, and a contemporary service with choruses projected on an overhead screen, a worship team with drums, guitars, amplifiers, and stage lighting, and a sermon held in an adjacent church gymnasium or all purpose room. The Baby Boomers were trying to find their own unique way to express their praise and adoration to God through worship.
It takes decades for the church to embrace new forms and styles of worship. Those Baby Boomers as youth and those in their twenties who challenged the church scene are now the establishment that accepts their style of worship as acceptable. I do not necessarily support Aigner’s call to “Refuse to contribute to the commercial industry. Stop paying Nashville and Atlanta and Australia for its so-called “worship music.” Stop going to “worship” concerts. Stop listening to commercial Christian radio.” Keith Green challenged the Contemporary Music Industry of his day for their capitalistic entrepreneurship, but he did not call to ditch the whole movement. There is much to glean from it that has benefited the Church.
What the millennials will contribute to the Christian worship scene is yet to be determined by the Holy Spirit, the creator of Christian creativity, who flows among us. How He chooses to express Himself in their midst is yet to be seen, but when it occurs, I guarantee that it will be rejected by current forms, structures, and powers within the institutional church, and it will take decades until it too becomes the accepted practice within the faith.
Holy Spirit come; Holy Spirit create! Church observe what the Holy Spirit is doing in the midst of His people, those who call themselves millennials, as they worship naturally and supernaturally. Embrace the upcoming changes, and accept the new forms of expression Jesus will give His Church, His Bride, in preparation for their eternal marriage in the heavens. Get use to it, for worship in heaven will NOT look like the way we currently do it on earth; just read the book of Revelations, and you will see!